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Martin Gilbert accepts non-executive director role with European Tour

Martin Gilbert.
Martin Gilbert.

Martin Gilbert has accepted a post as a non-executive director of the European Tour – and will maintain an avid interest in the game that has seen Aberdeen Standard Investments become Scotland’s blanket golf sponsor.

With Gilbert as founder and chief executive, the financial services firm has sponsored both men’s and women’s Scottish Opens for a decade, as well as individual sponsorship of some professional players and the national amateur teams.

The 65-year-old is retiring from ASI, but although the Ladies Scottish Open and next month’s Scottish Open will be his last in an official capacity, he is staying in the game.

“I’ll still go along to the events,” he said. “I’m on the board of the European Tour now, so that means I’ve still got a big involvement in golf and I’m involved with (the BMW PGA) Wentworth, which is another tournament that’s gone from strength to strength.

“It’s relatively new, but it’s sort of almost an extension of what we were doing at Aberdeen.

“The Tour is very interesting. It wasn’t a difficult appointment to accept. I think they are also keen to have people on the board who have a business background.”

Gilbert also used to be on the board at Aberdeen FC, but he is confident there will not be an issue at the Ladies Scottish Open this week with player discipline over coronavirus rules.

The Renaissance Club plays host to the Ladies Scottish Open.

“What happened there will definitely reinforce the message that we’re getting from the government,” he said. “Every day there’s another email about what you can and can’t do, reinforcing the message.

“I’m hoping the golfers will be more responsible than the footballers and I suspect they will. I really don’t foresee it being a problem and let’s hope not.”

Gilbert has been forceful in terms of supporting women’s golf, boosting the prize fund for the LSO closer to that of the men’s Open and generally supporting inclusivity in his time as a sponsor.

“I don’t think the problems have changed, even if golf has become more inclusive,” he said. “We have just got to make golf more accessible, even perception-wise. I once heard someone say one club rule is one rule too many at golf. There are just too many silly rules that put youngsters off playing.

“Also, a lot of people just want to play nine holes. I go to the Paul Lawrie Golf Centre in Aberdeen and it’s got a nine-hole par 3 course.

“It’s fantastic. You get around in an hour. Absolutely brilliant, and improves your golf as well.

“So I think it’s a mixture of that and just making it more accessible. Make it less time consuming and fewer rules.”

He is confident the two Scottish Opens will go from strength to strength, even if fans cannot attend either.

“Although we miss the spectators, it actually still makes huge business sense for us to continue with just the TV coverage,” he said.

“Anyone watching the PGA at the weekend would have seen that you don’t actually need the spectators to get the excitement that you saw there.

“This event is broadcast in over 100 countries around the world. So anyone that asks, why you do this, it’s purely that.

“This event will go all around the world live and be on live TV, as well, which is great.”

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