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July 2, 2008
ASH, KENT, ENGLAND
SCOTT CROCKETT: Thank you for your attendance today, and welcome to what's a very special day for The European Tour. I hope you've enjoyed your lunch if you were over at the pavilion and now we'll press on, as I say, it's a special day for the Tour. Before I we get on, I'll introduce the top table to my immediate right is David Spencer, Chief Executive Golf, Leisurecorp; to his right is George O'Grady, Chief Executive of The European Tour; to George's right, Keith Waters Director of International Policy for The European Tour; and on the far right is Scott Kelly, Marketing Director for The European Tour. It's appropriate that we end with, Scott and he will take us through the presentation. Scott?
SCOTT KELLY: Thank you ladies and gentlemen and welcome to The London Club. This is essentially a media briefing following the players' meeting which was held at Wentworth Club during the BMW PGA Championship. It's a chance to show you in advance essentially the new European Tour identity which will become part of The Race to Dubai starting November 2008.
The brand is much more than the logo. We have conducted extensive over the last 18 months into this exercise, and one of the things that came out amongst our partners, and really the people we work with around the world is the strength of the look that The European Tour holds and represents in terms of the players and the values.
We set about this exercise in looking of refresh the iden tity of The European Tour, by looking essentially at the constituent parts of it. The name is by far and away the most important element, and was one of the items in which we sought really to take a lot of counsel from. There's a lot of people that have felt we should call ourselves: World Tour, International Tour, the Global Tour, in conducting the research, a number of people have come back to say that the values The European Tour represents in terms of the players, the cultures, traditions that we have within how we operated our tournaments are very valuable. Essentially we had a lot of reinforcement back to retain the name for The European Tour.
The other elements of the logo are the colour, the graphic design of the rings, and finally golfer itself, a player that's become fatter and squatter over time, rather like myself. Essentially this is because the logo, about 75 per cent actually time appears on television, so is a technical requirement. But this golfing figure representing the Tour, does he actually do that. That's one of the things we set about questioning, as well.
Really, we studied in looking for the new identity in The Race to Dubai, which will become the Order of Merit; so the Order of Merit is going to become The Race to Dubai. It seemed to make sense to start to look at the actual Order of Merit itself. And this photograph epitomises in many ways what we are trying to capture, which was the history and tradition, Harry Vardon Trophy was presented first in 1937, carries the name of all Europe greatest players and many of the world's greatest players, and captured in many ways the essence of what we are trying to convey, and also the spirit of the future, which Justin Rose represented when he won.
So we look back into the history books, and Harry Vardon was in many people's opinion the world's first professional, travelling golf professional, and he represented many of the values and ideals that could become an iconic figure.
So we set about committing to launch a new face for the Tour, using Harry Vardon to create something which would give a fresh look to the tour, yet rooted in the rich heritage of Harry Vardon himself and all that he represents in the history and tradition of playing the game on our circuit.
There's a new brand architecture which we will be introducing to our partners, as we said. This is a briefing to yourselves to essentially to give you a preview of what we will launch in November of 2008, but this will come across the Seniors Tour and Challenge Tour, as well, which will both be revitalised as will all of our supporter devices for sponsors and suppliers.
Essentially, as well, this gives us an opportunity to review all of the aspects and address issues which people have raised with us. We are introducing a new symbol called the "World Skyline" which captures many of the unique aspects of the Tour on our International Schedule travelling around the world, looking at a graphic representing some of the iconic buildings in the world, and in many ways is a representation which captures the spirit of The Race to Dubai itself and we culminate at the Palm at the Burj al Arab Hotel at The Dubai World Championship. This is a symbol which captures in many way the essence of the 53 tournaments in the 26 countries around the world.
The other support elements we are bringing in is the multilingual text to represent the culture, the ethnicity, the many nations and cultures that are represented on the Tour. There are 46 different nationalities on the membership on the Tour, and this new graphic device will help us not only represent their own backgrounds, but will also give us an opportunity to adopt the culture and language of the local markets in which we are playing.
This is how the graphics and player energy will combine, using the passion and performance of the players as individuals with this graphic background of the skyline. These some of the representations, but we will pick up on the local language, depending on the culture and cities that we are playing in.
