News & Opinion

Keith Pelley gives European Tour a dose of reality

Effects of coronavirus on sponsorship will alter the tour, chief executive tells players in a memo obtained by The Telegraph of London, with lower prize funds and a crimp on the schedule

European Tour players were warned by chief executive Keith Pelley that the circuit could look “radically different” upon emerging from its coronavirus-induced suspension of play, The Telegraph of London’s James Corrigan reported.

Keith Pelley, chief executive of the European Tour
Keith Pelley, chief executive of the European Tour

Citing a memo obtained by the Telegraph, the report alerts players to the likelihood of reduced prize funds and a condensed tournament infrastructure that could include multiple events in the same week.

Pelley also questioned the tour’s ability to provide numerous creature comforts to the players.

“Many of the things you have become accustomed to, such as top-class players’ lounges or courtesy car services, will most likely assume a different appearance, if indeed they are present at all. . . . The reality is, the pandemic is going to have a profound impact on the tour financially, as well as many of our partners, both in sponsorship and broadcast areas.”

The European Tour has struggled to match the prize money and prestige of the PGA Tour over the years, with many of Europe’s top golfers playing primarily in the U.S., where tournaments often award more money and world-ranking points.

The PGA Tour recently announced plans for financial assistance to its players, but Pelley conceded that the European Tour is “not in a position to do that.”

The European Tour has postponed or canceled 12 tournaments this year, including the R&A's first scrubbing of the British Open since 1945, the last year of World War II. The tour's next scheduled event is the BMW International Open on June 25-28 in Munich, Germany.

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