10 Things I Learned From Reading The PGA European Tour’s December 2014 Accounts

30th September 2015

With no fanfare and little media comment the PGA European Tour (‘the Tour’) recently submitted their 31st December 2014 Consolidated Audited Accounts to Companies House.

This Group of companies primarily looks after the interests of its members; professional golfers competing on the European Tour, the European Challenge Tour and the European Senior Tour which are all run by the business.

Additionally, every two years results are boosted by the Ryder Cup.  Ryder Cup Europe LLP is responsible for the organisation of the Ryder Cup matches that take place in Europe. It is a partnership between the PGA European Tour (60%), the PGA (20%) and the PGAs of Europe (20%). The match is run in conjunction with the PGA of America and other subsidiaries appear to benefit from away matches to a degree.

As a result of this the Tour budgets over a four year cycle, taking in a home and away Ryder Cups, with income understandably being greater when the match is contested in Europe.  The Tour makes profits in Ryder Cup years and absorbs losses in alternate years when the match isn’t played.  2014 marked the end of the last budgeting cycle with a new one commencing on 1st January 2015.

The PGA European Tour has 6 active trading subsidiaries and is party to 4 joint ventures.

Chairman David Williams was appointed on 1st January 2014 so this was his first year in charge.  It was also the last full year for George O’Grady CBE, the Chief Executive Officer.  Mr. O’Grady’s departure was announced in November 2014 with his replacement Keith Pelley only taking over in August 2015.

The PGA European Tour businesses are dependent upon a strong global interest in golf, television rights contracts, sponsorship contracts and the successful running of a number of key tournaments.

European Tour Logo

Flicking through the accounts, covering the 12 month period to 31st December 2014 I noted the following: –

1. Turnover was £231,382,079 (2013: £150,188,322).  This 54% increase was helped by the Ryder Cup match at Gleneagles.  In the last two Ryder Cup years, 2012 (Medinah) and 2010 (Celtic Manor) Turnover was ‘only’ £158,215,509 and £214,177,126 respectively so this year was a good jump.

2. Net Profit Before Taxation was £17,586,362 (2013: Loss £2,429,957).  This was almost certainly a record for the Tour.

3. Total Prize Funds rose to €155,100,000 (2013: €153,000,000).

4. Cash balances at the year end were £18,580,769 (2013: £15,611,210).  During the year the tour received Interest of £148,443 (2013: £145,981) on its surplus funds.

5. Members’ funds (Total Net Worth) increased to £24,127,523 (2013: £14,810,257).

6. On average the Tour employed 201 (2013: 167) staff and 12 (2103: 14) consultants during the year and had Net Staff Costs of £14,323,167 (2013: £12,961,031).  These Costs were higher due partly to the home Ryder Cup.

7. The highest paid Director, presumably Mr. O’Grady, received remuneration of £547,999 (2013: £524,699).  In addition £343,760 had been accrued by Mr. O’Grady under the Tour’s 4-Year Long-Term Incentive Plan.  This bonus will no doubt have been paid out earlier this year.

8. The Tour has to manage a number of trading risks.  These are primarily: –

a) Foreign currency risks as it trades across many continents and countries.  In 2014 a Net Foreign Exchange Loss of £127,597 was charged to the accounts (2103: £54,009).  Forward currency contracts are used when natural hedges are not fully available.

b) Credit risks where the tour relies on promoters, sponsors and other customers fulfilling contracts that may have been entered into long before events take place.  Payment track records and credit references are undertaken.  At the end of the 2014 trading year the Group had Trade Debtors of £17,596,253 (2013: £14,222,923) so these are not inconsiderable sums.

9. The Tour made charitable donations, mainly to bodies engaged in the development of golf, of £710,952 (2013: £622,102).

10. The Tour banks with Barclays and is audited by accountants Grant Thornton.

All in all an excellent set of results which suggests, even allowing for the hugely successful Gleneagles Ryder Cup, that the European Tour is fast becoming a very sizeable corporate entity.  In summary it is doing more than alright and is well placed to tackle the challenges ahead.


Copyright © 2015, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

Europe’s 2016 Ryder Cup Captain

13th October 2014

UPDATE – Darren Clarke was named 2016 European Ryder cup Captain on 20th February 2015.


David Howell was selected last week by the Tournament Players’ Committee to join the European Tour’s Chief Executive George O’Grady and the last three Past Captain’s Colin Montgomerie, José-María Olazábel, and Paul McGinley on the five man 2016 European Ryder Cup Captain selection panel.

This group will now consider Thomas Bjørn, Darren Clarke or Miguel Ángel Jiménez for the Hazeltine captaincy.  It is unlikely anyone else will be given much thought.

2016 RC Captains

Darren Clarke, Thomas Bjørn and Miguel Ángel Jiménez (clockwise)

Jiménez is clearly a very good golfer and his ability to remain competitive into his 50s is most impressive.  I also understand the muted calls for a mainland European captain given their contribution to the event over the last 25 years.  However, in the case of Miguel his English is simply not good enough to take on a role where both team and media communication is hugely important.  Olazábel struggled with this too and many players believe Europe were lucky to get away with a win at Medinah.  He is also perhaps too old now – he will probably be full time on the US Seniors Tour shortly and increasingly detached from the players he must select and manage.  Yes he will always be able to raise a smile with his cigars and exercise regimes but the Ryder Cup is now much bigger than that.

Bjørn and Clarke have more Ryder Cup experience and both are good communicators.  They have both played on many occasions and also been Assistant Captains.  I am sure they would both make good Captains.  My only concern with both of them is that they always strike me as having an ‘edge’, i.e. being one drink or mis-placed word away from saying something they should not or even throwing a punch.  You can see it in their eyes.  Clarke demonstrated this with his tactless comments on Gleneagles a few years ago.  Will they have the diplomacy to be able to cope with the glare of publicity that now comes with the Ryder Cup or if things get difficult during the run up to or worst still during the event.

I believe it is now inevitable that Clarke will be selected for Hazeltine in 2016.  I also wouldn’t be surprised if Bjørn gets the early nod, perhaps informally, for Le Golf National in Paris 2018.  The problem for Bjørn maybe that by the time 2018 comes around the calls for both Harrington and Westwood to be considered will have started.  I think there will be a few bumps along the way with Clarke (and Bjørn if he gets it) and I will be surprised if he / either gives us the smooth ride that McGinley has taken us on at Gleneagles.  It will certainly not be an easy task to follow McGinley who, to his credit, made the pressurised world of Ryder Cup captaincy look most straight-forward.

When the Howell appointment news broke I tweeted that it was a shame that he hadn’t been invited to be the Captain as in my opinion he would most probably make a better job of it than the three leading candidates.  I still believe this.  I have a lot of time for Mr. Howell.  I don’t know him but I have observed him at professional tournaments and more recently admired his Sky Sports assessments and commentaries.  He is clearly very well liked, calm, intelligent and knowledgeable.  In many ways very much in the Paul McGinley mould.

Another person who has the potential to be a future Ryder Cup Captain – but probably will fall victim to the limited number of opportunities – is Andrew Coltart.  He has recently done well with the Palmer Cup Team in amateur golf and like Howell talks well on Sky.  Having met him I can also vouch for the fact that he is a very different person from the dour Scotsman impression he gave when striding the fairways himself.  It may also be helpful that he is the brother-in-law of Lee Westwood.

I hope whoever is appointed in 2016 definitely uses Howell as an Assistant and also considers Coltart – no doubt alongside Padraig Harrington, who is a nailed on future Captain – in both 2016 and 2018.  They could do a lot worse than start with these three.


Copyright © 2014, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.