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July 13, 2013
SCOTT CROCKETT:¬† Ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much for your attendance today.¬† It's a very special day for The European Tour and for everybody associated with the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open.
We have a very distinguished top table with us here this afternoon, led my Alex Salmond, MSP, the First Minister of Scotland.¬† On his right is Martin Gilbert, Chief Executive Officer of our tournament sponsors, Aberdeen Asset Management.¬† And closest to me here is my European Tour colleague, Peter Adams, who is our Championship Director this week.
Gentlemen, thank you all for your attendance today and to get matters underway it's my great pleasure to open up the floor to the First Minister of Scotland.
ALEX SALMOND:¬† We are delighted to say that The European Tour and Aberdeen Asset Management, along with the Scottish government, have reached an agreement on further sponsorship to safeguard, secure and continue and enhance the future of The Scottish Open through the years 2017; that's next year, and the three following years after that.
I'm also delighted to say that in that rota in the three further years between 2015 and 2017 one of the tournaments will be played here at Castle Stuart in these magnificent, astounding links, maybe 2016, but that will be set at a future date, but certainly one of these three years.
From a Scottish government perspective, this arrangement with Aberdeen Asset Management and the Tour has been an outstanding success.¬† This tournament is worth at least 5 million pounds to the Scottish economy.
I think it's worth even more than that to the Highlands economy, because it demonstrates, as has been demonstrated over the past few years that major international sporting events can be held with outstanding success in the Highlands of Scotland there is a great benefit to Scottish golf as a whole.
Those of you who were here on Wednesday will have seen the 500 young club golfers enthusiastically playing with professional golfers, their heros, and getting great encouragement from that; a pinnacle for a club golf system.¬† It also has direct economic benefits beyond the spending and the tournament itself.¬† We can attribute directly some 650 jobs have been announced for this area, the meetings that were held here at last year's tournaments.
This has been a sponsorship of outstanding success.¬† We are grateful to have partners in the European Tour for all their cooperation and help they give us in the sponsorship programs of golf, and we are particularly grateful for Aberdeen Asset Management's outstanding sponsorship of the game of golf in Scotland, not just in this championship, but also the Scottish amateur team and individual players all sponsored by Aberdeen Asset Management.
So we're having a fantastic week.¬† With five Open Champions and six Major Champions in the field, looks like things are set fair for an outstanding weekend.¬† And I'm delighted to say that we'll have many more over the next years through 2017.
SCOTT CROCKETT:¬† First Minister, it's a very special day for Aberdeen Asset Management, and it's also a very special day for Martin Gilbert; because at the risk of embarrassing him, it's actually his birthday today.¬† I don't wish to do a chorus of happy birthday, but perhaps a round of applause (applause).
I'll leave it up to you to decide to tell them about your age.
MARTIN GILBERT:¬† Still feel 30.¬† As you know it's very unlucky to be born on the 13th.
I'm just following on the First Minister's remarks.¬† Obviously from an Aberdeen Asset Management perspective, we are delighted to be continuing this sponsorship through 2017.¬† It goes without saying that the tournament and the coverage generated both here and the U.K. and the rest of the world, and especially the U.S., does a huge amount to raise awareness of our name‑brand throughout the world.
I think I've already said to you before, as a business, we are firm believers in investing for the long‑term, and it's a tried and tested formula that we have used, investing more than 200 billion of our clients' money around the world and we are proud to mirror that strategy, that culture that we have of investing long‑term with our sponsorship of this prestigious Scottish golf tournament.
That's all I want to say, thank you.
SCOTT CROCKETT:¬† Thank you very much, Martin.
Before we move into the question‑and‑answer session, I'd like to ask our Championship Director, Peter Adams, to say a few words on behalf of The European Tour.
PETER ADAMS:¬† Just a few words; George O'Grady would have liked to have been here today and unfortunately he can't be, but he will be here tomorrow.
On behalf of The European Tour, I think this is really excellent news, not only for The European Tour, but of course, importantly, for the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open.¬† I'd like to thank the First Minister and Martin Gilbert for their commitment and their belief in this golf tournament.
I think the fact that this commitment and this agreement has been reached, fully one year before the conclusion of the existing arrangement, I think just further demonstrates the faith and the belief in this event.
And I think a factor in that has been the strength of the relationship between the three par ties.¬† I think in a short time, we have become very well aligned in our strategy for the tournament, the strategy to rotate the tournament around high‑class venues around the country, and also the strategy to increase the prize fund of The Scottish Open, maintaining what is a leading position amongst European Tour events.
