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Golf News - 2009/2010 Ryder Cup Bid
Problems that led to a failed Scottish Ryder Cup bid
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Green Scots lose to colour of money

Alan Campbell examines the many problems that led to a failed Scottish Ryder Cup bid, and says we must do better when trying to attract other sporting events in the future

Sunday Herald, 30 September 2001

So, in the end, compromise won. That Wales, with the award of the 2010 Ryder Cup, got the best of the deal and Scotland, with 2014, the worst will always rankle with some, but there are serious lessons to be absorbed if such a debacle is to be avoided again.

Into this category, obviously, fits the 2008 European Championships, and already there are signs that this Scottish campaign is not being run on the right lines. But more of that later.

As far as the Ryder Cup is concerned, there are two primary questions to be asked. How did Wales win it, and where did the Scottish bid go wrong?

There are those, led by the SNP, who believe the Scottish Parliament's education, culture and sport committee should investigate the entire bid process. The prospect of Ken Schofield, executive director of the European Tour, being hauled in front of the committee to explain his role in the affair is an enticing one, but the reality is that it is unlikely to happen.

What Schofield wanted, Schofield got, hence the inexplicable decision to award the 2010 event to a golf course which will have to be substantially rebuilt to meet Ryder Cup standards. But despite the understandable jubilation in Wales on Friday, it has been conveniently overlooked that Terry Matthews and Celtic Manor could yet have a hell of a fight on their hands to get the necessary new holes completed; environmentalists could block the development by appealing to the European Union, and, even if unsuccessful there, could mount protests and turn the whole issue into a green cause celebre.

The reason Wales won it, of course, is that Matthews - the principality's only billionaire - wanted it more than anybody else. He offered the biggest financial incentives to the European Tour, including the carrot of a £12m contract to redesign Celtic Manor's Wentwood Hills course to a Tour subsidiary company.

The Sunday Herald has also established, although there is no suggestion of a link, that a business colleague of Matthews, Denis O'Brien, paid £35m this month to acquire another company in which the European Tour has a 19 % stake - PGA European Tour Courses Ltd.

Against the background of an uncompleted course at Celtic Manor and the award of the design contract, there are plenty of grounds for the Scottish complaint that the bid process was not an open and transparent one, as had been frequently promised.

The decision went, simply, to the highest bidder but that would have come as no surprise to anybody who studied the destinations of the 1997 and 2005 (now 2006) events.

In which regard, the naivete of most of those behind the Scottish bid was a wonder to behold. Granted, they were dealing with a bumbling Ryder Cup committee whose ineptitude and constant changing of the goalposts was inexcusable, but the mantra of 'We've got the best courses' caused Scotland's critical facilities to be suspended from the outset. Even when Matthews was holding all the aces, those closest to the Scottish bid were displaying an astonishing incapacity to come to terms with the nature of the contest.

As long ago as last December, this paper warned that the Scottish bid was guilty of complacency. This, and other, danger signals were ignored. Journalists who could have provided intelligence from the European Tour and the PGA were neither consulted nor courted; one, who covers golf for two of the biggest-selling tabloids in Scotland, felt so excluded from the bid process that he was eventually moved to complain.

Questions, then, have to be asked about the award of the marketing contract for the bid. The Sunday Herald understands that a company far better qualified than most wasn't even placed on the tender list. Assuming that the education, culture and sport committee will make at least some inquiries into the Scottish bid, this is one aspect which will require answers and recommendations. There is some puzzlement, too, over the decision to pull in an international public relations company, Hill and Knowlton, earlier this year. What was their brief, how much did they cost, and what did they achieve?

But if the Scottish bid was fuzzy and ill-focused - why was Carnoustie, a complete no-hoper, allowed to stay part of the process? - it was positively dynamic compared with the shambles that was the Ryder Cup committee.

With estimates that winning the 2010 event could be worth £200m to the winning country (although for the last year figures have been plucked out of the air with ever- increasing absurdity), it is extra ordinary that such a momentous decision could be placed in the hands of such an unqualified body of men.

The communication of even basic information, such as when the committee was next due to meet, was usually well beyond the wit of the six men involved - although to be fair to them, it was usually because they didn't have a clue themselves.

At least, as a consequence of this dreadful and tedious experience, the European Tour have wrested control of the decision-making process and will now be managing partners. If it means future Ryder Cup bid processes being decided in a professional manner, so much the better.

Although the mood in Scotland on Friday morning was foul, with both the Scottish Executive and the main private backers, the Bank of Scotland, incandescent at the impending award of 2010 to Celtic Manor and its yet-to-be-completed course, the consolation prize of 2014 is starting to mellow minds.

