The R&A leader, who was LIV Golf’s most vocal critic just a year ago, did not rule out on Wednesday that the British Open organizers could one day accept money from Saudi sovereign wealth funds.
R&A CEO Martin Slumbers said at Royal Liverpool: “The world of sport has changed dramatically over the past 12 months. It is impossible for The R&A and Golf to ignore social change on a global scale. It is.” , opening begins Thursday. “We will consider all the options we have and within all parameters.”
The wealth fund has recently exploded to become one of the sport’s most prominent backers, collectively donating billions of dollars through golf and football, sparking speculation about where it will go next. . The UK is at the center of the wealth fund’s ambitions, with the acquisition of Premier League football team Newcastle United in 2021.
The fund and its allies say the investment is aimed at boosting the Saudi economy, but partly because Saudi leaders are trying to use the sport to restore the country’s reputation for human rights abuses. We are faced with skepticism and concern that there is
Mr Slumbers said last year that he was “very happy to see golf grow globally”, but at the time LIV’s Saudi funding model “does not serve the sport in the long term” and “completely We are driven by money,” he complained. At the time, he declared human rights violations “abhorrent and unacceptable”.
On Wednesday, he appeared less frightened, despite placing limits on possible deals with wealth funds or anyone else, and insisting he was not interested in so-called presenting sponsorships in open competition. It looked like 151st visit to Japan. (Rolex is a major sponsor of next week’s Senior Open at Royal Portscall, Wales. Next month, the AIG Women’s Open will be held at Walton Heath, near London.)
But when asked directly about the wealth fund’s potential ‘partnership’ at a press conference, Slumbers said, “If I’m very open, we’re talking to a variety of potential sponsors. We will continue to talk now and in the future.”
The Slumbers’ acceptability reflects growing concerns among golf executives about the financial sustainability of the sport, which has recently seen prize money skyrocket. This year’s Open has $16.5 million in prize money, more than double what it was a decade ago. Slumbers said Wednesday that his prize money is growing much faster than he and other executives expected.
If the PGA Tour and LIV can end the arms race among the world’s top players, it could ease some of the pressure on men’s golf. The Tour, Wealth Fund and DP World Tour took steps towards this last month, announcing plans to consolidate their golf operations into a new for-profit company. The deal does not involve The R&A and may not be completed for several months.
Slumbers said the R&A, which works with the United States Golf Association to develop the sport’s rulebook, “absolutely welcomes the end of the turmoil in professional men’s competition.”
Donald J. Trump, one of the LIV’s most prolific backers, has repeatedly said the R&A is looking to bring the British Open back to Turnbury, one of Scotland’s most spectacular courses. He was less enthusiastic about partnering with the former president. Trump purchased the property in 2014, five years after its most recent opening.
“We will not return until we are confident that the focus will be on the championship, the players and the course itself, but we do not believe that is achievable under the current circumstances,” Slumbers said in Riot 2021. He spoke over the next few days. Houses of Parliament.
Despite this, Trump has since insisted the R&A is considering holding another Open at Turnberry. Slumbers nearly repeated his 2021 statement on Wednesday instead of acquiescing.
“We have answered very clearly,” he said.