LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman visits Capitol Hill as Saudi-backed league battles PGA Tour

LIV CEO and commissioner Greg Norman watches play on the third gap through the last spherical of the LIV Golf Invitational Sequence Chicago at Wealthy Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove, Illinois.

Brian Spurlock | Icon Sportswire | Getty Photographs

LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman will likely be visiting Capitol Hill this week to fulfill with members of Congress, because the Saudi-backed league tangles with the PGA Tour.

The PGA Tour has been lobbying towards LIV since 2021. LIV gamers have filed an antitrust suit against the PGA Tour. In the meantime, the Justice Department has been probing the PGA Tour’s possible anticompetitive behavior since July.

“LIV Golf is coming to the Hill this week to fulfill with lawmakers from each events,” LIV’s chief spokesperson, Jonathan Grella, instructed CNBC. “Given the PGA Tour’s makes an attempt to stifle our progress in reimagining the sport, we expect it is crucial to coach members on LIV’s enterprise mannequin and counter the Tour’s anti-competitive efforts.”

Norman is slated to fulfill with a number of lawmakers. Reps. Nancy Mace, R-N.C., and Jimmy Panetta, D-Calif., lead the casual congressional golf caucus.

Representatives for the PGA Tour, Mace and Panetta did not instantly reply to a request for remark.

The LIV Golf league was based as a competitor to the PGA Tour and is financed by Saudi Arabia’s Public Funding Fund. LIV has already poached main golfers akin to Phil Mickelson from the PGA Tour, and Norman himself is a former tour star. The tour, in flip, has barred LIV-affiliated gamers from collaborating in its occasions.

LIV Golf has constantly referred to as out the PGA Tour’s actions as anti-competitive. The upstart league mentioned that the PGA’s suspension of LIV gamers was an “effort to stifle competitors.”

From the opposite aspect, critics have referred to as out the league’s associations with the Saudi authorities, seeing it as an try at “sportswashing” to enhance the nation’s picture. Critics have additionally famous that the Saudi authorities’s unimaginable wealth makes any concept of true competitors a moot level. LIV has one other highly effective supporter in former President Donald Trump, whose Bedminster, New Jersey, nation membership hosted a league occasion over the summer time. His Doral course in Miami will maintain one other LIV occasion on the finish of October.

Since 2021, the PGA Tour has paid $360,000 to the firm DLA Piper to lobby lawmakers on a number of matters together with “Saudi Golf League proposals.” A number of lawmakers – together with Sens. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn. – have expressed concern about LIV.

PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan has taken a tough line towards LIV.

“We welcome good, wholesome competitors. The LIV Saudi Golf League is just not that. It is an irrational menace, one not involved with the return on funding or true progress of the sport,” Monahan instructed reporters earlier this yr.

LIV Golf has additionally been in search of a media deal, because the league has been self-broadcasting its premiere season on its web site and on YouTube. Current experiences mentioned Apple and Amazon handed on an a protection deal. The league’s Chief Media Officer Will Staeger instructed CNBC that he’s “extremely optimistic” it would have a partnership for its 2023 season. The PGA Tour has offers with CBS, ESPN and NBC.

Disclosure: NBC and CNBC share the identical dad or mum firm, NBCUniversal.

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