Surfing Queensland sidelined in WSL dispute
When the WSL released its schedule for the 2020 Championship Tour, keen observers may have noticed a change at the top of the page. No longer is the season opener called the Quiksilver Pro, as it has since 2002, but is now the Corona Pro.
Less obvious are changes happening behind the scenes of the Corona Pro. Changes that have the capacity to upset the longstanding arrangement between the WSL, Surfing Queensland - and potentially all the other states - and ultimately grassroots surfing in Australia.
For many years, Surfing Queensland have been the event managers of the Quiksilver Pro, contracted to set up the infrastructure, oversee operations, and make sure the whole thing runs smoothly. A similar arrangement exists for Surfing Victoria and Bells, and Surfing WA and the Margaret River Pro.
Each stop is supported by the WSL and any relevant sponsors, plus additional financial input from the state governments in a quid pro quo arrangement: while the event benefits CT surfers, state surfing branches are employed with the income funnelling back into their development programs.
For instance, the income generated by the Quiksilver Pro allows Surfing Queensland to hire two staff who work on the contest when it runs, then spend the rest of the year organising club and state level events.
Swellnet has learned that, as of next year, the WSL will no longer use Surfing Queensland to run the Corona Pro, but will instead do the whole thing themselves, effectively cutting them out of the deal.
The change has come as a huge shock to those involved and negotiations are underway amongst all parties to remedy the situation.
During the ASP era, and early years of the WSL, the events were licensed with the WSL accrediting each event. However, the WSL has increasingly been taking full or part ownership of CT and QS events. The Challenger Series, for instance, which will debut next season, is owned by the WSL.
That trend is now starting here, beginning with the Corona Pro. Surfing Vic and Surfing WA are contracted to run their CT events, which protects them, for now.
Of all the surfing nations, Australia stands to be most affected owing to the degree of public money spent on CT events. That money, plus historical arrangements with the ASP and WSL have underpinned an established business model. A model that’s now in jeopardy.
More news at it arrives.