AFP: European Tour CEO Keith Pelley is confident a new ‘strategic alliance’ will be reached shortly with the Asian Tour and be in place for the start of the 2017 season.
One of Pelley’s first initiatives in taking over the European Tour last August was to announce a proposal to reinforce the strengths of the two Tours by maximising global opportunities, as well as increasing playing opportunities and prize funds for the respective memberships.
The alliance was seen as a natural extension in the existing partnership between the two Tours dating back to February 1999, when the first co-sanctioned tournament – the Malaysian Open – was staged at the Saujana Golf & Country Club in Kuala Lumpur.
Since then nearly 100 co-sanctioned events have been staged, the latest being the 20 March concluding Hero Indian Open won by India’s own SSP Chawrasia.
However, a change last December in the Asian Tour board of directors, including the resignation of CEO Mike Kerr and the appointment of leading Indonesian businessman, Jimmy Masrin as the new chairman has seen the ‘alliance’ put on hold.
“What has transpired with the Asian Tour over the last number of weeks has been incredibly positive,” said Pelley.
“It has taken time because they have gone through a complete board change. The original Memorandum of Understanding we negotiated in November was put on pause until a new board in place and they knew what they were doing with their organisational structure.
“We met in Malaysia at the EurAsia Cup with their new board and we sat down with them in India with members of their board and Tournament Committee and they responded about a month ago to our Memorandum in terms of what they thought would work for their Asian Tour players.
“We’ve evaluated that and we’re now entering into very serious discussions. Hopefully they will be positive and we will have something new announced very shortly in terms of a strategic alliance.”
Pelley, who was speaking on the final day of the PGA Championship at Wentworth, added he was confident this new alliance would be in place for the start of the 2017 season.
“I’m confident now that discussions are heading in the right direction,” he said.
“Discussions have heated up and I’m confident we’ll come to a resolution. The goal is we would add resources there and work with them to create more tournaments in Asia in the coming years.”