SBD/January 20, 2014/Marketing and Sponsorship

British Open Sponsor HSBC "Uneasy" With Tournament's Male-Only Venues

HSBC has held talks with the R&A about the issue of male-only clubs
HSBC is a longtime sponsor of the British Open, but company Head of Sponsorship & Events Giles Morgan on Saturday said that his company is "uncomfortable being associated" with the tournament "being held at male-only clubs," according to Alistair Tait of GOLFWEEK. The R&A "stages the Open at nine venues, three of which do not admit women members." Morgan said, "The R&A are clear that it's a very uneasy position for the bank." Morgan added that he has "no problem with the R&A’s association with its member club, the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews." Morgan: “We are only involved in the tournament. We have no connection to the R&A as a club, and nor should we because it’s a private members club. But to the outside world, it looks like the same thing.” He said that HSBC has "held talks with the R&A about the issue, after the governing body started a consultation process following last year’s Open Championship at Muirfield" (GOLFWEEK.com, 1/18). Morgan said, "I don't want to be in a situation where we are potentially having to justify our sponsorship." Morgan said that he would "not be using the company's position as leverage or to 'put a gun'' to anyone's head, he simply feels the issue needs to be resolved -- even though he acknowledged his company has received few customer complaints" (ESPN.com, 1/18).
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