European Tour CEO predicts ‘radically different’ future
European Tour CEO Keith Pelley has advised Tour players to be prepared for a “radically different” Race to Dubai make-up when the Tour eventually resumes its schedule following the coronavirus pandemic.
Pelley forwarded an email memo to all members including the likes of World No. 1 Rory McIlroy and Open Champion, Shane Lowry, advising of the potential impact with regards to Tour finances, various tournament sponsors and TV broadcasting rights.
Keith Pelley (Credit: European Tour)
Pelley went as far to also point out those comforts that the players take for granted including opulent player lounges and the provision of courtesy cars could be in doubt at various Race to Dubai events.
“Our tour has enjoyed a significant period of growth in recent years, in terms of prize funds, playing opportunities and the overall standard of our events, as well as our broadcast product,” said Pelley.
“The impact of the coronavirus has stopped this rapid momentum in its tracks, and it will, in fact, require us to reassess many elements.”
Pelley warned that when play does eventually return the players need to prepare themselves for several changes including:
“The schedule and the infrastructure of tournaments could look radically different from what you have been used to. 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.”
“Prize funds will also most likely be different. 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.”
“We are looking at options such as (a) multiple tournaments in the same location; (b) two tournaments in the same week, or three in a fortnight; or (c) three or four tournaments back-to-back in the UK with a 14-day ‘quarantine’ period ahead of that to allow players not from the UK to come over and self-isolate in advance, if that health requirement is still in place then.”
Both Pelly and his PGA Tour counterpart, Commissioner Jay Monahan have been doing their best to keep their members advised in this time of world crisis.
“I am aware that PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan sent a message to PGA Tour members over the weekend offering financial support to them during these uncertain times,” said Pelley.
“We are simply not in a position to be able to do that. While I appreciate this crisis is going to significantly impact many of you financially through loss of earnings, as a Tour we are having to implement a number of tough measures both in the short and long term.”
And like all organisations, Pelley indicated that staff at European Tour’s HQ at Wentworth in leafy Surrey have been furloughed on the government scheme and that he – along with several others – have taken a salary reduction until further notice.
“The stark reality is redundancies may be unavoidable further down the line,” said Pelley.
“We are doing everything we possibly can to come through this, but be prepared that the 2021 schedule may look profoundly different to the 2019 or the 2018 schedule.”
“This is difficult for all of us to face after the tireless work we have all undertaken to grow our Tour over the last five years, but this is the new reality.”
The European Tour has been forced to postpone 11 events so far along with two cancellations including the Open Championship, which will now take place at the same course and time slot in 2021.
Pelley also indicated that the Masters moving back to mid-November has created clashes with end-of-season tournaments such as the Nedbank Challenge, which is due to take place the same week as the Masters (Nov 12-15) and the DP World Tour Championship on November 19.