PGA Tour and Saudi-backed LIV extend deadline to finalize deal

When the PGA Tour and the newly formed LIV golf league, funded by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, announced their groundbreaking deal for men’s golf tours to join forces in June, they left most of the details unanswered and set a date deadline on December 31 to determine it. them outside.

It is now clear that both sides will need more time.

PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said in a memo to players Sunday afternoon that the PGA Tour and Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund, were “working to extend” negotiations into the new anus.

The sides had been discussing signing a formal one-month extension, which could be extended even longer, said three people familiar with the negotiations who were not authorized to discuss them. But while both sides remain focused on closing a deal, they have yet to set a new formal deadline.

Those talks continue as the PGA Tour moves forward in simultaneous talks to raise additional money from Strategic Sports Group, an investment group led by Fenway Sports Group, the parent company of the Boston Red Sox, the Pittsburgh Penguins and the English soccer club. Liverpool.

Monahan said Sunday that the tour and the Strategic Sports Group “have made significant progress” in their talks and that the tour had “provided SSG with the due diligence information they requested.” The parties are focused on finalizing the terms of the agreement and documents, he said.

The PGA Tour, the Saudi fund and the Strategic Sports Group enter 2024 with significant uncertainty about the agreement. Since the June announcement, the questions that initially accompanied the frenetic rollout of the deal appear to have worsened: How will potential American investment sit alongside Saudi money? How will golf tours work together even when the Saudis are still actively looking to poach players from the PGA Tour?

The planned partnership was announced on June 6 with few outlines of an actual agreement. The PGA Tour and the Saudi fund had planned to work out the details, including governance, asset valuation and how the money would be put to work, by the end of 2023.

About two weeks after the tentative partnership was announced, the tour and the Saudi wealth fund, which had been bitterly at odds 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 improperly interfering with existing player contracts.

In the months since then, the preliminary pact has faced backlash from players, who said the deal caught them by surprise, and from U.S. lawmakers, with some demanding further investigation into the tour’s ties to money and Saudi influence.

Discontent among players, including those on the PGA Tour’s powerful political council, has been widespread. And LIV Golf recently signed Jon Rahm, the No. 3 player in the official world golf rankings, poaching him off the PGA Tour and highlighting the Saudis’ continued willingness to spend money on the sport and make LIV a tour contender.

“Having Jon on board was vitally important to our future and what we want to do,” said Greg Norman, CEO of LIV Golf. he said of the move. “It will create a domino effect: more apples will fall from the tree, no doubt, because LIV continues to develop.”