And I think as George actually said in his press release and his quote in the press release, I think it's fair to say that The Scottish Open is in very good hands.
Turning to Castle Stuart, this is obviously the third year of our three‑year relationship with Castle Stuart, which I think has been a positive in almost every respect.¬† I think the course has been presented in magnificent condition every year, and we have also been welcomed and looked after very well by the Highland community and the Highland Council and many of the corporate supporters in the Highlands who have become sponsors of this tournament.
So we very much look forward to returning to Castle Stuart for one year in the three‑year agreement, the three years of the new term.
So thank you very much, and back to you, Scott.
SCOTT CROCKETT:¬† Thank you, Peter.¬† Thank you, all, gentlemen.
Q.¬† Is there an indication that you don't have the two other courses signed up for the rotational period, that you're only mentioning Castle Stuart at this announcement?
PETER ADAMS:¬† I think we are actually in a good position because we have time on our side, and we are in a position where we can go and look at other courses that could be prospective venues for The Scottish Open.¬† I think it's advantageous to us that we can also talk to the players.
So I think we are in a position where we can use that time wisely and then when we are ready to actually announce the new venues, then obviously we will do so.
Q.¬† I imagine you'll want to announce the new venues, quickly, so that we will know exactly where we are going.
PETER ADAMS:¬† Well, I think that we have got a year before we play at Royal Aberdeen next year, so it's actually going to be two years before we would potentially go to a new venue, so as I say, I think time is on our side.
Q.¬† Phil is talking about two venues but is that necessarily the case?¬† Does that mean Royal Aberdeen is definitely one year, or could it be more than one year?
PETER ADAMS:¬† I don't think we've ruled anything in or anything out at the moment.¬† I think we would see, obviously the tournament is going to come to Castle Stuart for the one year, and I think there is a will to actually move the tournament around geographically, but the decision hasn't been reached yet.
MARTIN GILBERT:¬† I think you can take it that I think it would be only for the one‑year period.
First Minister, what do you think?¬† I think we wanted to look at the east of Scotland and the west of Scotland, as well, so that the golfing public of Scotland can really see this magnificent tournament.
ALEX SALMOND:¬† The four years ago, clearly Royal Aberdeen next year, coming back 20 Castle Stuart probably in 2016, not definite which year but probably 2016.¬† And in fairness to all parts of Scotland, the many fantastic links course on the East Coast and the West Coast of Scotland, there won't, Phil, be any difficulty; in fact, there will be many, many potential sutures to be that‑‑ to be the location, so there will be no shortage of candidates because there's no shortage of outstanding links courses.
Just as Castle Stuart as has proven over the last few years, these venues can provide outstanding platforms for golf.¬† We are obviously delighted from a golfers point of view with the great coverage from SKY Television and European Tour and their international partners.
Remember, this is the first European Tour event in history, apart from The Open Championship itself, which is being covered on American network television, as it will be on NBC today and tomorrow.¬† And frankly, when we look outside and see the stunning weather and the stunning surroundings, our friends in America will be tuning in to some out standing golf this afternoon and Scotland will be projected exactly as we wish it to be.
But there will be many outstanding links courses in Scotland and many of these would just love to stage a tournament as prestigious as The Scottish Open.
Q.¬† You're saying it will always be at a links course, The Scottish Open, and exactly the problem regarding the championship rota courses‑‑
ALEX SALMOND:¬† Well, it's a very good question.¬† I think the Tour, really, decides these matters, and I think they are absolutely correct to indicate that the vast majority of the players welcome the opportunity to play links golf a week before The Open Championship.¬† This is a prize time in the schedule of events.
So I think you can definitely say that it will be on a Scottish links course and it will be the week before The Open Championship, and these two things tie together.
In terms of, we wouldn't rule anything out as far as the venues are concerned.¬† But as Martin has indicated, with Aberdeen next year, Castle Stuart being one of the rota, the rightfully deserved two venues will be some of the great courses in eastern, western or central Scotland.
Other than that, we'll leave the committee that's been setup by the Tour and VisitScotland and Aberdeen Asset Management.¬† It's going to be a great committee to be on; I would volunteer to be on if I were you.¬† It's going to be touring some of the greatest courses in Scotland playing golf and making a report.¬† I understand that Martin is leading this committee personally.
MARTIN GILBERT:¬† Chairing it.
ALEX SALMOND:¬† Leadership on his birthday.¬† (Laughter).
