In Spain, four million people currently practise it.
The salaries of professionals exceed 100,000 euros
He came to Spain in the ’80s. The first court was opened in the Marbella club, with Manolo Santana as one of its main promoters. From then on, it gained followers. In fact, according to data from the Consejo Superior de Deportes, there are already four million people who play it in this country.
“Padel has developed so much in our country for two main reasons, firstly because it’s a very social activity, you need four people to play it, and secondly because it’s very cheap. The constructors realized that they were saving money and space by installing a paddle court instead of a tennis court in the residences. There was a time when there were more courts than players,” said the World Padel Tour, organizer of the professional championship.
There has also been a dramatic increase in the number of fans and players who are feeling it directly. It is the sport that is developing most in social networks, according to the organization’s data. In one year, its followers have increased by 97% on these sites and by 107% on Youtube, where they broadcast the matches live. In addition to this growth on the networks, Gol Television, the Spanish public channel, has bought the rights to broadcast the sport and the semi-finals and final of each tournament, which can now be seen on television.
This increase in the number of fans has also led to more and more brands wanting to sponsor players or advertise at tournaments. “Currently, the top 40 players can make a living from this sport alone, and professionals can charge more than 100,000€ in advertising deals,” they add from the WPT (World Padel Tour). In addition, for winning a Master tournament, each player in the pair receives 21,000 euros in prizes.
Racquet brands are another advantage of this progression. One of the sports companies that has bet the most on this sport is Head, with sponsorship agreements with great players, such as Fernando Belasteguín, former number one in the ranking, according to a spokesperson for the said company, which has a sales growth, year after year, of between 10 and 15%. Market data indicate that it is stagnating in many areas, according to this brand, because there is no room for other tracks or clubs in Madrid, Andalusia or Levante … However, in other areas such as the north, there is still room for growth. “We’ve gone from grassroots to professional level,” says the WPT.
This increase in the number of bases is experienced first hand by the paddle clubs. One of the biggest successes is the Padel Club de La Moraleja, which in just four years of history has already reached its student limit: 700 registered. These users pay an average of 200 euros per quarter for one hour of classes per week. “Since we started, we have doubled our enrolment year after year,” explains Pablo Neira, director of the sports centre. Corporate events are another source of income, “we organise an average of 130 events a year, one every three days,” adds the director. For a paddle morning with referees, coverage, sound service and a cocktail party, companies pay around 2,000 euros.
On a professional level, although it only started as a championship in Spain, the first tournament of the season took place this year in the United States, in the city of Miami. But this will not be the only international stage of the World Padel Tour, they will also travel to Portugal, Andorra, Argentina, England, Belgium and France. This growth is also visible in paddle clubs, “there is already one club in Thailand with 300 members and five clubs in Japan, we are the fastest growing sport”, insists the WPT.