Is the European Tour in trouble?

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European Tour chief Keith Pelley's desire to create a world tour was written about in a recent report in The Times, but it also shed light on a number of financial issues

Think things are bad on the LET? The Times has cast doubts on the financial stability of the European Tour, which made an operating loss of £9.5 million after tax in 2017. Cash reserves also dipped by more than £7 million to £9.6 million, while working capital was only £424,000. In 2015, it was £15 million.

According to the report, Tour chief Keith Pelley insists this – and a £2 million hike in wage bills – was to be expected the year before a Ryder Cup, and told The Times that profits from Paris will ensure that the four-year cycle from 2015 will be “close to break[ing] even”. How close that is remains to be seen, however.   

The tour’s botched website relaunch, which cost £1 million, was a PR and financial disaster, while revelations that Pelley was paid more than £2.75 million in 2017 has raised more than a few eyebrows.

His position has also been questioned by Thomas Bjorn, who reacted badly to the news that Pelley has held talks on a “conceptual level” about a World Tour with Jay Monahan (the focus of The Times piece), his American counterpart at the PGA.

“The European Tour has a responsibility to protect the professional game in Europe and that is proving increasingly difficult,” said Bjorn last week.

Pelley says he remains committed to “leading the global transformation of the game”, but is currently locked in a dispute with former tour pro John McHenry for trying to do just that. McHenry had previously approached Pelley with a similar idea to GolfSixes but was offered an ex gratia payment of £30,000 – which he rejected as insulting – after talks ended and Pelley decided to go it alone.

The tour has been forced to underwrite the £3 million cost of GolfSixes as a result, and could be about to take another financial hit following the decision by the Employment Tribunal to rule in favour of Scott Kelly, a former group marketing director, for unfair dismissal. If unsuccessful with its appeal, the tour will be forced to re-engage Mr Kelly and make salary back-payments, which could be substantial.

To read the full article from The Times and Pelley's ideas on a world tour, click here