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Ryder Cup proving hard to sell, says official

The economic crisis has been a brutal lesson for sports event organisers, according to Europe’s Ryder Cup chief, who said this year’s showpiece in Wales would likely fail to reach sales targets for corporate hospitality.

other Updated: Jan 15, 2010 00:22 IST

The economic crisis has been a brutal lesson for sports event organisers, according to Europe’s Ryder Cup chief, who said this year’s showpiece in Wales would likely fail to reach sales targets for corporate hospitality.

The Ryder Cup, which pits the best golfers from the United States against their European counterparts every two years, has been a big draw for blue-chip companies and their lavish hospitality budgets but the financial climate means prising money away from businesses, fans and sponsors has got a lot harder.

“I don’t think anything is recession-proof,” Richard Hills, Europe’s Ryder Cup director, said late on Wednesday, while stressing that the event itself was firmly on track.

“I think the last two years have been a vicious learning curve of how things can change. Things do change: timings of when people will commit, whether it be to sponsorship, whether it be to hospitality or to buying a ticket, that pattern has changed.

“That’s something that all sports are learning to live with. We talk to our colleagues in tennis, in cricket, in soccer and that thread has been common throughout, when people are going to make that commitment.

“We have to learn to live with that, we have to do our budgets accordingly, we have to do our cash flow accordingly. We’re certainly not recession-proof. We’d be pompous to think we were. We have to work that extra bit harder to get the results we need.”

Those comments came a few days after Premier League soccer club Manchester United revealed spending on their corporate hospitality packages was down too, and growth would remain challenging in the future. “We sympathise with that and we understand that,” Hills said. “It is a changed world.”