Dubai Duty Free chief executive wishes to see prize money increase in coming years

Dubai Duty Free chief executive wishes to see prize money increase in coming years
Colm McLoughlin pictured with George O'Grady.

Dubai Duty Free chief executive Colm McLoughlin has underlined his company’s commitment as title sponsor to both the Irish Open and Derby by expressing his wish to see the prize money for both sporting events increase in the coming years.

Irishman McLoughlin, 76, helped develop the world’s first duty free operation, founded in 1951 at Shannon Airport and the Ballinasloe, Co. Galway native has been back in Co. Clare this week attending the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open, which the company he helped found out of Shannon in 1983 has been title sponsor of since 2015.

Dubai Duty Free extended its sponsorship deal with the European Tour in 2018 through to next year and has an option on the Irish Open for 2021 and 2022 and having seen the tournament’s prize fund increase from €2 million in 2014 to its current level of €7 million as part of the Rolex Series of tournaments on the Tour, McLoughlin said he would have no problem increasing the prize money to €10m.

“Part of our condition (of title sponsorship) when we tried it at the beginning was if this Rolex Series came about that we would be part of it, and I’m very happy about that,” Mcloughlin said.

This bit of it is none of my business but I would see the prize fund for the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open going up but that depends a lot on the discussions ongoing at the moment between the European Tour and Rolex. The Rolex chairman is here this week and they’re having chats.

Asked if his company would be happy to stay on board if the Irish Open remained a Rolex Series event and the prize fund increased to $10m, McLoughlin replied: “Yes, would be the answer.

“We spend 2.5 per cent of our top line on promotions, we own two tennis tournaments, won on the WTA Tour and the ATP and the media value of that for Dubai last year was assessed as $980m. Our ambition for the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open golf is that it gets up near that figure.

“We’re on board this year and next year, and we’ve an option for 2021 and 2022. Media value for us from this was valued last year in excess of €160m and that’s very successful for Dubai Duty Free.”

Dubai Duty Free’s current sponsorship deal with the Irish Derby, won last weekend by Aidan O’Brien’s Sovereign at the Curragh, was up this year but McLoughlin added:

We’ve done 12 very successful years. We’re committed to five more years. The prize money is €1.5m and we can see that rising.

“I think these things have to go up so I say yes, it will go up.”

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