LIV Golf attorneys paint ugly picture of league’s finances

LIV Golf is in dire straits financially, according to court records.

Per ESPN’s Mark Schlabach, lawyers for LIV Golf told U.S. District Court Judge Beth Labson Freeman the league’s revenue was “driven down … to virtually zero” due to what they describe as “anticompetitive conduct” from the PGA Tour.

The upstart golf league received substantial criticism upon its inception thanks to it being financed by the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund. 

Amnesty International and are critical of Saudi Arabia’s arbitrary legal system and the strict penalties against human and workers’ rights activists.

Per Human Rights Watch, “Saudi Arabia spends billions of dollars hosting major entertainment, cultural, and sporting events as a deliberate strategy to defect from the country’s image as a pervasive human rights violator.”

Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered in 2018 by people associated with the Saudi Arabian government, with other governments and agencies believing it to be a political hit.

At the conclusion of proceedings that saw eight of 11 defendants convicted of murder, the Saudi government said, “The investigation showed that the killing was not premeditated.” The highest-level officials on trial for Khashoggi’s murder were acquitted.

Former PGA Tour golfers such as Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson and Bryson DeChambeau drew sharp rebukes for choosing the new league over the PGA Tour. Their decisions haven’t come without consequences.

Per Schlabach, the PGA Tour suspended players who participated in LIV Golf tournaments “without conflicting event-releases.” 

Attorneys for LIV Golf argued that some players not under contract past this year risk being unable to golf in the future if the courts don’t side in their favor.

“They risk being unable to earn a living in their chosen profession during the prime of their careers … Some Player Plantiffs are not under contract with LIV past 2023, and are banned from the PGA Tour, the European Tour, and other tours around the world,” lawyers for LIV Golf wrote, per ESPN.

As Schlabach notes, this won’t affect big names who already scored big paydays from the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund. 

Phil Mickelson ($200M), Dustin Johnson ($150M) and Bryson DeChambeau ($100M) are set. However, the smaller names whose eyes got big when they saw the potential payouts on the LIV Golf League circuit could be hung out to dry.

The courts will decide if the PGA Tour violated antitrust laws, but it’s hard to argue the players who defected didn’t know what they were getting themselves into by siding with LIV Golf. 

They only thought it would come with a lot more money.

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