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2009 Ryder Cup - Bidding process from English point of view
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Golf - North East primes bid

John Hopkins, The Times, 31 October 2000

The North East of England formally threw its hat into the ring yesterday to stage the 2009 Ryder Cup at Slaley Hall. Given the high profiles of the bids from Wales and Scotland, England’s bid has been somewhat overshadowed.

However, it has a unique feature: the support of the Prime Minister. “As a local MP, I am aware of the importance of sport to the people of the area,” Tony Blair wrote in a letter of support. “The organisation committee can be assured of tremendous local support.”

The bid also has the backing of Kate Hoey, the Minister for Sport, One NorthEast, the regional development agency, and Sport England. It includes plans for a local Centre for Excellence and will work with the Ryder Cup committee to set up a trust fund to promote sport in the area.

Blair backs bid to take Ryder Cup to North-East

Andy Farrell, The Independent, 31 October 2000

The Prime Minister, Tony Blair, albeit as a humble MP for Sedgefield, has backed Slaley Hall's bid to stage the Ryder Cup. The Northumberland course is at the centre of the English campaign to host the match in 2009, although, with Scotland and Wales also bidding, the head of the Her Majesty's Government should be on to a winner whatever.

Bids will be delivered to the headquarters of the Professional Golfers' Association at The Belfry this morning, with the winning country expected to be announced in January. Sweden are the other contenders.

The Prime Minister wrote: "As a local North-East MP, I am well aware of the importance of sport to the people of the area. Thousands participate in a wide variety of sports on a regular basis, and the organisation committee can be assured of tremendous local support should the competition come to the region. I eagerly look forward to joining the people at this great sporting occasion."

With England having staged all but two Ryder Cups on this side of the Atlantic, there is a feeling the matches should be spread around, but officials for the North-East's campaign have been encouraged that there has not been any attempt to dissuade them from bidding.

"It is true England has often been the preferred location in the past but we believe this is an event we wanted to bid for and will have enormous benefits for our region," said John Bridge, the chairman of One NorthEast, the Regional Development Agency for the area.

"We are in it to win and we can do it. It is a very strong bid." Slaley Hall is owned by DeVere, which will be hosting its fourth Ryder Cup at The Belfry next year, while One NorthEast has underwritten the campaign, which includes setting up a North-East Golfing Academy, to the tune of £24m with more to come from private enterprise. "Sport is the stuff of legend in our region," Bridge added. "We are competing with the very best in football and athletics, but not golf. Here we have the chance to change all that, to let every schoolchild sample the game."

Trevor Brooking, the chairman of Sport England, which is also behind the bid, added: "The long-term potential for development is massive. Golf has been criticised for being élitist and we want to make sure there are much closer links with schools and less privileged communities."

North-east bids for Ryder Cup

David Davies, The Guardian, 31 October 2000

English golfing organisations are prepared to put up £40m in an attempt to attract the 2009 Ryder Cup to the Slaley Hall course in Northumberland. The bid, announced by the chairman of Sport England Trevor Brooking yesterday, tops by more than £10m that tabled by Scotland last week but may not match the final bid, from Wales, which will be announced this morning.

Wales, who want to take the match to the Celtic Manor resort in Newport, Gwent - on which more than £200m has been spent - are expected to outbid Scotland and England, backed as they are by the billionaire Terry Matthews.

This is a man who works in the global telecoms industry and who sold his last company, Newbridge Networks, to the French group Alcatel, for £4.4bn earlier this year. He took a 3% stake in the company, to become its biggest individual stockholder, and the shares have almost doubled since the sale.

Matthews could probably outbid the other countries on the interest of his fortune alone. And make no mistake, he wants the Ryder Cup. Earlier this year he said: "They may as well give it to me in 2009 because I'm not going to go away."

Wales hand in their bid at the Belfry, headquarters of the Professional Golfers' Association, this morning and the three home countries, plus Sweden who are also bidding, will know the result at the end of January.

This is the first time the joint organisers of the Ryder Cup, the PGA - the club professionals' body - and the PGA European Tour, have organised a bidding process initially to determine which country will host the matches.

Six men, three from each body, form the Ryder Cup committee and they have set guidelines for bidders which include a minimum sum of £10m. The successful country will also signal its intentions to provide more golfing facilities at grass-roots level: more pay-for-play; more par-three courses; facilities for the disabled and for children.

The European tour element of the committee will be looking at what each country can offer in the way of tournaments, for these days the Ryder Cup is for sale. This was a process started in 1997 when Jaime Patino, the Bolivian millionaire, ensured that the event went to his own private course, Valderrama. It has continued, in Europe anyway, with Michael Smurfit, of the Jefferson Smurfit group, persuading the organisers that his luxury club and course, the K Club, outside Dublin, would be a suitable venue for 2005.

This was done, none too subtly, by taking over sponsorship of the European Open, playing it at the K Club and then throwing money at it until the European tour was convinced he meant business. In 1995 the prize fund was worth £650,000; this year it was £1.5m.

But Smurfit only followed the rules and Matthews is well-suited to following him. He has a three-course complex, plus luxurious hotel, at Celtic Manor and he is building a fourth course there, in conjunction with the PGA and with the Ryder Cup specifically in mind.

He also has a tournament, the Wales Open, on which to lavish the money needed nowadays and he is aware that he can further influence the authorities by holding Challenge Tour events and women's tour events in the years leading up to 2009.

Matthews wants to make the Wales Open the best tournament in Europe and to do that he will have at least to match the £2m prize fund offered later this week by the Volvo Masters. That would mean a total outlay of about £6m for one tournament and, as he is already firmly committed for the next five years, with a "soft" commitment for a further 15, the outlay is assuming enormous proportions.

There is another plus for Wales. Should their bid succeed, every pound they put into it will be matched by the European Union through the Objective One funding programme.

Once the country has been determined, the course will be chosen. England will have had it 12 times since the second world war, which should debar them. If, as expected, Wales win they will, of course, hold it at Celtic Manor.

Six Scotland clubs have declared their interest. Loch Lomond is disqualified on the grounds that one cannot get to it; neither St Andrews nor Carnoustie could provide the necessary multi-million-pound tournaments, and Muirfield, the best course by miles, is out by reason of it being a men-only club. That leaves Turnberry and Gleneagles to try to match Wales's financial clout, a formidable task.

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