ISL to pay debts as suppliers threaten to sue

LONDON • The professional International Swimming League (ISL) has promised to honour financial obligations and improve processes as some unpaid suppliers threaten legal action.

The series, which ended its second season after the finals in Budapest over the weekend, acknowledged the commercial difficulties in a statement. "Our head-down approach to deliver season 2020 may have caused friction with some suppliers but we will honour all obligations, which are less than 5 per cent of last year's overall expenditure," it said.

ISL said it would "adjust our internal organisation and processes to improve our operational discipline" before planning for the next season.

London-based content agency LiveWire Sport said in a statement last Friday that it had instructed lawyers to begin legal proceedings against ISL over unpaid debts from last year. "We have been waiting over 10 months now for full payment for the services provided to ISL for season one. This is despite ISL acknowledging the debt and saying they intend to pay the outstanding amount," it added.

Jean-Francois Salessy, general manager of the Energy Standard team and agent for French swimmer Florent Manaudou, resigned last week with an open letter to the ISL's wealthy Ukrainian founder Konstantin Grigorishin.

"ISL is a boat without governance but with only one shareholder and generals without powers," he said. "I no longer wish to be part of your fake movie."

But the ISL, which features some of the world's top swimmers, claimed that its financial difficulties were no different from other sports right holders, due to the significant challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

It added it had taken on "a huge additional financial commitment" this year to support its athletes in the run-up to next year's postponed Tokyo Olympics, only to deal with closed pools, disrupted schedules and cancelled meets.

"We had hoped for meaningful revenues to come in but alongside the impact of the pandemic, our commercial operations have also failed significantly with most projections not materialising," the ISL said.

Last year, seven short-course meets were staged in seven different cities, but this season, all 10 meets were held behind closed doors in Budapest.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 23, 2020, with the headline 'ISL to pay debts as suppliers threaten to sue'. Print Edition | Subscribe