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Anger at Ryder Cup charge

RYDER Cup organisers have been accused of excluding young people from involvement in next year's tournament at Gleneagles after announcing a £75 charge for volunteers.

ON COURSE: The Herald tells of the £75 charge for volunteers.

Unions and a politician have criticised the European Tour after it announced the fee to cover food, drink and clothing as part of its drive to recruit an army of 1800 helpers.

The event – which will attract 45,000 spectators to see Europe and America's elite golfers from September 26 to 28, 2014 – is expected to generate £100 million for the local economy. But Labour MSP Patricia Ferguson and the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) said the fee would have the opposite effect.

Ms Ferguson welcomed the recruitment drive for people to carry out tasks such as carrying scoreboards, marshalling crowd safety, selling programmes and driving buggy shuttles.

But she added: "I am very disappointed people are being asked to pay to volunteer.

"I would have hoped organisers could have worked with local communities and focused on Scottish young people from across all backgrounds first, before opening this up to everyone, anywhere in the world.

"The Commonwealth Games has launched its recruitment drive, which I hope will enable Scots from all backgrounds access to one of the world's leading sporting events. There is no financial barrier to letting them take part.

"Some of the greatest images of the London 2012 Games were the enthusiastic volunteers who reflected the diversity of the UK in their roles and there is no reason the Ryder Cup in Scotland should be any different."

Stephen Boyd, STUC, assistant secretary, said the plan was not spreading the potentially huge economic benefits throughout the population.

He added: "When I heard the news, I couldn't quite believe what I was hearing.

"You would have thought this was a good chance to give young people a bit of work, especially given the economic climate. Clearly these jobs are open to middle-class people who are interested in golf and have the money to spend on the registration fee.

"It's really quite unacceptable, and no-doubt against the vision of what the Scottish Government had for this event."

Ryder Cup Europe said volunteers will be guaranteed at least half a day on course during each day of competition, off-course volunteers will be transported from their sites to the golf course directly to ensure they can enjoy the match. They will also have a guaranteed opportunity to purchase a Ryder Cup season ticket for the whole event for a family member or friend.

A spokesman said: "Registration fees are common to Ryder Cup volunteering programmes both in Europe and the USA.

"They make a contribution to volunteers' food and beverages as well as clothing for the event. Volunteers receive a jacket or windcheater, fleece, polo shirt and cap as well as catering vouchers for breakfast and lunch, plus access to one of the greatest golf events in the world."

Bryce Ritchie, editor of golf magazine Bunkered, said: "While it might seem strange to have to pay to volunteer, it's common practice at the Ryder Cup.

"It happened in Wales in 2010 and it happens in America when the event is staged there. I'm sure organisers in Scotland will be inundated with volunteers and rightly so. It's a fantastic opportunity to get involved at Gleneagles.

"This Ryder Cup has become a good excuse for politicians to try and pick holes in what we're trying to do in this country, which is to provide a golf event Scotland can be proud of.

"I was particularly disappointed to read the comments of Patricia Ferguson.

"What she said stinks of cheap political point scoring, and casts an unnecessary and unwelcome negative on what should surely be a massive positive for Scotland."

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