Q.¬† I'm just wondering, are you a little bit uneasy about going to Royal Aberdeen, which is a male‑only course next year?
ALEX SALMOND:¬† No, it's not male‑only.¬† As I indicated a couple weeks back, I advised that I would be delighted if Muirfield decided to set up the honourable company of Edinburgh lady golfers and have playing rights to the course, and of course the ladies of Aberdeen would have playing rights at Royal Aberdeen as you probably know.
If you want to organise, in my view, to have male and female courses, but have playing rights over the course, then to me, that's fine.¬† That's peoples' decision.¬† That's not what I object to.
What I object to is where people can't be members of the course.¬† Many other courses in Scotland‑‑ that's their choice, but it's a question of being able to play the course, to be a member of the course, and that you can do at Royal Aberdeen.
Q.¬† How would you feel theoretically about The Scottish Open being held at Donald Trump's golf course?
ALEX SALMOND:¬† Well, not ruling anything out.¬† As Martin said, Royal Aberdeen next year and we are coming back to Castle Stuart.¬† And I think in fairness to all areas of Scotland, the likelihood is that the other two courses will be in east central and west central Scotland, some of the great links courses there.
Q.¬† Is the Scottish government's portion of the funding for the tournament going to continue to come from the assets seized from organised crime?
ALEX SALMOND:¬† Well, you're very right to indicate that the pay back in the community has been a valuable source of funds, and we just want to express our gratitude to organised criminals everywhere for this (laughter).
The Proceeds for Crime initiative has provided not just support for golf and for the football and other sporting events; and I think the principal of taking assets from people who have broke especially the law and recycling it back into the community to support good projects which do great things for people is an outstanding principle that's been introduced and very, very heavily supported.
So I hope it's helped, given the continuation of sponsorship, & and the Lord Advocate and the Assistant General get up to the mark and told them to get ahead with these prosecutions as quickly as possible to secure the future of this great tournament and other fine causes that the Proceeds of Crime support.
Also take contributions from the press corps, proceeds are not limited.
SCOTT CROCKETT:¬† That may be a slightly lesser fund.¬† (Laughter).
Q.¬† Will the place of The Scottish Open in the European Tour schedule be kept in the week before The Open championship the next four years?
PETER ADAMS:¬† Yes, it will.
ALEX SALMOND:¬† And that's a very prized place.
Q.¬† Can I ask how closely you'll consult with the players regarding the courses you choose, given the criticism that Graeme McDowell, in particular, had about Castle Stuart?
PETER ADAMS:¬† Well, I think you've seen over the course of this week that all the players have different views, and Graeme's views are only his views.¬† And I think we will consult quite widely with the players.¬† I think it's right that we take the opportunity of time that we have got in hand to do that.
ALEX SALMOND:¬† And as you can see we consulted them on Royal Aberdeen, I think he did say thathe welcomed the move to Royal Aberdeen.
MARTIN GILBERT: ¬†To be fair to Graeme, I think he regrets his remarks, and he got in touch with us and said he regretted making them, and the novel excuse, and that they were taken out of context, you know how it is in press terms.
ALEX SALMOND:¬† But I had the great privilege on Wednesday of a hole‑by‑hole commentary by Phil Mickelson as he explained to me, some things I must admit wouldn't have occurred to me because I'm never in the positions that he was in.¬† But it was explained to me just how the various shots had to be crafted on various holes at Castle Stuart, and that was a great privilege to have that understanding.¬† So obviously he takes the view that this is outstanding preparation.
I don't believe in coincidences, and two years ago, Darren Clarke played at Castle Stuart; Ernie Els played last year at Castle Stuart and then won The Open; and if one in the outstanding field that we have this year goes on to win next week and if you get three out of three playing Castle Stuart and then winning The Open Championship, then I think that will set it in golfing‑‑ if you want to win The Open, you'd better play The Scottish Open, an outstanding links course, the week before The Open Championship.
Q.¬† First Minister, we've already talked about Muirfield and no women, and you mentioned 500 young pub golfers here this week and Muirfield has no junior membership, either.
ALEX SALMOND:¬† Well, we've got a club in the hand of just about every 9‑year‑old in Scotland.¬† I played in Fortrose this morning and for those of you ‑‑ I know some of you were, because I saw you hitting the ball all over the links this morning, certain members of this press corps, I shall guard their anonymity.
But one of the things as you would have noticed as you went down Fortrose this morning is the club golf tees, which are an outstanding example of one of the great design courses of Scotland, which embraces golf as it should be played in every sense of that course including the club golf tees on all the holes and the encouragement of the young members.
