McGinley: Huge financial and logistical challenges facing global tour idea

Ronan MacNamara
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Paul McGinley (Photo by Oisin Keniry/Getty Images)

Ronan MacNamara

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The new buzz phrase in the world of golf at the moment is “global tour” with Rory McIlroy and Keith Pelley leading the bandwagon over the last few weeks with Ireland even being mooted as a potential destination for an elite tournament in the future.

However, 2014 Ryder Cup captain and Sky Sports columnist, Paul McGinley isn’t overly enamoured with the idea and sees potential challenges and roadblocks in the proposal for a worldwide tour.

Writing in his latest column for Sky Sports ahead of this week’s Dubai Desert Classic, McGinley outlined his concerns over the “huge financial and logistical challenges” facing the idea including how a global tour could appeal to American TV audiences who have already seen golf viewing numbers plummet over the last twelve months.

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“While there is exciting talk of the game becoming more global and less US-centric with top-quality events being brought to Europe, South Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Australia, there are huge financial and logistical challenges,” McGinley said.

“The time differences, for example, dictate that live golf can often not be available to the huge and financially lucrative TV audiences in America.

“At the present time, American TV stations do pay substantial sums for live coverage but TV companies in the rest of the world do not seem to have an appetite to do similar for what they see to be a relatively small sport. An alternative, of course, could be a Netflix model and the tours going direct to consumer. Again, however, the challenges and set up costs are enormous.

“Sponsors will want big viewing figures to justify the huge financial outlay they are called upon to make. Golf does not produce the big viewing figures of soccer, Formula 1 or the NFL.”

Given the current state of the game and the fractious nature of the framework agreement negotiations, McGinley feels that aiming for a global tour is too far fetched at present and having one premier event per month could be the way forward on a smaller scale to try and reunite the game.

“A deal could be as simple as this: at the moment from April to July, we have one premier event a month. A starting point could be to identify another event a month where players from both tours could qualify to play.

“The PGA Tour, DP World Tour and LIV could still continue their tours in the off weeks. That would be a start as we try to repair the fracture and reunite the game.”

The Dubliner feels the biggest losers over the past two years have been the public who are missing out on watching the top players on a weekly basis as they are served up diluted tour events outside of the four major championships which will allow the likes of Brooks Koepka, Jon Rahm, Cameron Smith, Dustin Johnson and Bryson DeChambeau to compete with the PGA Tour players.

“With the emergence of LIV, a competitor with massive financial resources, all players have hugely benefitted. When all this started, Phil Mickelson was quoted as saying that for the first time in the history of professional golf the players now had leverage. How right he has been proven to be and how they have used it to their financial advantage

“The biggest losers have been the public as the game has become diluted in its talent. With the very top players now only playing together in the majors, no one gets to see the very strongest of fields competing regularly.

“I believe and hope that common ground will be found in some shape or form. Executives on both sides are working hard behind the scenes to find solutions that could satisfy both parties and reunite the game.

“I believe that ultimately, they will get there. To resolve the situation is complex but it is important to get started. Things can evolve should a pathway and some agreement be identified.”

 

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