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Guaranteed Centre Court seat for Wimbledon? That’ll be £116,000 … each | The super-rich

Tennis fans who struggle each year to secure tickets in Wimbledon’s public ballot or wait hours in the famous queue may be surprised to discover that almost a fifth of the seats on Centre Court are being sold to the global super-rich for £116,000 – each.

A total of 2,520 of the “debentures” are on sale, offering a reserved seat for each of the 14 days of the tournament for five years from 2026-30. Applications to buy the exclusive seats – positioned on the same level as the royal box – close at midday on Friday.

Despite the high price, which works out at about £1,657 for each day of tennis, All England Lawn Tennis Club officials said the number of applications had already far exceeded supply.

Few newcomers are expected to be able to join the debentures club as holders have the right of first refusal. Some wealthy families have held on to the same debenture tickets since they were first issued in 1920.

Holders have access to the private champions’ room with direct views of the outside courts and assistance from dedicated “debenture hosts”.

They also have a dedicated entrance to the court and have the choice of seven exclusive bars and restaurants. These include “the courtside restaurant”, which has “views over Courts 16 and 17, with its signature menus designed by celebrity chefs”. In previous years Albert Roux and Bryn Williams have been the chefs in residence.

The price of the debentures has more than quadrupled from the £27,750 charged for 2011-15, and is £36,000 more expensive than the current five-year period. The club said the increase reflected rising demand for the special tickets and the increasing cost of corporate hospitality packages at the championships.

While the All England club bans the resale of ordinary Wimbledon tickets via online marketplaces, debenture holders are able to sell as many days in their seats as they wish. Debenture tickets for this year’s men’s finals are available on the resale site Viagogo for £23,602.

“Debenture tickets are the only Wimbledon tickets which are freely transferable, meaning debenture holders may give away or sell their tickets on the open market on days they cannot attend, or sell their entire debenture,” the club said.

The debentures account for 16.7% of Centre Court’s 14,979 seats. The All England club reserves a further 1,340 seats for corporate hospitality. Invited guests, including the media, schools and overseas tennis associations, occupy 21% of the seats, leaving 53.5% for the public.

The latest sale of debenture seats will raise £292m for the club, which it hopes to spend on a massive expansion of the Championship grounds on to the neighbouring Grade II*-listed park and former golf course.

The All England club, which has been running the championships since 1877, spent £65m of funds mostly raised from previous debenture sales buying up Wimbledon Park golf course in 2018 to expand its site across Church Road. The purchase led to the golf club’s members – including Piers Morgan, the former cabinet secretary Lord Gus O’Donnell, Ant McPartlin and Dec Donnelly – each collecting an £85,000 windfall.

However, no building work has started as there is a bitter planning row between the club and local residents who object to plans to build a new 8,000-seat, 10-storey show court and 38 other grass courts on the former golf club land in Wimbledon Park, which was landscaped by Capability Brown in the 18th century, and is specially protected as “metropolitan open land”.

The mayor of London’s office has taken charge of the decision on whether to approve the plans, which had been approved by Merton council but rejected by neighbouring Wandsworth council.

The first debenture issue in 1920 helped fund the purchase of the existing Church Road grounds and construction of Centre Court in 1922. Subsequent issues have funded significant improvements and upgrades, including the construction of the media pavilion, the retractable roofs for Centre Court in 2009, and No 1 Court (2019).

The debentures are treated as financial instruments and traded by the stockbroker Dowgate with an auction taking place once a week from Wednesday at 11am until Thursday at 11am. At the latest auction a pair of Centre Court 2021-2025 debentures was sold for £108,000 each. The record price was £145,500 in December 2015 – even after one of the five Wimbledons covered by that edition had already taken place.

There are also 1,250 debenture seats on No 1 Court, which were sold for £46,000 each for the 2022-2026 edition.

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