A memo sent out by the European Tour to its players has said they should expect to play a significantly different schedule, compete for smaller prize funds, and face the possibility of playing events behind closed doors, as the tour feels the impact of the global coronavirus pandemic.
According to a report from The Telegraph newspaper, the memo, which was signed by European Tour CEO Keith Pelley, outlined what players should expect when the tour returns.
“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,” Pelley said. “The impact of coronavirus has stopped this rapid momentum in its tracks, and it will, in fact, require us to reassess many elements.”
Some of those alterations could include the elimination of “top class players’ lounges or courtesy car services,” but the biggest involves the cutting of tournament earnings.
“Prize funds will also most likely be different,” Pelley said. “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 the sponsorship and broadcast areas.”
Pelley also speculated the European Tour may not return until the autumn, and when it does, several tournaments could be played at the same venue in order to ease congestion in the 2020 schedule, which is due to finish at the DP World Championship in Dubai on November 22.
“Let us say we are given the go-ahead by governments and health authorities to resume play in the first week of September,” Pelley said. “That gives us 16 weeks between then and Christmas to try and play as many tournaments as possible. 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.”
Pelley finished the memo by noting that Rolex Series event and tournaments based in the UK are the priority for the Tour and its broadcaster, Sky Sports, saying the Tour will ‘play behind closed doors if necessary’.
UK-based events include the British Masters at Close House, which was originally scheduled for July 30-August 2, and the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth, which was due to be played on September 10-13.