The Conservatives' sports spokesman, Brian Monteith, who two days ago was calling on the executive to consider legal action to recover the public money spent on the bid, had calmed down after overnight consideration. The 'stench' of Friday had given way to reflection that a line should be drawn under the episode and every effort made to ensure 2014 was a success.

'We've got to focus on that now,' he said. 'Friday was a time for questioning the whole bidding process, but now we need to move on. One thing we have to learn for the future is that we have to be sharper about what's going on behind the scenes. Our bid had a naivety which we've got to lose.'

Despite this assessment, the SNP are to proceed with their demand for an inquiry by the education, culture and sports committee which, if granted, would subject to scrutiny all the bid documents. There would also be pressure, although not compulsion, for key figures such as Schofield and PGA chief executive Sandy Jones, another Scot, to give evidence.

Irene McGugan, the party's sports spokeswoman, said: 'We feel that if there was a rigorous look at all aspects of the bidding process we would learn why Wales won, and why Scotland lost.

'We need to find out if the Scottish bid is as robust as it could have been, or did we place too much emphasis on the quality of our courses? I don't see why people should be afraid of an inquiry because lots of people are on the record saying they have nothing to hide and the whole process was above board.'

The Ryder Cup bid has been a sharp learning curve for the Scottish Executive, but it is to be hoped the experience does not prevent further attempts to land prestigious international sporting events.

The appointment of a designated Minister of Sport would be a start, but the most important realisation - as England discovered during the bidding process for the 2006 World Cup - is that it takes more than the best stadia or the best golf courses to win such events. Commercial and political considerations invariably hold sway.

If the lessons of the last year are not immediately applied, the Scottish Executive and the SFA can forget right now about 2008.

And among the first people they should be consulting for advice are Sir Terence Matthews and his advisers.


Profile: Ken Schofield
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The powerbroker who has so riled his home country

The executive director of the European Tour has just made one of the most crucial decisions of his 26-year career

Alan Campbell, Sunday Herald, 30 September 2001

TO those who know Ken Schofield well, his insistence that the 2010 Ryder Cup be awarded to Celtic Manor in Wales was entirely in character. Although he played his boyhood golf at Auchterarder, just along the road from Gleneagles, Schofield's loyalties these days are to the organisation he has run for 26 years.

'He's got an attitude like the Mafia,' says one observer who has known him for over two decades. 'You're either a friend of the European Tour, in which case you're a friend of Ken, or you're not, in which case he isn't going to like you.'

For all that he has presided over the growth and growth of the European Tour as its executive director for over a quarter of a century, the 55-year-old Schofield keeps a low profile. Respected, sometimes feared and often disliked in the domain he runs so efficiently, few outside golf's inner circles know much about the man who has so riled his home country.

The son of an army officer who settled in Scotland after the Second World War, Schofield was a keen footballer and golfer. At the age of 16 he left school and his sporting ambitions behind to work as a junior clerk in the Crieff branch of the bank which is now known as Lloyds TSB. Seven years later, he was in charge of the Dunblane branch, and it is one of his claims to fame that, at 23, he was the youngest bank manager in Scotland.

It was while working in the bank that Schofield first came to the notice of veteran Scottish golf writer Norman Mair. The two men had met at a golf tournament at Portmarnock in Ireland, but while impressed by the breadth of knowledge displayed by the avid young golf fan, Mair had forgotten about him when informed that Schofield had applied for a job with the Professional Golfers Association - and given his name as a referee.

Mair was happy to oblige and Schofield, who had seen the advertisement for the post in an August 1971 issue of Golf Illustrated magazine, was appointed. It must have been a highly risky change of career, especially for a young man who was already married to wife Evelyn with the birth of their first child pending, but it paid off handsomely.

Schofield, as it transpired, could not have made a better-timed switch. The British tournament professionals had just launched their own organisation, under the direction of John Jacobs, and when the latter stood down at the end of 1974, Schofield replaced him on January 1, 1975, as the first executive director of the autonomous European Tour.

Although Jacobs had prepared the ground, and remained a huge influence, Schofield's fortune and that of the European Tour have grown in tandem. When he took over, there were 17 tournaments with a total prize fund of £427,000. The players would play one event, go back to their club shops to sell Mars Bars and tees, then move on to the next event a couple of weeks later.

Contrast that with 2001, when the season started in Australia in January and continues through to the Volvo Masters, which is held in Spain in mid-November. Total prize money, including the world championship events which Schofield helped establish in association with the other international tours, stands at around £50m.

Throughout this time, which has seen the Tour move its headquarters from the Oval Cricket Ground to the Wentworth Estate in Surrey, one man has stood shoulder to shoulder with Schofield. Neil Coles, the former Ryder Cup player and one of the best ever British golfers, was one of the first professionals of his generation to realise that sport was a business. Today, he is chairman of the Tour's board of directors, and remains Schofield's closest ally.

