Rowland leverages GB talent for sport domination

The opportunities to develop padel in the UK are myriad – and big-hitting new entrant R3 Sport has revealed multi-million pound plans to drive it forward. RJ Mitchell reports.

A new name – R3 Sport – has launched onto the UK padel scene with financial backing running into double digit millions and plans to be a sport agent, club operator, top level tournament organiser (including the UK’s first Super League) and padel equipment/apparel distributor.

R3 Sport founder Jonathan Rowland, well-known in padel circles, has already snaffled GB men’s internationals Nikhil Mohindra as a co-founder of R3, his GB team-mate Sam Jones as an early investor. GB player Frankie Langan is also part of the R3 family.

Fellow GB ace Chris Salisbury, brother of tennis doubles Grand Slam winner Joe Salisbury, and British international Catherine Rose will also be managed by R3, with more top of the top’ padel names to come.

“By signing eight of the top GB men and women (four other ‘names’ have still to be announced) we have cornered the market in terms of the ability to market GB padel through the players at the top of their profession in this country,” Rowland – also co-founder of Redwood Bank – told The Bandeja. “We offer a different approach as we back the players with the support, sponsorship and connections I have through 30 years in business.”

Padel plan

Rowland’s four point plan (brands, players, venues, events) will, he hopes, revolutionise the sport: “I think that the market and the environment have changed so much that it pushed me to create a company with my primary objective to look at the market and where the opportunities were and make a move when I thought the time was right.

“I had seen a couple of things outside the UK but I want to keep it UK focussed and what I’ve tried to do is create a company with four different divisions. You have the brands, and obviously we took over the Bull Padel distribution in the UK and Ireland in an exclusive agreement, and we will look to add other leading brands to that over the coming months.”

Jonathan Rowland, R3 Sport
Jonathan Rowland, R3 Sport
Javier Lopez Garcia, a former padel pro and now coach of the UAE national team, is a non-exec director of R3.
Javier Lopez Garcia, a former padel pro and now coach of the UAE national team, is a non-exec director of R3.
Nikhil Mohindra, GB international padel player
GB internationals Nikhil Mohindra (above) and Sam Jones (below) are R3 Sport investors.


Rowland, a self-confessed padel fanatic, was introduced to the game in Argentina a number of years ago. And although R3 Sport was formed in 2023 the devil in the detail has been such that it has taken 12 months to go public.

Confirming how serious he is to become the UK’s undisputed No 1 padel business ‘player’ Rowland said: “We have commitments for well in excess of double figure millions. I won’t give it a number as I don’t have an exact figure but as I said it is well over double digit millions.

“We have the money in place to back up our plans and our statements. We will be doing this properly, professionally and to the best of our ability within the UK.”

Spanish racket brand Bullpadel consolidated its position in the UK and Irish markets last year by partnering with London-based multi-sports distribution company MRH Sport, founded by Max Holloway, formerly of adidas and Babolat, and R3 Sport. Bullpadel is Spain’s oldest native padel brand, acquired by padel specialist Aguirre y Cia some 20 years ago. Pictured (from left) Fernando Manzanares (Aguirre), Jonathan Rowland, Nikhil Mohindra, Luis Cabanyes (Aguirre) and Max Holloway.

Court building

In its first year R3 plans to start building two padel tennis venues in the UK with between 16 and 20 courts, which will make it one of the biggest, if not the biggest, court operator in the country (Rocket Padel in Bristol currently leads the way with 12 doubles and two singles). Longer term R3 plans to bring pickleball and other up-and-coming sports into its fold. 

Rowland said: “A noticeable lack of infrastructure and facilities has placed the UK in a disadvantaged position in this sport, thereby creating a substantial investment window of opportunity. By establishing a dedicated enterprise focused on padel, financed and under the leadership of seasoned professionals, we aim to become a pivotal driving force in shaping the future of padel within the UK.”

The company has raised capital from private investors and secured credit facilities in order to deliver its strategy of building padel venues, working with padel brands, organising events and managing elite athletes in the sport. It’s working with JMW Solicitors’ padel business team – the first dedicated legal team for padel in the UK – which is advising on infrastructure, exploitation of rights, commercial partnerships and franchising opportunities.

There are 350 courts (in the UK) and demand for 1,500, so there is room for everyone.”

Jonathan Rowland, founder, R3 Sport


Venue-wise R3 is on the look-out for a perfect ‘for-purpose’ location to house its debut event, pencilled in for the end of the year. It also has facilities lined up in East and West London and an academy venue on the radar. This, as Rowland revealed, could either be built from the ground up or adapted from a current venue, with the Olympic Village among those touted as a possible front runner.

“It (the Olympic Village) might be and it is certainly one of the venues we are looking at, also the Copper Box, but we also might create our own event in a purpose built place. We are talking to various parties about building a court and a stadium structure within an environment like a park but we are also in dialogue with the Olympic Village, the O2, ExCel and places like that.

“I’m not saying it will be tens of thousands of people but certainly thousands which hasn’t been done and it will certainly be the biggest event promoted in the UK so far with the prize money pot also the biggest. The players it will attract will be of a nature not seen in the UK so far.”

Super League

One of the key vehicles to drive all of this is a Super League featuring up to eight franchised teams likely to be celebrity backed much like those which competed in the recent Hexagon Cup, in which Andy Murray’s Team AD/vantage was victorious.

At this stage The Bandeja understands that R3 has not been in dialogue with Murray about entering a team but Rowland admits a collaboration with Hexagon could be on the table down the line. He said: “We will be launching the Padel Super League officially shortly, with six to eight franchises fronted by famous people from in and outside the padel world. The rules will be that you will have to field players of a certain ranking and above. So there will certainly be players not seen before and with a celebrity involved.

“It will be similar to the Hexagon Cup in its make-up but UK-based. We will be looking to hold an event before the end of the year which will be the biggest event the UK has seen. We are doing that with various partners which will make it interesting in terms of sponsorship, so really the vision was to create a padel company for the UK covering brands, players, events, and venues and take the best of all and we are well on the way to that.”

With R3’s shrewd Bull Padel deal securing access to some of the game’s biggest stars that should make the recruitment drive fascinating.

Interestingly at least one franchise could be football orientated. Manchester City and Liverpool both have padel courts at their training centres but when it comes to a Premiership padel partner there may be another star player, as Rowland shared: “We are and have been in conversation with a Premier League team for some time and also with lower division teams.

“They have courts at Nottingham Forest now and Mansfield are also building some and there is certainly a conversation we have been having with a Premiership team who are top of the top. There is definitely a correlation between football and padel.

“The main thing is that this will be something different, something bigger and something that appeals to everyone,” he said. “So not just padel but also with an element of other things around it, a weekend with other activities which will be inclusive of everyone, ladies, kids, celebrities, professionals, all of that involved with it.

“The plans will be unveiled later in March and it will be something not done before, with people who haven’t been involved before, who can develop the sport further. But most of all we want to promote the sport, support the LTA and I see it as a very inclusive thing. A lot of people want to keep things to themselves and the sport is too small for that and in my view we have to work together.”

One thing that you can’t get away from is that Rowland means business and is determined to be the best while working with other key players. 🎾

Padel Aid/R3 Sport
R3 Sport is also behind a charity event - Padel Aid - pencilled in for May with a mix of ‘A’ list celebs and Team GB internationals, all with the aim of raising funds for an as yet unspecified beneficiary.