Asian players unconvinced over European Tour merger

Asian Tour members are yet to give the green light to the proposed merger with the European Tour and will hold further meetings.

World no. 32 Thongchai Jaidee said the players had held a meeting at the Macau Open last month after the proposed creation of a mega-tour straddling Europe and Asia.   -  Getty Images (File Photo)

Asian Tour members are yet to give the green light to the proposed merger with the European Tour and will hold further meetings, senior players told AFP Wednesday. Asian Tour CEO Mike Kerr told AFP last week that the players' fears had been addressed and concerns largely allayed. "We are going to partner together. We are merging the membership. We are merging the businesses," Kerr said.

But two of Asia's leading players, though broadly in favour, said it wasn't a done deal yet and players needed more details before they could vote. Thailand's Thongchai Jaidee said the players had held a meeting at the Macau Open last month after the proposed creation of a mega-tour straddling Europe and Asia.

"The main thing for me is that Asian players have a chance to improve in the future," the Thai world number 32 told during practice for Thursday's BMW Masters at Lake Malaren in Shanghai.

"For me it's fine. Yes there was a meeting at the Macau Open of the players where we had a lot of talking. A lot people are thinking different things that's why we have to take more time and get more information. The players haven't voted on it yet."

50-50 split

World number 40 Kiradech Aphibarnrat said the players had been split at the Macau meeting, but were now slowly coming round to accepting the deal. "In Macau the players didn't know the information about (the merger) so I can say 50 percent of the Asian players on the tour were a little bit against," Kiradech said, while confirming that Kerr did address some of the issues. "Finally when we were told what (the Asian Tour) were going to do we believed it."

However Thongchai said that players would still need more convincing. "We are waiting still for our concerns to be addressed," said the 45-year-old, one of the elder statesmen of the Asian and European Tours.

"We are still waiting for the next meeting to confirm or not. There will be one more meeting, maybe in Thailand (next month) before we make our decision."

Kiradech said so long as opportunities existed for young Asian players, he would be in favour. "I have been thinking over and over to the kid that's starting out, like where I was when I started," said the burly world number 40.

"I started from the Asian Tour, from small events I played full field, then I won co-sanctioned events and got to where I am. If (the merger) happens and all the kids can continue to play on the tour then I think it's the right way to make young stars."

Some players have been reported as being unhappy with the way that Kerr has negotiated with the European Tour. Kiradech is not one of them. "Some players are not happy with Mike Kerr. Some players are happy with Mike Kerr," said Kiradech. "For me he is the business man. He gets things done. He is a good guy."