According to a statement released on Saturday, negotiations between the Wentworth Estates Roads Committee (WERC), a statutory body created under an Act of Parliament as custodian of Wentworth Estate, and Wentworth Club and the European Tour have broken down in relation to arrangements for the 2016 PGA Championship, due to be held at Wentworth from 26 to 29 May.
The statement continues: “WERC is very concerned about the failure of its efforts to ensure that the European Tour adheres to the rules on the Estate and offers a fair financial deal for residents. The hosting of this annual tournament is supported by the majority of residents, subject to its correct management. WERC also appreciates its importance to the golfing world.
“Since mid-2015, WERC has been undertaking a comprehensive review of its partnership with the event to ensure that on one hand it complies with the rules and covenants of the Estate, but also that the commercial arrangements reflect the considerable disruption to residents and the European Tour’s extensive exploitation of the Estate’s infrastructure.
WERC concerns revolve around the following issues:
- The event currently utilizes land owned by WERC without its permission, including for the construction of cable bridges over Estate roads for TV broadcasting.
- Advertising hoardings, including those placed on WERC’s own land, are erected without permission and are in breach of Estate covenants.
- The set up and take-down time of this single event has increased significantly in recent years to the point where it now spans a quarter of the year.
- The annual payment from the European Tour to the WERC is completely inadequate and reflects neither the inconvenience borne by the residents nor the commercial value derived by the European Tour from using WERC land and other infrastructure.
“Whilst the review undertaken by WERC was initiated before the recent negotiations between Estate residents and the Club owners, that process did help to highlight areas under the responsibility of WERC which required attention from the Committee.
“The attitude of the Club towards the members, many of which are residents, has changed the tolerance level of many residents and damaged the harmony in which the Club and residents have collaborated over the years. Many residents have raised issues with the Committee particularly in relation to the fact that the commercial arrangements with the Tour are entirely unsatisfactory; residents want a more commercial arrangement commensurate with the value derived from the event.”
Tariq Rafique, Vice Chairman of WERC, said: “The residents of the estate are very supportive of hosting the PGA Championship event and it is a great shame that the European Tour has been unable to meet our concerns and put in place a reasonable arrangement which respects the rules and covenants governing the Estate.”
“Frankly, the last thing the residents of Wentworth wanted was another public argument, but we want to ensure everyone plays by the rules and that residents are treated fairly. We tried to initiate this discussion in September of last year and it is most regrettable that this matter was not addressed sooner by the European Tour and the Club. We sincerely hope that these issues can be resolved and that the PGA Championship can take place as planned, with the full support of residents, as has happened previously over several decades.”
A spokesperson for The European Tour said: “As we have stated in the past, this is a dispute between the Wentworth Estates Roads Committee and the Wentworth Club itself.
“The European Tour has looked to engage in constructive dialogue with the WERC over a number of months in an attempt to resolve matters but to no avail, as the WERC’s demands were extortionate and unreasonable.
“Furthermore, we do not believe that WERC would have any grounds for legal action and any claim at this stage would be unsuccessful. In addition, the action they took this week to attempt to disrupt the build was unlawful and the WERC have been advised of this by the Wentworth Club’s lawyers.
“The BMW PGA Championship makes a significant economic contribution to the local area and community, including raising in excess of £2 million over the past eight years for charitable causes, the vast majority of these beneficiaries being children’s charities.
“The 2016 BMW PGA Championship – which is scheduled from May 26-29 – hopes to raise a significant amount of money for Cancer Research UK Kids & Teens charity – the Championship’s official charity for this year. There is zero chance that this year’s Championship will not take place.”
Visit HERE for more information and tickets for the BMW PGA Championship 26th – 29th May, the Practice Day 24th May and the Celebrity Pro-Am Day on 25th May.
European Tour www.europeantour.com