We'll introduce a new corporate identity for the Tour itself across the three Tours beginning in November this year. A major challenge for us and change is always a challenge and George is up for change. And this is a major exercise in logistics for us, and we'll be communicating both to our sponsors and the media through the course of the year.
This will give us an opportunity to create a consistent brand them, from Harry Vardon, as icon from the past, being absorbed into the new identity of The European Tour, leading to The Race to Dubai and a new identity for the Order of Merit, which is The Race to Dubai, and the symbol which combines the trophy with Harry Vardon himself.
This gives us an opportunity within the branding to -- as you will see this week, we have taken the identity of the Tour, The Race, into a new opportunity for us, which is to bring the branding into events. You will see at The European Open this week, the launch of the European Open's identity bringing in Harry Vardon. The South African Open next season will feature a similar graphic, as well as The Dubai World Championship at the end of November 2009.
This tournament branding features this week, features the European skyline itself, some iconic buildings of Europe with the national identities of the flag. Similar idea picked up in South Africa with the colours of the national flag providing a very dynamic backdrop to the event which will take place at Pearl Valley.
And finally, the new graphics and identity for The Dubai World Championship, which will be held in November 2009 in Dubai, which features the world skyline and the colours of the United Arab Emirates flag.
You've seen the physiotherapy bus introduced earlier this year which captures the elements and epitomises how the race will take place during the course of the season. The brand launch timeline is being presenting to you this week as a media briefing. Volvo Masters in Spain at the end of the season will see the end of the current European Tour identity being launched at the HSBC Champions in Shanghai and start with The Race to Dubai, with the Race to Dubai running through the whole of the season to culminate at the Dubai World Championship in November 2009.
European Tour has been celebrating golf for many years and celebrating the heritage and celebrating the tradition, celebrating the tradition, celebrating the diversity, celebrating cities we visit, and I think the best to epitomise that and how we intend to inject ourselves in the next few years is to show you a film.
GEORGE O'GRADY: Thank you, Scott, and thank everyone for attending today and finding the time to join us.
We thought it was a very appropriate time to give this briefing this week, because I think everyone knows The European Open has fallen back into our lap after a long period with the Smurfit Company in Ireland, and is part of our major strategy for the future in how we build on the capital development of The European Tour and our long-running strategies to develop really good golf complexes for our Membership.
I think it's also the timing; timing they say is largely everything. We thought we had to come up with a change. We have been looking at this for about four years now; analysing our name, analysing the features that work for us, and by really looking at the world and where The European Tour is strong and where we can develop, we managed to through various means find one particular, very strong partner.
The European Tour is built on strong partnerships with many different sponsors: Volvo we've had over 20 years; very strong with BMW now; strong with lots different banks. We know we are going through a world downturn, the western world; if you believe the city pages, we are trying to talk ourselves into of recession, which we don't feel it's happening in golf.
But the belief in the confidence engender in arrangement in Dubai with Leisurecorp and Dubai World has given us a reason for looking at The European Tour. We have always believed in the Order of Merit, the race to a season-ending championship. We weren't happy with the fact that we did play 52 weeks in the year; well, 51 if you take out Christmas. The Tour didn't have definition. It didn't have a beginning; it didn't have an end.
We now want to end a crescendo at The Dubai World Championship. That means it's going to be quite difficult to reschedule some of these tournaments that have played after the date of The Dubai World Championship. That's happening now. Keith is happy to talk about how he's getting on with that if there's questions at the end.
We've had the belief of this strong partner. We wanted to put real importance back on: What is the Order of Merit; it is the race for the Vardon Trophy. Every player has it, and when you have your press pass when you go outside, you'll see some of the statements made by players who have won the Vardon Trophy. We are completely well aware of how golf is divided up; the four major championships, how they dominate the world of golf. They have come out of history and they have built on the traditions that have come through.
We have to celebrate what The European Tour is good at. We have camaraderie amongst the Membership; it has nothing to do with the staff, with how the Members drive it, and I think The Ryder Cup embodies it. Everybody asks me as an administrator, why our team plays so well. I can't answer that question. You'll have to ask them. You'll have to ask the different captains. They are all great captains, all captaining in their own different way.
