The decision follows an agreement reached between the PGA Board and the tour players, represented by golfers Nick Faldo, Jose Maria Olazabal, Bernard Langer and Severiano Ballesteros.
Tour professionals have become increasingly frustrated with the lack of transparency in the financial dealings of the PGA. They believe as a multimillion pound business it should not be veiled in secrecy.Questions have also been raised over the £50,000 profits made, despite having a television income in excess of £15m.
Deputy-director of Communications for the European PGA, Gordon Simpson, told AcccountancyAge.com: ‘The PGA will recommend five or six high-profile auditing firms, which the players will then vote on in a ballot cast as soon as possible in the new year, with an independent audit expected to be completed by March or May, at the latest.’
Mid-tier firm Grant Thornton currently audits the books of the European PGA, but the names of the candidates for the independent audit are not yet known and Simpson said the PGA legal team was in the process of drawing up the list.
However, the independent auditors will not be able to scrutinise every aspect of the Tour accounts as Faldo, Olazabal had hoped. The motion of full disclosure of the Tour’s accounts, income, expenditure and performance was defeated by 122 votes to 61.
Instead the PGA voted 139 to 53 in favour of an independent firm of auditors to examine all ‘non-confidential’ areas of the accounts.
Asked by AccountancyAge.com what the PGA meant by ‘non-confidential areas’ Simpson said off-limit areas would be such things as the details of television contracts, and similar type agreements.
He qualified this by saying: ‘The Tour has no problem disclosing information such as television revenues, but we will not reveal information about the value of such contracts as at present we have different agreements with a variety of networks including BBC, Sky and Canal Plus.’
In March the PGA will present an interim report, which will make the findings of the independent audit available to the players. Following this, a mandatory player meeting will be held in May during the Volvo Players Championship where all issues arising from the report can be raised with the tournament committee.
Commenting on the decision, Nick Faldo said the PGA had made a good start and added: ‘Now something will done about our request.’ Jose Maria Olazabal said: ‘Tour officials are now willing to be more clear and an audit will be done.’
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