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Major League Pickleball and PPA merger under threat

Season One Super Finals at Life Time Rancho San Clemente in San Clemente, CA. The Seattle Pioneers take on the Los Angeles Mad Drops in the Premier League’s mixed doubles competition.

Source: Major League Pickleball

There are problems in pickleball heaven.

The Professional Pickleball Association and Major League Pickleball are now at odds after announcing in November that they would join forces and merge the competitive team leagues.

The PPA told CNBC that MLP has yet to sign the partnership agreement it verbally agreed to 10 months ago. PPA owner Tom Dundon and MLP owner Steve Kuhn had agreed to operate the joint league under the MLP brand and format. Terms of the deal were not disclosed at the time.

“I don’t know what Steve Kuhn’s intentions were all this time,” PPA Tour CEO Connor Pardoe told CNBC. “I don’t know if he led us down a path that allowed us to access our players and try to be in a stronger position here later.”

Pardoe says MLP executives have recently gone radio silent. He also said that PPA had been informed by some of its players that MLP had started offering lucrative deals. He said PPA would consider legal action if MLP improperly poached players.

Kuhn told CNBC there were “many distortions of reality,” without providing details.

On Thursday, MLP announced that it had begun signing top-tier players for guaranteed multi-year contracts. The deals include an off-season player and improved financial security.

“We believe this is a good thing that will make MLP more valuable. This will make the lives of players more successful and better. And we will also continue to elevate the sport and help it grow,” Kuhn said. .

He said if the PPA was willing to pay its players more, he would be willing to talk about a league roster.

“We asked the PPA to join us in paying players more, and their reaction was that we were paying players too much,” Kuhn told CNBC.

Over the past year, MLP has seen continued growth with new high profile ownership groups, increasing team valuations, new sponsorships and media deals. In July, MLP announced that Julio DePietro was taking over as CEO. He took over from Zubin Mehta, who resigned from the board, to broker the deal.

Competing leagues have had complicated relationships.

The PPA has always acted as a tour type league for the best players in the world. Two years ago, Kuhn introduced team pickleball. Since then, the two leagues have operated independently.


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