But golf is strong. Volvo brought us the Volvo Tour that united Europe at the time. They gave a definition to the season, and a great season-ending Volvo Masters of what was then the undisputed No. 1 course in Continental Europe. And now I think we are free to look at the world. The amount of effort, construction and money being placed in Dubai to build the Earth Course at Jumeirah Estates, I think we have great confidence in that. Confidence; I was slightly nervous when I first saw the land they are building it on, but the development that's taking place since we announced this last November I think gives it the time.
That's why the Vardon Trophy relates for it, and it's something we wanted to build on; that and the Ryder Cup are our strengths. We want to give it back to the Membership. We have listened to the Membership. They have been a part of all these discussions on what comes, and we want to define our tour, our year, our calendar that comes to that crescendo with a really, really strong partner.
In the room with us is David Spencer. I think everyone met him at Wentworth or down in Dubai, and Alan Rogers, who I believe is David Spencer's boss, so we know he has got some boss to control him, and are relieved to see you and welcome Alan here today.
Thank you for your time. We'll take your questions. Any questions can come at me and David Spencer are happy to take questions, and Keith Waters on the schedule, and on the rebranding, Scott Kelly.
And I hope you enjoy your time at The London Club. We are particularly proud of this venue. Thank you very much.
Q. What was in effect runner-up, if you thought about changing the name of The European Tour, would you tell us what that runner-up was why and you didn't use it, and following that, David, if you could say how sanguine you are from where you sit in the world of seeing the European Tour retain the key word, "European."
GEORGE O'GRADY: I think I should start first on that one. The first guy who suggested we should look at our name, first one of our Membership, was Nick Faldo at a player meeting at Wentworth about four or five years ago. He was very happy that we told him that we were going to conduct research; and research isn't going out into the street and market research. We're talking with all of our business partners around the world and talking to other players.
I think the European International Tour was one that came forward. Everybody came up with World Tour which I think is too grand; we are not a world tour; we are not in America. We have events co-sanctioned in America in terms of the World Golf Championships and the majors that count for the Order of Merit. And of course the Global Tour; and in the end, we found it wasn't runner-up.
We talked to the Chinese; they wanted to be on the European Tour. When the Koreans came in on discussion with the slight row with the Asian Tour, which was more a misunderstanding, I don't call it a row, once you actually talk to them; India, the PGTI, Progressional Golf Tour of India, one of our strongest supporters now; the Koreans; and the Asian Tour have realised that we never invaded anybody's territory. There are masses of people coming out of other parts of the world is what enables us to have some confidence now when it's tougher back home. We are fighting in Ireland now to keep the Irish Open going, and fighting to keep a lot of tournaments; fighting in Italy; and we have strong deal with Spain now in the Federation.
Whenever we go to the other part of the world, Africa, Asia, Australia, they want European Tour. They see, it's not me; it's not us. It's our players. The players see us as The European Tour and you talk to the other Thai players, the Chinese players, they want that tag. They to be a European Tour player.
So in the end, we listened to all of the constituent parts of The European Tour and they told us: Don't change your name. Change some kind of brand if you want to, but hold where you are. So there wasn't a runner-up in the end.
DAVID SPENCER: I think we mentioned in Dubai, the Australians, we like to be mistaken for the Europeans being more sophisticated and being Australian -- (laughter) we think The European Tour is a very strong name that represents the heritage of golf. And also I point out that Jumeirah, I think there's now question, the greatest team event in the world is the Ryder Cup. And the fact is that it's the U.S. and Europe, it that adds to the strength of The European Tour, its success in the Ryder Cup. And we think that in Dubai, it also represents the rich heritage of golf.
At LeisureCorp, we have great respect for the game of golf and great respect for the players that make up The European Tour and of course the finest administration team in the world, of course. We think the refresh of the brand is fantastic, and The European Tour to us represents exactly what it is; and we felt as an aligned partner and a sponsor, there's no need to change the name.
