Asian Tour says Europe merger will be game-changer
The merger of two of the world’s major golf tours will see the largest shake-up of the professional game since the European Tour was created more than 40 years ago, Asian Tour CEO Mike Kerr told AFP.
The European and Asian tours declared last week that they intend to combine their playing memberships and business dealings into a mega-tour that will stretch from the Atlantic coast of Ireland to the shores of the Pacific in the Far East.
“I can’t think of anything bigger,” Kerr said in a phone interview, when asked whether it was golf’s most important development since the European Tour’s creation in 1972.
Kerr said details of the new tour could be announced very soon as talks to hammer out the details were already at an advanced stage.
“We are working through this as fast as we can,” he said. “I don’t envisage it will be a protracted and prolonged process. In some way we’ve been through at least some of the tough discussions and negotiations between us and now it’s about coming together and making this a reality. When we get further details that we are able to deliver I think we will do that. There’s no reason for us to hold back.”
Kerr said discussions were “confidential” but did confirm that there would in future be just one tour with a single membership comprising the current players on the European and Asia Tours. “This will involve the merger of the memberships and the merger of the business,” he said. “You can make that leap, yes, to say there will be a single membership.
“It will be based on merit and the Asian Tour members will effectively get access to the entire schedule of tournaments that would be included in any future tour.”
Kerr says ultimately the tours are there to benefit their members — the players — and the merger will ensure long-term stability in a sport which has seen some events disappear from the calendar in recent years. “I don’t think that we would have embarked on this had we not believed that actually it would satisfy our core purpose, to deliver more earnings and more opportunities for all of our members,” he said.
He said that the announcement had been well received within the game and it now was a case of talking to the players and ensuring they understood the plan and were comfortable with it. “We are now starting that process on both sides. Everything that I have heard, either through the media, through partners, sponsors or from players has been very positive. Quite honestly there has been no negativity whatsoever. Most importantly we need to get to our members, to ensure they understand these details, to ensure they’re comfortable with them and effectively approve them going forward.”
He would not be drawn on whether this would mean the end of their struggling rivals, the OneAsia Tour, which has staged just six tournaments so far in 2015. “You will have to ask them,” he said, but added the merger would start to mend Asia’s “fractured” golf scene.