In building up the Tour to its present position of strength, Schofield was quick to recognise the achievements of the (American) PGA Tour. A lot of his innovations have been copied from across the Atlantic, although he knows sheer scale of numbers help make the US version a dripping roast while the European Tour has to scrap much harder to attract sponsors and higher prize money.

In developing the Tour from an organisation employing fewer than 10 people to more than 100, Schofield has been aided by a number of factors. One of the most important was Europe's Ryder Cup win over the United States at the Belfry in 1985. As well as giving the contest some much needed equality, it also attracted some big sponsors to the Tour. These included Volvo, still the biggest commercial backer and supplier of courtesy cars to the players.

Then there was the emergence of the most exciting golfer of his day, Seve Ballesteros. Inspired by the brilliant Spaniard, other Europeans started winning Majors. Schofield now had a sellable product on his hands. His hard-headedness was also in evidence when the Tour's television contract was awarded to Sky, much to the chagrin of the terrestrial traditionalists.

A St Johnstone supporter who can reel off the most obscure scorelines from the lower echelons of Scottish football, Schofield has, at one time or another, fallen out with most of the Tour's stars. Having looked Ballesteros, Nick Faldo, Colin Montgomerie and Bernhard Langer in the eye without blinking, Schofield was unlikely to favour Scotland's Ryder Cup bid when there was a more lucrative alternative for his beloved organisation.

'Terry Matthews put a lot of money into Wales Open and it's now a 10-year deal with prize money going up all the time,' points out a Schofield-watcher. 'He's a seriously golden goose.'

Asked to describe the former bank manager's character, he replies: 'He's stubborn, and very mentally agile - a quick and decisive thinker who tends not to change his mind once it's made up. He's got a terrific memory and eye for detail.

'As well as that, Ken has an extremely quick temper, and a lot of people are wary of him. He's an extremely good and loyal friend, and an extremely bad enemy.

'It's extraordinary that he's lasted as long in the job as he has. He came out of nowhere, but the European Tour was very low key when he started.'

Although his efforts were appreciated by the older generation of tour professionals, Schofield found himself criticised in the 1990s by players who had no knowledge of the conditions which existed when he first started the job.

Last year he was also forced to submit the tour's accounts to an independent audit, but accountants Arthur Andersen came up with a largely clean bill of health.

With no intention of retiring, Schofield's job is considered safe for as long as Coles remains chairman. The executive director's relationship with his deputy, George O'Grady, is not always harmonious, but the two men tend to compliment each other.

Dealing with dissent in the ranks is one thing, but in manoeuvering the 2010 Ryder Cup to Wales Schofield risked a major skirmish with more formidable opponents. The Tour's executive director could yet found himself called to account by the Scottish Parliament, but the award of 2014 to Gleneagles was a masterstroke which has deflected most of the inevitable flak. It will be business as usual for Ken behind his desk at Wentworth tomorrow morning.


Main backers of Scottish bid furious - may withdraw ahead of 2014
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Ryder Cup Bid:

Bank of Scotland threaten to walk away as corporate backing for 2014 hangs in the balance

Mark McSherry and Douglas Fraser, Sunday Herald, 30 September 2001

Bank of Scotland is considering withdrawing as the main private sector backer of Scotland's Ryder Cup campaign because of the 'behaviour' of the European Tour and the 13-year wait Gleneagles now faces before it hosts the biggest event in golf.

The decision to award the 2010 Ryder Cup to the unfinished Celtic Manor course in Wales, leaving Scotland the right to host the 2014 event, has incensed Bank of Scotland chief Peter Burt, and senior figures within the company now say that its role as lead private sector sponsor 'is unclear and under review'.

Some went as far to say Scotland's biggest companies will now shun the sponsorship of all golf tournaments, making it difficult to put together a financial package at all for 2014. 'I don't think Scotland has a snowball's chance in hell of making it happen in 2014,' said one.

A Bank of Scotland source said that the company would meet First Minister Henry McLeish soon to try to thrash out how the current £21 million Scottish bid continues over this longer build-up period and what the financial implications are for those involved.

'It is fair to say our enthusiasm has been badly dented by the way things turned out -- cheque book golf,' said the source.

'We will have to have a serious think about what we do now. To justify our sponsorship of the Ryder Cup bid going forward is a very different issue.'

So far, the bank had undertaken to 'underwrite' £6m, but executives at Bank of Scotland, which recently merged with Halifax to form HBOS, say that their shareholders are unlikely to look favourably on such a financial commitment 13 years in advance.

'One of the problems at the moment is that we don't actually know what we would be sponsoring for Gleneagles in 2014,' said the source. 'What will be associated with it? What are the conditions attached?

