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Open fans will be ‘held hostage’ at 2018 Carnoustie event, claims community council chairman

Padraig Harrington celebrates his 2007 win at Carnoustie
Padraig Harrington celebrates his 2007 win at Carnoustie

Carnoustie Community Council’s voice has been added to the growing chorus of opposition to the R&A’s controversial ‘no readmissions’ policy at next summer’s Open Championship in the Angus town.

The golf body’s policy of banning ticket holders from re-entering the course has led to concerns local businesses will miss out on the potentially valuable boost from the massive influx, with the community council now branding the move a “hammer blow” to the town, claiming golf fans will be “held hostage” at the event.

Community council chairman Arliss Rhind said: “This policy makes a mockery of any boasts that The Open will bring major financial and business opportunities to Carnoustie.

“How can businesses in town benefit if the R&A hold thousands of golf fans and visitors hostage within the confines of the Championship course all day, with no incentive or opportunity to spend a bit of time in the town itself?

“Only a few weeks ago, I attended an inaugural meeting organised by Angus Council to discuss the Open in July 2018, to examine the opportunities this could bring to Carnoustie. The meeting was also attended by leaders of the Carnoustie Links Committee and other interested bodies.

“Many varied suggestions and ideas were put forward as to how Carnoustie should prepare for the event.

“As Community Council chair, I was enthused by the idea that we as a council could lead efforts to brighten up the town, remove eyesores and organise daytime and evening events for the thousands of visitors.

“We heard at the meeting about plans for a campsite on the edge of town, and a park-and-ride bus service which could even stop in the High Street,” added Mr Rhind.

“There is a great community spirit in Carnoustie, highlighted by the support given to the Community Council to provide the Christmas lights and hold a highly successful Christmas Fayre in the town.

“The people of Carnoustie are ready to welcome visitors in July — but only if we ever see them.

“This ‘no re-admissions’ policy has come as a hammer blow, not only for our aspirations, but for all the businesses, restaurants and bars in the town,” he added.

“The excuse that the policy was taken to protect golf fans from ticket touts and unofficial operators is a spurious argument.

“I have personally attended numerous Open Championships and I have never encountered a ticket tout. What would be the point of them being there?

“As for unofficial operators outside the perimeter — another red herring.

“The R&A appear to want to hold golf fans captive and subject them to what I can only describe as exorbitant prices for refreshments and food and Open memorabillia.

“Despite this decision by the R&A, I can ensure the Carnoustie people that the community council will do whatever we can within these restrictions to make The Open 2018 a successful and memorable event for the town.

“To that end we will be keeping in touch with the Links Committee and talking to businesses throughout Carnoustie to explore all possibilities

“My main hope is that the R&A will think again and rescind this damaging decision..

A spokesman for The R&A said, “The Open is one of the world’s great sporting events and it will attract tens of thousands of fans to Carnoustie for the Championship.

“Television images of the course and the town will be broadcast to hundreds of millions of households around the world which will encourage many more tourists and golfers to visit the town to play this magnificent course in the years to come.

“The Open will generate tens of millions of pounds of economic benefit for the Carnoustie region with thousands of fans staying in local hotels and guest houses and visiting bars, restaurants and shops.

“We are working with Angus Council and a range of local bodies to help ensure the area benefits fully from hosting the Championship.

“As we have indicated previously, looking after the interests of our fans is of paramount importance to us and we are taking a series of steps to try to prevent anyone being disappointed by being misled into buying sub-standard, off-site hospitality packages.”

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