As we put a club in the hand of every nine‑year‑old, every club in Scotland should be embracing this, because that is the future as we know because of recession, because of other difficult times, many clubs are struggling for members at the present moment.
And the ones that are doing best are the ones that have embraced the club golf concept and it won't just be best for the next few years, when they get people into the game, they will be the clubs that will be best over the next 20, 30, 40 years.¬† I hope every golf club in Scotland avails itself of the opportunity.
I remember, Catriona Matthew a year or so back, and I think her son's first name is Martin, he said to her at North Berwick, in terms of the club golfers playing at North Berwick‑‑ and I find the clubs which are embracing the concept; an example North Berwick was teaming with children in terms of the club golfers playing at North Berwick.¬† And I find the clubs which are embracing the concept are an example to every club in Scotland and I hope every club in Scotland will follow that example.
Q.¬† Muirfield is not embracing that concept and its in the public eye and Fortrose and North Berwick aren't, surely can't be right.
ALEX SALMOND:¬† Disagree with you.¬† Phil Mickelson told me North Berwick was the first course he played as an amateur in 1992 before he went on to Muirfield.
Look, I said and I've got to say, I hope clubs follow that lead, and many, many clubs are, and these are the clubs which should be congratulated for doing that.¬† We want to see golf as an Open, accessible game, open to all, male, female, young, middle‑aged, old, geriatric, infants, every single‑‑ even journalists.
We want to see golf as a game that's accessible to all and that's where the club golf program is leading.¬† We are delighted that our partners in the Scottish Open accept and agree with that concept and the Tour have been hugely cooperative in their support of club golf.
Q.¬† I think it's fair to say that Ireland and Wales after The Ryder Cup was staged in those country, it seems the tournament level was not sustained.¬† Does this send a positive message that you want the tournament scene to remain vibrant in Scotland?
ALEX SALMOND:¬† Yes, it does, and this announcement I think indicates that it's going to be exactly that.
We are now, thanks to this tournament, we are involved in the other great tournaments that take place in Scotland, Dunhill, Johnnie Walker, and we are going to the Women's Open Championship at St. Andrews in a couple weeks' time.
It will be very well provided for great events in Scotland, and we intend to continue that, because the golfing public in Scotland is showing by the turnout over this week that they have got an appetite to see top‑quality golf in the Home of Golf.
And of course, the whole basis of the club golf program is to make sure that we are not just the home and in the history of golf, but we are the future of golf, as well.¬† So it's a case of continuing forward.¬† I suppose that often things work out better than you expect.¬† When you think back to all these years ago when Scotland missed out on the early Ryder Cup to Wales, there was disappointment about that, but nonetheless, Gleneagles was picked for the next Ryder Cup in Europe.
Actually, that worked out extremely well, because it gave us more time to plan and to make sure that every single full advantage was taken of that.¬† And I think a number of things, and not just the sponsorship of that tournament and not just the club golf, but the whole promotion and advertising that's gone around golf from VisitScotland to the present moment‑‑ you'll like the new advert, which I think is an absolute classic.
So it's given us more time to think through, and of course we now know for the first time, we've had a comprehensive economic study of the golf impact in Scotland, and the answer is 12 million Pounds Sterling, and that is a huge annual impact of this wonderful game which we invested, and now it's responsible for sustaining tens of thousands of jobs, as well as providing enjoyment for millions of people.
Q.¬† You're staying away from Muirfield next week because of their policy of no women members; you're at Royal St. George's in 2011, a club that has the exact same policy.¬† Why were you at Royal St. George's in 2011 and not go to Muirfield next week?
ALEX SALMOND:¬† Well, I didn't know actually Royal St. George's had that policy and actually learned of the controversy of the day I was there, and I didn't realise that was the case.
Q.¬† But you've been speaking about this issue for quite a number of years and your feelings have been known for five, six, seven years, and you didn't know that Royal St. George's didn't allow any women members?
ALEX SALMOND:¬† That's correct.
Q.¬† That's a strange one.
ALEX SALMOND:¬† Well, reading your article incidentally‑‑ I just didn't know.¬† Maybe if you'd asked me before you wrote the article I could tell you that.¬† I could list the clubs in Scotland that have that policy but I didn't know about Royal St. George's.
Maybe I don't have the same knowledge of clubs outside Scotland as I do about clubs inside Scotland, and that's because I'm First Minister.¬†
SCOTT CROCKETT:¬† Like to thank everybody for their attendance today.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports