It’s a full-fledged, undeniable Friday news dump, which is never encouraging. But the European Tour board found their replacement for the retiring George O’Grady in a Canadian known for orchestrating big TV deals.
Keith Pelley's biography is noticeably light on golf accomplishments, though that’s not always a bad thing. Particularly if he listens to the many golf-aficionados in the organization assembled by O'Grady and who, against most odds, are bringing the European Tour to the Gullane's and Royal County Down's of the world.
Charley Lemay at Golf Magic has the story and the image from a Warby Parker ad. Or is it Lens Crafters?
For Immediate Release:
Keith Pelley unveiled as new Chief Executive of The European Tour
The Board of the PGA European Tour is pleased to announce the appointment of Keith Pelley as its new Chief Executive Officer, effective this summer. This follows the announcement in November 2014 that George O’Grady would be stepping down from the role.
Keith has enjoyed an extensive and highly successful career in the worlds of sport and media. He is currently President of Rogers Media, a media conglomerate in Canada, with responsibility for all lines of the media business, including 51 radio stations, 56 publications, 12 national TV stations plus 42 local stations, 300 digital properties as well as the Toronto Blue Jays, Canada’s only Major League Baseball team.
While at Rogers, Keith helped orchestrate the largest sports rights deal in Canadian history, the first of its kind worldwide, with the acquisition of a $5.2 billion National Hockey League rights deal for 12 years to include all media platforms.
Prior to this, Keith was President of Canada’s Olympic Broadcast Media Consortium where he created and led the media consortium for all broadcast rights holders for the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games, with responsibility for all production, programming, marketing, sales and sponsorship in the run up to and during the Games. Earlier in his career he was CEO of the Canadian Football League’s Toronto Argonauts, during which the team won the championship title in his first year of leadership.
Keith has a deep understanding of the professional athlete, having worked with them for over 30 years across several major sports including the National Football League, National Hockey League, Major League Baseball and the Canadian Football League.
This, combined with his extensive experience in rights management and negotiations; sponsorship creation; television production; marketing; communications; brand development and event management, made Keith the unanimous choice of the Board’s Nominations Committee.
David Williams, Chairman of The European Tour commented: “I am delighted to welcome Keith Pelley to The European Tour as our new Chief Executive. Keith’s proven track record, extensive experience and outstanding leadership skills in both sport and media will be invaluable as we continue to further develop our strategy.
“Throughout the interview process, it was clear that Keith has an unwavering passion for golf as well as a strong grasp of the challenges and opportunities facing not only The European Tour, but the wider game of golf as a whole. He knows the game, respects its history and I have no doubt he will bring an innovative approach to the development of The European Tour on the global stage.
“On behalf of the Board I would again like to thank George O'Grady for his extraordinary contribution to The European Tour and professional golf over the last 40 years and we are delighted that he will undertake the role of President of International Relations, ensuring The European Tour will continue to benefit from his knowledge and experience.”
Keith Pelley said: “I am very honoured to be joining The European Tour as its new CEO at an exciting stage in its development. The Tour already has a highly regarded reputation and I look forward to building on this using my previous experience in both media and sports to ensure it remains at forefront of the game across the globe.
“Throughout my career in North America, it has been a privilege to work with the best sports organisations, athletes, and media assets. I am excited to build on these experiences on the international stage.”
George O’Grady, who will continue in the role of Chief Executive until Keith takes office officially, said: “I look forward to welcoming Keith to The European Tour and ensuring a smooth transition as I continue to develop my new role. I am certain that Keith will bring a fresh and business-focused perspective to the Tour.”
Thomas Bjørn, Chairman of The European Tour’s Tournament Committee said: “On behalf of all the players on The European Tour, I am delighted to welcome Keith Pelley as our new Chief Executive. Having spoken to him at length, I know the passion and commitment he will bring to the role as the Tour moves forward. You only need to look at what he has achieved in sports and business to date to see that his record speaks for itself.
“I would also like to place on record how impressed I have been with the process put in place by the Board of The European Tour to select our new Chief Executive. The Nominations Committee, led by chair David Jones, and consisting of David Williams, Damon Buffini, Chris Hanell and Robert Lee, handled the process in a professional and exemplary fashion and shows precisely the trust the players have in the Board.”
**It sounds like this was a bit of a surprise, as the wired-in Guardian correspondent Ewan Murray could only offer this on the Friday afternoon announcement:
Pelley will be at the forefront of what appears to be a new era for the European Tour, which will include more focus on fresh commercial territory and, it is hoped, an innovative approach to certain tournaments. David Williams, the Tour’s chairman who has extensive experience in business outside of sport, is viewed by many as the catalyst for such change.