Slumping attendance at Wimbledon is resulting in on-the-spot sackings of temporary staff as the most prestigious of the four Grand Slams enters a troubled second week.
British media reported that up to tournament finances look to be taking a hit, with a shortfall of fans through the gates Monday through Thursday, causing a growing crisis for corporate bean-counters.
The attendance figure so far at this edition is just over 153,000, lowest total since around 149,000 attended for the same period in 2007.
As a result of the fall of 11 per cent, minor infractions by staff taken on for the period are being used as excuses to chop the payroll headcount whenever possible, reports indicate.
London’s Times reported that ” housekeepers and cleaners are being sacked for going to the toilet ‘without asking’, eating strawberries, and drinking while wearing their uniforms.”
Part of the problem is being blamed on the crowd-pulling absence of eight-time winner Roger Federer and the first-round defeat of Serena Williams.
But Britain’s deepening financial crisis – partly as a result of the controversial Brexit decision – can also not be ruled out.
The country faces a huge hike in taxes as well as massive upcoming winter fuel bills and is run by a political party plagued by never-ending sleaze scandals with its PM under constant fire for repeated gaffes and mis-statements.
The Times said: “They’re just trying to cull people,’ one housekeeping worker in their 20s said. ‘Since the email went out, they’ve been very harsh to people, not really giving them any warnings. They’re getting kicked out for relatively minor things.
‘It feels like we’re on edge because when you want to sit down for a bit you’re looking around, hoping no one is watching. When we’ve done our jobs and there’s nothing to do, we can’t just be on our feet all day.”
A Wimbledon official denied all to the Mail Online: ‘It is not true that we have asked any of our contractors to reduce staffing levels.
“We value all of the staff who help us to deliver The Championships, they are crucial to staging this world class event.
‘We meet annually with each of our major contractors to discuss our values around employment and these are shared with all potential employees.
‘We are delighted that many of our staff choose to return to work at Wimbledon year after year and help us to put on an incredible event.’
Empty seats are common even on Centre Court and during televised matches at this edition, which will play on the middle Sunday for the first time in living memory, presumably to help the bottom line and ease pressure from worldwide television interests.
Main photo:- Casual workers deliver renowned products for Wimbledon food outlets – by Roger Parker International Sports Fotos Ltd