BallybunionThe Irish Seniors Open is facing a slow, agonising death if we are to judge by the words and actions of the European Senior Tour and Failte Ireland.

With the ailing event conspicuous by its absence from the slim-line 2010 European Senior Tour schedule that was released on Tuesday, a call to the undertaker is in order unless a money tree shoots up outside Failte Ireland headquarters.

Naturally, we're going to be treated to a few rounds of the blame game before the ambulance is called.

Andy Stubbs, Managing Director of the European Senior Tour, got his shot in first.

In an e-mailed statement, he said: “We are currently unable to include the Irish Seniors Open on the 2010 European Senior Tour Schedule as the funding is not in place to stage the event. 

“We have held discussions with the sponsors and done everything in our power to resolve the situation and make the tournament happen, but unfortunately due to the current economic climate it seems unlikely the Irish Seniors Open will take place next year.”  

Naturally, a spokesperson for Failte Ireland offered hope that the event might still go ahead. They are not going to invest any of the cash they got in the budget without getting full value for money.

"No decision has been made on whether the Irish Seniors Open is happening or not," the Failte Ireland spokesperson said. "Negotiations with the European Senior Tour are still on-going and will probably continue into 2010. It will be early January before an announcement is made."

This year's event at Ballybunion was saved from utter disaster when Ian Woosnam beat the unknown American Bob Boyd in a play-off. 

Bad weather, a lacklustre field and zero interest from everyone bar the enthusiastic members made for a depressing few days on one of Ireland's finest links courses.

It was certainly a far cry from the halcyon days of the Irish Seniors Open, when AIB were still pumping in the cash as part of their 2006 Ryder Cup deal.

The bank sponsored the event for 11 years before stepping down as title sponsor in 2007. Fortunately for the tour and Failte Ireland, the other main backer since 1997, AIB stayed on as an associated sponsor in 2008 before bowing out definitively following this season's event.

Many of the players are wonderful ambassadors for the game and give the sponsors great value for money as they entertain the amateurs in pro-ams on Wednesday and Thursday.

There are others who do nothing but complain, such as a former European Tour star, who moaned pathetically to an official when he was told that he had to attend the obligatory dinner.

"Why do you do this to us?" he wailed, before he was hauled off to a discreet distance to be told exactly why.