The Gstaad Major beach tournament is experiencing financial difficulties

Mon, 18. Nov. 2019
The reason for the financial difficulties suffered by the Gstaad Major certainly isn’t a lack of public interest as there’s constant attention on this tournament. (Archive/AvS)

Sport Events Gstaad GmbH, organiser of the Gstaad Major, has hit a financial crisis. A request for contributions has been made to the municipality of Saanen and outstanding bills are to be paid off. Then, the well-known beach volleyball tournament’s budget will be re-balanced

"The beach volleyball Major Gstaad needs support," explained tournament director Ruedi Kunz, describing the situation that the beach volleyball tournament is now in. The tournament has been held in Gstaad for 20 years.

Transparency and communication
Sport Events Gstaad GmbH has sent out a letter to all supporters with a clear depiction of the current financial situation. With the restructuring contributions that the tournament organiser requires from the municipality Saanen the company should be restored to a sound position, according to the local council in its agenda notes for the next municipal meeting.

Given that the tournament is very important to the region in many ways, communicating this financial emergency is essential. The organisers of the major tournament in Fort Lauderdale probably left it too late. Their deficit had grown so much that the tournament had to be abandoned.

Reasons for the Gstaad tournament’s financial crisis
The background to the strategic decisions is difficult for outsiders to understand. Some may wonder why the tournament has to be in the highest category. The explanation that Ruedi Kunz gave is as simple as it is detailed. With the downgrading to a four-star tournament, the prize money would have been reduced by US$ 300,000, but the scheduled date for the tournament to take place would not have been preserved.

Only five-star tournaments get to specify their chosen dates according to the tournament calendar. However, the Gstaad tournament date is important as it allows a cost-efficient use of the infrastructure for the beach volleyball tournament and the tennis tournament. Most noteworthy is that Rome has made a clear bid to take over the Gstaad tournament.

Increasingly short-term sponsorship commitments are the second reason for the difficult financial situation the tournament is in. "It's hard to set a stable budget because we rarely get long-term sponsorship pledges," said the tournament director, explaining the difficulties in financial planning.

How can things improve?
"A key point for us is the recent decision by the World Federation FIVB to reduce the organiser's prize money share from US$ 600,000 to 400,000," emphasises Kunz. "I think it’s fully justified that the World Association should contribute US$ 200,000 to the prize money. After all, they use our stadium as advertising space.”

For Sport Events Gstaad GmbH, this saving is an essential part of financial recovery. "The tournament isn’t aimed at yielding a profit," emphasises Kunz. "Our goal is to keep this ingenious event alive for the tourist region in the Saanenland through a great media appeal."

What does it bring to the region?
The significance of the tournament for the region at the beginning of July is no secret. "The event is simply invaluable to the region," says Flurin Riedi, managing director of Gstaad Saanenland Tourismus. "For our destination, the tournament basically kicks off the summer season." An international media presence (TV, print, online and social media) and the 398.5m people who receive this information brings the region global attention.

The council has recognised the importance of the tournament for the Saanenland and stands by its preservation. 

Based on AvS / Jenny Sterchi
Translated by Justine Hewson



A lot of Gstaad residents would be relieved not to have this event anymore as it brings a too large crowd of people in the village. The shops do not benefit either from this event aside maybe from Wally's the hamburger place and maybe the bakery. Polo, tennis, ski, and music are events that seem better adapted to the village of Gstaad.

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