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European Tour set for showdown

Nick Faldo, Seve Ballesteros, Bernhard Langer and Jose Maria Olazabal will demand an independent audit of the European Tour accounts at an meeting on Thursday.

The quartet are expected to attend an Extraordinary General Meeting at Wentworth, mainly in the hope of finding out how the Tour's money is spent.

What is in doubt is how much support they will receive at the meeting.

During November's Volvo Masters in Spain, the likes of Lee Westwood and Darren Clarke were happy to go along with the idea, but in recent days, it has become unclear how many professionals will attend.

In order to defuse any possible confrontation, the Tour's executive director Ken Schofield has already written to members to say that the Tour was prepared to appoint its own external auditors.

But Schofield added that the Tour could not grant "uncontrolled access" because it would breach contract confidentiality clauses and harm its ability to negotiate the best terms.

Sergio Gomez, Olazabal's manager, has said that the independent audit is needed to examine the income and expenditure of what is now a multi-million pound business.

Tour prize money has grown from a mere 611,000 in 1975 to over 40million this season - and another 10million is on offer on the Seniors and Challenge Tours.

Gomez has questioned, for instance, why there was only a profit of less than 50,000 on 15million income from television deals.

"This has been going on for the last two or three years. If somebody looks at the books they might come up with recommendations on such things as whether there is over-staffing or too much money is being spent on travel," said Clarke's manager Andrew Chandler.

"I'm not sure the tour will take it as sensibly as that, though. I think they will take it more personally. But both sides must not take it personally.

"I think Ken has done an unbelievable job, but the infrastructure underneath him is probably not what it would be if he had his time again."

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