World Table Tennis’ major aspirations and objectives were outlined in opening speeches by Liu Guoliang, WTT Council Chair, and Khalil Al-Mohannadi, WTT Board Member.
Opening speech by Liu Guoliang, WTT Council Chair
“The ITTF has always done an excellent job in bringing table tennis to all parts of the world. Now, with World Table Tennis, we are working towards the next step: to create a new table tennis landscape and make it one of the world’s largest sports properties.
“This has always been my dream. In all my years of playing table tennis, I could never understand why table tennis, with the largest number of players, has not become the top sport in the world.
“In 2019, I was pleasantly surprised to find some young people with similar ideas at the ITTF. At first, I doubted they could do it, but when I saw them also thinking about how to take table tennis further globally from a professional perspective, I realised that we share the same vision.
“World Table Tennis was born, as the times require, and predictably, this is the perfect opportunity to create great value for the sport, and to demonstrate the true value of the top players and fans.
“I promise to organise WTT events around the world. In Asia, we can make a great revenue from hosting events, but it’s not the same in several other regions of the world. We will strive to tap a huge potential market, but remain committed to hosting WTT events in all continents.
“We will also invest and actively explore how to develop global markets, setting up offices in different countries to explore more business opportunities and further establish training centers for future stars.
“I will encourage more Chinese companies to sponsor table tennis events around the world. By doing so, we will increase the prize money, so that our most important asset in this sport, the players, can make a good living from table tennis.
“We will make table tennis events and activities more attractive to the media, giving the sport greater global exposure. Our ultimate goal is to develop and improve table tennis worldwide and, spurred by my deep passion for the sport, I will do my best to make WTT a success.”
Opening speech by Khalil Al-Mohannadi, WTT Board Member
“Table Tennis is a very big sport across the globe, but we need to do more if we compare ourselves to other sports. With World Table Tennis, we are completely transforming our sport.
“As a member of the WTT Board, I promise to everyone in our table tennis family that we are working hard to grow our sport all around the world. In WTT, we have a strong programme involving major table tennis countries and big-name players.
“We also never forget to develop all of the national associations, big and small, as well as athletes from grassroots upwards. In order to ensure a better future, we also need the smaller associations on board with us; we need new world champions, new players coming through.
“To achieve this, we need to work altogether as one big table tennis family. By doing this, I am sure that we will keep making our sport bigger and better.”
Origins of WTT, presented by Steve Dainton, WTT Director & ITTF CEO
Since the ITTF took back its commercial rights in-house in 2017, the ITTF management team has been planning on how to ensure the best possible platform for table tennis when the new rights cycle would begin in 2021.
Despite being one of the most practiced sports in the world, prize money at ITTF events was not high enough, events outside the World Championships received little attention and, compared to other sports, the gap in commercial growth was becoming larger and larger.
Therefore, the ITTF leadership decided it was the time to take action, to seek external expertise, to carefully analyse and eventually to figure out how to change for good our position. On the base of the work carried out with professional consultants, Withers and Deloitte Sports Group, the ITTF set up WTT, whose core responsibility is to create a professional platform of table tennis events for the players and fans. An organisation that will grow the sport to be so much more popular to the market that it will encourage more people to love and play the sport of table tennis.
Bringing WTT to Life, presented by Matt Pound, WTT Director & ITTF Marketing Director
Globally renowned commercial partners have teamed up with WTT in order to really accelerate the growth and professionalism of table tennis.
Two Strategic Partners:
- QG Sports – equity deal which secures the funds needed to develop WTT.
- IMG – holistic deal with the world’s largest sports marketing agency.
Several Partners supporting WTT, who are leaders in their relevant fields:
- Philippe Le Floc’h – commercial strategy
- IMG – media and production
- Pumpjack Dataworks – digital transformation
- Turnstile – IP valuation
- Superunion – design
- 160 over 90 – brand building
- Double prize money.
- New professional event series with blockbuster marquee events.
- Exclusive women’s events to further promote women’s game.
- Globally renowned commercial partners and investors.
- Investment into new social and digital strategy to further promote players and engage growing fanbase.
- Enhanced TV production to showcase star players from fresh angle.
- Unrivalled development / performance opportunities to create future stars.
“We need more stars of the show. We need to be developing our players, not just on the table, but making them into superstars. We want to see them more on TV, with bigger social followings. We want to create more fandom and stardom around our players, so we’ll be working very closely with them to ensure that happens. We want, for example, Mima Ito to be walking on the streets and recognised not only in Japan, but also in China, Germany, Australia, etc. We want her to be a global superstar of the sport, just as we see with other top athletes, such as Roger Federer in tennis, Tiger Woods in golf and Cristiano Ronaldo in football. We also want to be offering opportunities to develop the next generation of talent with more countries competing for the top prizes in our sport. This is extremely important to ensure that we are a global sport.” – Matt Pound, WTT Director
WTT Legal Process, presented by Anthony Indaimo, WTT Legal Council at Withers
Withers is an international law firm and since 1986 has assisted sports professionals, rights owners, clubs and team owners, international federations, associations and charities, sponsors, sports management, marketing companies, promoters, broadcasters and agents.
Indaimo spoke about the separation of ITTF’s core activities, so that the ITTF is responsible for governance of table tennis and WTT is responsible for commercialisation of the sport, bringing key benefits for both parties, including greater operational efficiency and accountability.
Indaimo also went into detail regarding the Governance Structure between ITTF and WTT, as well as the Master Licence Agreement.
WTT Tender & Business Process, presented by Alan Switzer, WTT Business Consultant at Deloitte
Deloitte Sports Business Group are the market leading specialist advisers in sports business and have advised numerous international federations on restructuring commercial rights and managing competitive tender processes.
Switzer analysed the WTT business model, which allows for greater commercial freedom and the potential to sign innovative, long-term partnerships, and to attract external investment (funding and expertise).
Switzer also explained the WTT Tender Process, which resulted in the selection of WTT’s two Strategic Partners, IMG and QG Sports.
IMG & WTT Partnership, presented by Tom Broom, IMG Senior Vice-President in IMG Media & Events
IMG is the world’s largest sports, fashion, events and media agency. A number of prestigious sports leagues, federations and brands already count among its extensive portfolio of premier global partners.
Broom outlined the shared vision for WTT, not least to:
- Transform the product (broadcast, venue & spectator, marketing storyline, narrative).
- Develop the brand.
- Deliver strategic sales (media, sponsors, host cities).
- Build and evolve long-term relationships.
- Ensure a best-in-class approach.
WTT from an external viewpoint, presented by Philippe Le Floc’h, WTT Commercial Strategy Consultant
Philippe Le Floc’h has 27 years of experience in the sports business, equally split between sport governing bodies and sport marketing & media agencies. He was UEFA Marketing Director for between 2000-2010 and FIFA Chief Commercial Officer between 2016-2019.
Le Floc’h spoke about the evolution of the sporting landscape in the current digital age and how WTT is positioned to benefit from its business model, which is highly innovative for an international federation.
Lead-up to the ITTF AGM
Six interactive video conferences have been organised in the build-up to the AGM, according to the following schedule:
5) World Table Tennis 14th September 13:00 CEST
6) World Championships 2023 bids 21st September 13:00 CEST
7) ITTF Annual General Meeting 28th September 13:00 CEST