'We had a process worked out leading up to 2009 or 2010, but to give that level of commitment for 13 years would verge on lunacy. You could say that our role as major private sector sponsor is unclear and under review.

'To get any commercial sponsor to project that far forward is asking an awful lot. What will the Scottish Executive be willing to put in over that period? Even the Olympics are not projected that far ahead.

'Frankly, the behaviour of some of the interested parties in this is not going to do anything to encourage major blue chip companies to sponsor golf in Scotland in the next few years.'

Bank executives fear the Ryder Cup Committee have underestimated the backlash that will now come from Scotland's biggest companies in the shape of a ban on big-time golf sponsorship.

'They do not realise what a big mistake they have made,' said another Bank source.

'The golf world will find it difficult to get major sponsors for any golf tournament in Scotland over the next 10 years. This Ryder Cup process has been extremely murky.

'What we decide to do could have a major influence on what other potential sponsors do. Most major sponsors will be having a serious think about any involvement in the sponsorship of golf in Scotland.'

The First Minister said the huge amount of public sector financial support that was pledged for the 2009 bid would remain in place for the 2014 event.

McLeish hoped that the private sector backing would also remain in place, saying: 'It is four years down the line but I would hope the private sector would see the benefits are there.'

Diageo, the global drinks and food company which owns Gleneagles, remained upbeat. Kathryn Partridge, the firm's spokeswoman, said she doubted if there would be a problem in putting together a financial package for 2014.

However, Diana Scott, communications director at Gleneagles, conceded: 'There will be a big financial process that needs to be formed, but it is early days. We will have to address this.

'We will be working on it at a given time. I'm sure sponsors will want to continue their involvement. We have the full backing of Diageo.'

Bank chief Burt, meanwhile, would not be drawn into the recriminations of the failed bid for the 2010 event, saying only: 'We are very disappointed. There was no question that any of the Scottish venues offered could have staged a Ryder Cup.

'It will be interesting to see if Celtic Manor is a course worthy of the Ryder Cup -- assuming it does get re-built,' he added.

Other executives in the company were less diplomatic. 'What is clear now is that the Ryder Cup is for sale,' said one.

'We are angry that they wasted all of our time by pretending that it was open to competition when in fact it was all stitched up from the beginning. What a waste of our time.

'They should just be honest and say the Ryder Cup goes to the highest bidder and forget about going around and looking at all the alternative courses as if they have a chance of actually winning.

'The Scottish Executive was given assurances it was not down to the cheque book and in the end it was in fact all down to the cheque book. I don't accept we should have offered any more.

'We have shareholders to answer to and the Scottish Executive has taxpayers to answer to. We all actually pushed the boat out on this one and I would not have been happy to see us offering any more.

'We are making no commitment at this stage for 2014. If the Ryder Cup thinks private sector firms will give such huge commitments 13 years in advance they better think again.

'Led by the Scottish Executive and Bank of Scotland, there was a package and a process in place leading up to 2009 and 2010, but as far as we are concerned that package does not apply for 2014. There is a lot that has to be discussed.'


Political fall-out
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SNP demand disclosure on failed Ryder Cup bid

Alan Campbell, Sunday Herald, 30 September 2001

The Scottish National Party is to press on with a motion demanding disclosure of all the 2010 Ryder Cup bid documents and an analysis of why Scotland had lost the tournament to Celtic Manor in Wales.

Irene McGugan, the party's shadow sports minister, said last night: 'We feel we need to have a rigorous look at all aspects of the bidding process - not only why Wales won, but why Scotland lost.

'I don't see why people should object to an inquiry. There are lots of people now on the record saying they have nothing to hide and the whole process was above board.'

The Scottish parliament's Education, Culture and Sport Committee, which has a Labour chair, will decide on Tuesday whether to go ahead with the inquiry. They could ask Ken Schofield, the executive director of the European Tour who pressed for the 2010 Ryder Cup to be awarded to Wales, to answer questions, but he would not be compelled to attend.

Elsewhere, the anger that was expressed when it was confirmed that Celtic Manor had been awarded the tournament despite having to rebuild the course to bring it up to Ryder Cup requirements, appears to be subsiding in the wake of the decision to award the 2014 event to Gleneagles.

The Conservative's sport spokesman, Brian Monteith, who on Friday had spoken of the 'stench' surrounding the Ryder Cup decision and called on the Scottish Executive to consider legal action to recover public money spent on the bid, said: 'Friday was a day for questioning the whole bid process. Now we have to draw a line under it and move on. The focus now should be on making 2014 a success.'

Despite the loss of face on Friday, the executive seems set to continue with their flagship policy of attracting prestigious international events to Scotland. First Minister Henry McLeish is backing the SFA's bid to bring the 2008 European Championships to this country.

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