LIV Golf make OUTRAGEOUS claim against PGA Tour exec; call CW 'secondary'

Attorneys for the LIV Golf League have accused the PGA Tour of 'sabotaging' their media rights deal, calling their current partner a 'secondary network'.

Ben Smith's picture
Fri, 24 Mar 2023
LIV Golf make OUTRAGEOUS claim against PGA Tour exec; call CW 'secondary'

Attorneys for the LIV Golf League have claimed the PGA Tour 'sabotaged' an agreed media rights deal which led to the Saudi-backed tour partnering with a 'secondary' network. 

That secondary network? The CW, of which LIV signed a deal with with in the off-season.

It was penned shortly before LIV began their 14-stop season in 2023, with LIV Golf commissioner and CEO Greg Norman hailing the deal as a 'momentous day'. 

Court documents appear to paint a very different picture of what LIV actually wanted. Apparently, a signed deal with a different network was sabotaged. 

Related: LIV Golf employee sounds off on...LIV Golf?!

The docs were submitted on 22 March and made public a day later. 

Primarily, these documents relate to the deposition of PGA Tour exec Thierry Pascal, who was the managing director for the tour's international media division. 

In the filing, LIV attorneys argued:

"Based on tour documents and other sources, LIV believes Mr. Pascal used illegal means to dissuade numerous broadcasters in international markets from signing broadcast contracts with LIV and even from reporting about LIV events in their news content. 
"Furthermore, attorneys for LIV claim that Pascal's actions took place in person and were untraceable."

They claim that following Pascal's interactions with potential media partners, they no longer wanted to do business with LIV. 

The documents added:

"Time and again, after the live meeting or phone call, the broadcaster did an about face and informed LIV the negotiations (in one case, a signed contract) could not proceed. Because of his conduct and his efforts to conceal it, Mr. Pascal is a foundational witness whose testimony will inform later discovery in important ways."

"Secondary network"

Attorneys for LIV claim that as a result of Pascal's actions, they were forced into signing with 'a secondary network'. 

LIV signed a multi-year deal with The CW in January. Unfortunately, the details of that deal have been kept private. 

Multiple news outlets, including ESPN and Sports Illustrated, have quoted sources claiming the CW is not paying any rights fees to LIV. 

Instead, they are sharing ad revenue. LIV Golf have played three events so far in 2023. 

Initial reports suggested their viewing figures were woeful. LIV hit back, claiming more people watched than what was reported. 

The legal battle between LIV and the PGA began last August, with a number of golfers filing an antitrust lawsuit against the North American circuit. 

That list of golfers was headlined by the likes of Phil Mickelson, who challenged their suspensions for defecting to LIV. 

Mickelson and a number of players subsequently dropped out of the litigation as LIV Golf added themselves as a plaintiff. 

A tentative date for summary judgment in the case is scheduled for 23 July 2023. That is when the PGA Tour is expected to seek to dismiss the case. 

A trial date has been set for 8 January 2023. PGA Tour attorneys have previously argued to push this date, owing to the complexity of the case. 

LIV were given a win when the judge overseeing the case, Beth L. Freeman, ruled the schedule would remain unchanged. 

That followed a victory for PGA Tour attorneys, who were allowed to amend their countersuit against LIV by adding Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund and its governor, Yasir Al-Rummayyan as defendants. 

Al-Rummayan is referred to in LIV quarters as 'The Investor'. He is thought of as the mastermind behind LIV Golf. 

Keep checking GolfMagic for all the latest news in the legal battle. 

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