Q. Can you explain how the qualification for the Race to Dubai to the Dubai World Championship actually works, and at the end of that Race to Dubai, once you get into the Dubai World Championship, and also how the players themselves have expressed their thoughts?
GEORGE O'GRADY: Well, the qualification for The Dubai World Championship is very simple. At end of the season on the Monday of that week, it's the Top 60 in The Race to Dubai standings, just like the old Volvo Masters. It's just the Volvo Masters on a global scale, and the players have come back to us on two ways.
First, our players committee understood what we were doing, anyway. So anybody that was on the committee, and it's representative of good players, players on all levels of the current Order of Merit standings, and one or two of the really good, top players, as well, they were all spoken to.
And I think some of the very top players reckon 60 might be too many, and The Dubai World Championship could go like America, which is 30; and some thought 40, 50. In the end, we are doing it in partnership. They like the idea of 60. You can have a player that possibly through injury, or all sorts of different reasons, maybe falls out of that Top-30. They reckon 60 is exactly right to give the size of field to give a full day's entertainment for the spectators that come. I think there was consensus.
In regards to the players, making a bigger commitment, certainly the international players who have inquired and have statements that they will play, and there are other players have said they definitely will rejoin The European Tour to come. It is widely heralded, we said the confidence at Wentworth; the current regulation is 11 tournaments to be a Member. It will be debated and possibly decided at Loch Lomond during our Tournament Committee meeting; possibly to be decided; it won't be decided. But certainly has to be decided by the Committee Meeting at the Dunhill Links. I saw Adam Scott as recently as Monday, definitely is a Member of The European Tour anyway, but he's definitely committed, if you like, to the future.
I am not so bothered about trying to recruit people who are not members of The European Tour. I'm really concerned about the ones that are Members of The European Tour and holding on to them. The people who are lifeblood who support it, and I'm talking about the Colin Montgomeries, Retief Goosens, Lee Westwoods, Darren Clarkes, these are the ones who are there day-in and day-out. Ernie Els, same thing. I am not concerned about odd spats at the end of last season. That's a scheduling issue. These are guys who have really been there when The European Tour was growing and they all have a part to play in this thing.
Others who come on board, Tiger Woods comes on board, all of the questions on that; if Tiger Woods wants to play, we have a history of making him very, very welcome. We know exactly how he is in the world of sport, let alone golf. Him, Mickelson and the rest we will welcome him with open arms, and making sure our players are really, really in the picture, really on side and really committed to it. That's where this starts.
Q. Looking at the rebranding, can you tell us who is responsible, any outside agencies involved and can you tell us how much it's going to cost and how much it will cost to putt everything through, all the stationary and all of the applications that you will have to do, and can you tell us if TaylorMade paid for it?
SCOTT KELLY: TaylorMade didn't pay for it. It's part of the bigger picture of brand development over the next five years with our partnership with Dubai. This is a wonderful opportunity for us to rebrand ourselves to really exploit many of these features that we talked about, the history, the heritage, the International Schedule, the places and countries we visit.
The second part of your question, because we stumbled on the solution to it, working through the race to the Harry Vardon Trophy, we came upon the initial solution to the work. We found it straightaway.
It's a substantial investment on our part. We have a broad range of options in the artwork, and the architecture of the a current identity is extensive. It's a substantial fund, six-figure fund, with agencies, Future Brand, a New York-based agency, one of thee Premiere League agencies in the world, and we are very happy with the work they have done on this with us.
GEORGE O'GRADY: I think it's important to give that answer that in going to Future Brand New York, we spoke with a lot of British agencies, as well, and a European agency before we came. It was important somebody looked at us on the rest of the world's perspective.
The reason we have managed to come to this agreement on The Race to Dubai that it starts on the calendar year and finishes, so we that give definition to the golf tour so we create an understandable and sustainable, and with an agency that can actually look at us from how The European Tour is perceived away from here in Europe. They have offices all the way around the world and conducted market research in all of these different offices.
As regards to cost, it's a damn site too much, I might say. And if you catch me reeling from shock, that's when the next bill comes in, but the quality of their work and the quality of their backup work has been very good, and that's why I have David Spencer to mop my brow tell me it will be all right one day. Thank you. (Laughter).
