Ball in LTA's court as Lloyd shows interest in the leading role

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Tennis

JOHN ROBERTS

David Lloyd, the scourge of the Lawn Association before being made Davis Cup captain, indicated yesterday that he would be interested in succeeding Ian Peacock as chief executive - given a free hand.

"I don't think I could take the job in the capacity Ian Peacock had it, where he really has been tied by committees; I couldn't work like that," Lloyd said. "It would have to be a completely different ball game, where you'd call the tune without worrying what people say all the time.''

Such a statement would have eliminated Lloyd from consideration had the post been open a couple of years ago, but last year the LTA showed a change of attitude towards its most vociferous critic by giving him the Davis Cup job.

Guiding a team from the brink of fourth-rate status in the world is one thing, loosening the grip of amateur British administrators could prove a far greater challenge.

It may be decided that Lloyd is of more value motivating the players, although he could argue that, given a wider brief, he could devote his energy to raising standards. There is no urgency for an appointment to be made, Peacock having announced that he will remain in the job until his contract expires at the end of September.

"David Lloyd obviously is a potential candidate," Peacock said, "but we've got a little bit of time to go through the process and see who's around, and for the board to clarify in their own mind what sort of person they want sitting in this chair: whether they want a David Lloyd high- profile person, or whether they want someone who's going to run a pounds 45m business.''

If the way Lloyd has managed his own affairs is a guide, the LTA's millions from the Wimbledon Championships would be well invested. Commercially, he is the most successful individual in the British game, having created an empire of tennis and leisure centres, which he sold to Whitbread for pounds 20m last year.

He retained an executive role in the company, but this would not necessarily prevent him from taking the LTA job. "One would have to do a lot of clearing round, but I wouldn't throw it out at this moment in time," he said. "I think I could do a pretty good job."

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