When the PGA Tour and the new LIV golf league, funded by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, announced their groundbreaking deal in June for men’s golf tours to join forces, they left most of the details unanswered and have set December 31 as the deadline to determine. take them out.
It is now clear that both sides will need more time.
PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan said in a note to players Sunday evening that the PGA Tour and Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund, are “working to extend” negotiations until the new year.
The sides discussed signing a formal one-month extension, which could be extended further, said three people familiar with the negotiations who were not authorized to discuss them. But while both sides remain focused on reaching a deal, they have yet to set a new formal deadline.
These negotiations continue as the PGA Tour moves forward in simultaneous negotiations to raise additional funds from Strategic Sports Group, an investment group led by Fenway Sports Group – the parent company of the Boston Red Sox, Penguins Pittsburgh and the English football club Liverpool.
Mr. Monahan said on Sunday that the tour and Strategic Sports Group “have made significant progress” in their talks and that the tour has “provided SSG with the due diligence information they have requested.” The parties are focused on finalizing the terms of the agreement and documents, he said.
The PGA Tour, Saudi Heritage Fund and Strategic Sports Group enter 2024 with great deal uncertainty. Since the June announcement, the questions that initially accompanied the deal’s frenetic implementation appear to have deepened: How will potential U.S. investments mesh with Saudi money? How will the golf tours work together even as the Saudis are still actively seeking to poach players from the PGA Tour?
The planned partnership was announced June 6 with few outlines of an actual deal. The PGA Tour and the Saudi fund had planned to iron out details, including governance, asset valuation and how the money would be used, by the end of 2023.
About two weeks after the attempted partnership was announced, the tour and the Saudi fund, which had been feuding bitterly for months, agreed to drop their acrimonious litigation against each other. LIV had accused the tour of violating antitrust laws, and the tour had accused LIV of inappropriately interfering with existing player contracts.
In the months since, the preliminary deal has faced backlash from players, who said they were blindsided by the deal, and U.S. lawmakers, with some demanding further investigation into the company’s ties. tour with Saudi money and influence.
Discontent among players, including those on the PGA Tour’s powerful board of directors, is pervasive. And LIV Golf recently signed Jon Rahm, the No. 3 player in the Official World Golf Rankings, poaching him from the PGA Tour and underscoring the Saudis’ continued willingness to spend money on the sport and make LIV a contender in the circuit.
“Having Jon on board was critically important to our future and what we want to do,” said Greg Norman, Managing Director of LIV Golf. said about the move. “It will create a domino effect – there will be more apples falling from the tree – there is no doubt about that as LIV continues to grow.”