Players ask for audit of European Tour's accounts

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The Independent Online

Jose Maria Olazabal yesterday denied there was an attempt to uncover any misconduct in asking for the accounts of the European Tour, this year worth £50m in prize money, to be independently audited.

Jose Maria Olazabal yesterday denied there was an attempt to uncover any misconduct in asking for the accounts of the European Tour, this year worth £50m in prize money, to be independently audited.

Olazabal, along with Nick Faldo, Seve Ballesteros and Bernhard Langer, signed a letter asking for the books to be opened. They then collected 59 signatures on a petition supporting the move at the Volvo Masters last week. "We are not trying to find anything special or whether there has been any misconduct," Olazabal explained. "We don't see any problems. I guess we want to know how the money is being spent. This is a big company now. We just don't have enough information to really make an assessment about how it is being run.

"Each year we see some figures but not the details. I think the time has come to ask these questions. We need to sit down and talk about it."

The Tour's executive, led by Ken Schofield, are effectively employed by the players to attract sponsors and provide tournaments. Last year in America, the Tour Players' Association was formed to raise similar issues with the US Tour's executive but it floundered without the support of the leading players.

A statement from the European Tour read: "We are not in possession of a petition from the players, but we can confirm a letter was received from Seve Ballesteros, Nick Faldo, Bernhard Langer and Jose Maria Olazabal requesting that the Tour's financial books be made available to an independent auditor."

It continued: "We responded to this request by seeking not only the identity of the independent auditor but also a suitable date for a meeting. We categorically deny that we requested additional signatories or that we gave any indication that we would deny reasonable access to the books."

Darren Clarke, the Order of Merit leader, has signed the petition. "I don't think they [Olazabal, et al] are saying any money has gone amiss, they just want to see what's going where," Clarke said.

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