Q. Wrapping up, the end of the season, in the past we had a bizarre situation with the Volvo Masters ending on a Sunday and the following season starting on a Thursday. Can you give us an idea on positioning after the Volvo Masters, and how long of an off-season will you have?
KEITH WATERS: There's been a double aim to move the European season, which is The Race to Dubai to the calendar year.
We are going to start eventually in 2010 with the South Africa African Open, which is obviously owned and runned by Leisurecorp as part of their Pearl Valley investment, and we are going to finish with The Dubai World Championship in November.
To do that, we have this transitional period which starts this year in November with the HSBC Champions, and will run actually for 55 weeks. It will more than a year. There will be a number of events that will count twice in the first Race to Dubai. Obviously the HSBC Champions is one of those, and I think UBS Hong Kong Open will be another. This is the most efficient and cost effective way of keeping everybody involved and on side for this new race.
Obviously there are be winners and losers to these changes and it's going to be very difficult to keep the Australian events which are currently co-sanctioned to keep them in the schedule. We are working on them. We have offered some alternatives and whether they are acceptable to the Australian Tour and their sponsors; time will tell.
Also, the Dunhill and Joburg Open, they are going to have to change dates, as well. So there are going to have be changes with other tournaments and tours. A lot of that work has been progressed already, and we are quite confident we can achieve our target of moving to a calendar year in 2010 starting with the South African Open.
And also the South African Open, there won't be a tournament in the year of 2009. They will place this December, on the 21st of December and they will start on the first week of January in 2010. This is going to be a cause and effect of getting to where we want to be.
Q. Australia and New Zealand --
KEITH WATERS: Yes, I open those tournaments continue to exist. At the moment we're discussing alternative dates, and we have offered the New Zealand Open to go on the back of the Johnnie Walker next February as one of the alternatives. At the end of the day, it's their decision and it's tournament. We are still hopeful that we can find dates and possibly a Japanese event in the future.
Q. Scott, when you presented this to the players, were there any strong opinions one way or the other? Particularly the continental European players who said they were looking at a Scott Kelly-look-alike in the logo, they are now looking at a very Anglo-centric figure, rather than a Euro-centric figure.
SCOTT KELLY: Yeah, change is always controversial. It's a very subjective issue. I think one of the things that we were pleased about the design and we have tested it on television and many of the other applications is the simplicity.
There are issues about being an old-fashioned icon, but think all of the players understood how powerful the link is to the tradition of the past and how the tournament evolved. I think Justin has summed it up in that picture of how much he wanted to join that role of honour, and I think all of the players do understand that.
But the Order of Merit race, now The Race to Dubai, is something that we all clearly understand from the minute they pick up a club, and I think that's what is captured and we've had a lot of support to that notion.
Q. Has there been any market research from fans, not just players -- you said slightly old-fast fashioned energy, wonderful heritage for golf golfers?
SCOTT KELLY: I think there's a lesson to be told and a little is what you saw in the film, how we tend to expand on those virtues and assets aspects that people said they value for The European Tour, heritage, tradition, the culture and passion and performance of the players. The Tour is about the players, where they come from and how the Tour has evolved is important, and in many ways Harry has epitomised that.
Q. You talked about having to reschedule some events but playing the calendar year, you're going to have to lose some, aren't you; how many are you going to have to lose and which ones are likely to go?
KEITH WATERS: We probably will lose one or two tournaments. That depends on the decision of the Australian and South African Tours in particular and their particular tournaments. It is a possibility that we will play what we call double weeks where we will have two co-sanctions in the same week, especially in the critical period just before the Dubai World Championship to really give all of our players as much opportunity as possible to play in those closing weeks. We may have a co-sanctioned events in Shanghai with a co-sanctioned event in South Africa during the same week. It is true, we are not looking for any more tournaments and we are looking to shorten the season.
We need a period in December to host the qualifying school. We have a very difficult situation this year when the qualifying school is going to be played to a run of golf tournaments, which is not satisfactory to the players playing in the qualifying School, so we need a down period where the players will recuperate etc.
