Asian Tour sued for ‘restraint of trade’

Four members of the Asian Tour have filed a restraint-of-trade suit against the pro circuit, which has fined its players for participating in rival OneAsia tournaments, according to a Bloomberg report.

Terry Pilkadaris and Matthew Griffin, both of Australia, along with Scotsman Simon Yates and Dutchman Guido van der Valk are part of the group action against the Asian Tour, which is involved in an escalating turf war with OneAsia, an upstart tour that stages events in the Asia-Pacific region.

Asian Tour members were instructed in March that they couldn’t play in rival tournaments without permission from the tour. According to Bloomberg, the Asian Tour has fined players up to US $15,000 each for violating the ban. The plaintiffs paid the fines, except for Griffin, who is now suspended from the Asian Tour, Bloomberg reported.

The suit, filed in Singapore High Court, alleges the Asian Tour’s policies are an “unreasonable restraint of trade.”

“The Asian Tour’s been around for some time now, and it hasn’t really been going anywhere,” Yates told Bloomberg. “OneAsia’s come along and every event is at least US $1 million. The Asian Tour’s only worth US $300,000 for some, and even then you’ve got to be in the top 20 to win any money.

“I’ve got to make a living for my family. It’s very, very difficult to make money on the Asian Tour.”

Asian Tour executive chairman Kyi Hla Han, however, told Bloomberg the tour is only enforcing its rules and regulations, which he says, players “agreed to when they signed their memberships.”

The tour is seeking to have the case dismissed, saying it is “manifestly groundless without foundation.”

The Asian Tour held 28 events with a total purse of US $38 million last year, down from US $39 million and 30 tournaments in 2008.

By comparison, OneAsia has 11 events this year, offering US $12 million. OneAsia is a venture of the PGA Tour of Australasia, China Golf Association, Japan Golf Tour, Korean Golf Association and Korean PGA.

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