European Tour CEO Keith Pelley has quashed any suggestion that financial difficulties were behind the decision to forge a new ‘strategic alliance’ with the PGA Tour.
The two Tours jointly announced on Friday a new historic partnership, that will see the organisations work more closely together on scheduling and playing opportunities for members.
The PGA Tour will acquire a minority investment stake in European Tour Productions and their commissioner Jay Monahan will take a seat on the board of the European Tour, with Pelley believing the agreement is of benefit to both organisations.
“If this was a financial situation, we would have done far more than a strategic alliance with a minority investment,” Pelley told a media conference. “I can tell you we are categorically not in financial difficulties.
“We are in robust financial health with a very strong balance sheet, strongest ever and a strong support of networks of partners. We have played 23 events since July in Q3 and Q4, creating 15 from scratch, showing incredible resilience and flexibility.
“Also, at the same time, funding a health strategy and Covid testing of another three million. I don’t think that this is a business or that it simply would have been possible for a business which did not have robust finances.
“Let me be perfectly clear: We did not have to enter into this agreement or any other. We chose to because it is in the best interests of both tours, for our players, for our golf fans, and for global professional golf.”
The new partnership also raised questions about the possibility of a future merger between the European Tour and PGA Tour, although Pelley insisted that wasn’t the case.
“If this was a merger, or a pathway to a merger, it would have to have significant benefits for our members,” Pelley added. “In order for a merger to ever happen, it would need 75 per cent of the membership vote and consensus.
“This is day one of a partnership, and we really want to build this partnership and really want to grow this relationship. But categorically not, this is not a merger.
“This was just a moment in time when everything aligned. This year, Covid has brought numerous challenges, but also numerous opportunities. We have both spent less time travelling and more time talking as part of the group with the four majors, and Jay [Monahan] and I started sharing our best practises.
“I think the whole process made us realise, you know, we are in this game together, and we have so many synergies. We are both committed to growth and globalisation of golf, and I think the Covid showed us that actually we shouldn’t be competing against each other.
“We should be pulling together and aggregating our skills and our best practises, our commercial streams to ultimately benefit both tours and the game of golf, which has seen an incredible boost, and I think what we can do together, it really gets me excited.”
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