There will be other events in December. The World Cup, for instance, will be continued to be played, etc., Sun City, and there will be other places they play as they wish. But it is quite critical that we do have this period, and as we said before, it's not an ideal situation and we may lose a few events.
Q. Just wonder if there's a limit to the number of tournaments outside of Europe that the players wanted.
GEORGE O'GRADY: Well, I guess if I was a player, I would probably want every tournament in my own backyard, but the reality is that can't be done in the world as the world powers have shifted a bit. We play in Britain and there are three of the majors in this room together, ISM Company, IMG Company and ourselves. That's how tough it is when you have The Open Championship, effectively the world championship, with the rest of the world here in Britain and everybody is measured against it.
I don't think by defining the Tour the way we are now, starting in January and finishing the first full week in November, we are saying the maximum to play, but measuring opportunity with incentive, are quite difficult.
Let's just say down the line we cannot find any sponsorship for this tournament. I think within reason, we play The European Open in Europe, or it would go on the shelf, but then we would look somewhere else. If you sit still and hibernate, you can do anything. We will adjust to the world market economy.
We have done everything we can to preserve Spanish Opens Italian Opens. Open de France is now a really strong tournament, I've been there on Friday and that's got a big future, all of the shake of hands on a five-year deal; ink will have to be done. The Ryder Cup, a really strong bargaining tool for the good of European golf to preserve tournaments, and so I don't think there's a finite number either way.
If you look at the schedule Keith has got to come up with, this year, it's not ideal. Finishing the Volvo Masters in Valderrama, we were going to have a blank week, which would be the week of the Barclays Singapore Open, and now it shows how there is, in fact, negotiations and discussions between the tours, our tournament in Shanghai, the HSBC, had problems on clashes with tennis tournaments and other things there. And by speaking to the organisers of that tournament and Barclays themselves and the Asian Tour, all parties agreed to change it to the benefit of both tournaments. I think the Singapore Open had to move a bit harder than we did, and it was very good of them and there is a long-term plan there. Bob Diamond is the sponsor of that tournament; with him next week. Ideally this year we have a week off followed by the HSBC, but we have to get these things straight for 2009 season.
I think the clash of the Singapore Open last year with the Volvo Masters, really showed all parties how we have to be tighter together with no misunderstandings, because these two tournaments are too big and too good to be clashing. It might be hard to get tournament sponsors like Volvo, BMW, Barclays, the rest of them; they cannot be clashing with everybody's interests. I think that with the day and the market down with all parties, we are not getting this wrong again. If we could have more strong British tournaments, we would, but the ones we have here are mighty good and they are geographically spread across the country, the BMW PGA, ourselves, Quinn Direct British Masters at the mid land, The Open up at Birkdale, and then very strong in Scotland.
There is still the Scottish Open, Johnnie Walker and Dunhill, so that's a big responsibility on Scotland if you ally that to Open Championship basically every second year and Senior British Open; so we've done quite well in this country.
Q. Just a clarification on the possibility of co-sanctioned events going up against each other. Any danger of a two-tier system where guys will be fighting over spots in one tournament and not another?
KEITH WATERS: That's a possibility. It would be impossible to equalise the prize money, and it will be interesting to see which players decide to play in which tournaments.
It certainly isn't done. We've put this on the table for tournaments to consider. If successful, we may try to do more tournaments in the future. We are at the moment giving an opportunity to the players in the critical time of the year and we are still trying to preserve an extra one or two tournaments that have been good supporters and allies of The European Tour over the years.
Q. Any indication that the overall balance of the economy, what it's going through these days, appears set to continue that it's having any effect on events, yet you speak to positively?
GEORGE O'GRADY: If the world is having a recession, it's got to have some effect. I think it does on all tours around the world. I think all you're doing if you're running a tour, any tour, is you position yourself to take advantage of the upturn, and you position yourself to be well preserved in a downturn.
There is a downturn going on now. I think you might find if there wasn't a downturn, The World Match Play might have continuing in Britain, and that's with a very successful management group running it. I think we are aware of it and the steps we've taken to really analyse our business and give us confidence for the future and we'll weather it.
SCOTT CROCKETT: Gentlemen, thank you very much. Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for your attendance.
End of FastScripts