Saudi-backed golf tour now has ‘strength in numbers’ amid PGA rivalry
Irwin Kishner, co-chair of Herrick's Sports Law Group, was quoted in Yahoo! Finance discussing how multiple professional golfers have opted for the LIV Golf Invitational Series over the PGA Tour, and what it means for sponsors and broadcasters. Kishner reflected, "There's definitely safety in numbers — there's no question about that... And the more developed they get, the more established they get, the more likely you're going to have willingness to step up."
The article explained that multiple athletes are participating in the Saudi-backed LIV Golf International Series, which recently commenced in the U.K. As a result, the PGA Tour is "suspending all PGA golfers participating in the LIV Golf events due to a violation of competitive events and media rights regulations."
At the moment, the LIV Golf Tour has not been picked up by a major broadcasting network, but Kishner argued that the broadcasting companies may follow star players as they leave PGA for LIV and the new league's higher salaries. He explained, "I don't think there's going to be a negative taint on a broadcasting company taking on that necessarily," adding, "The only thing that you're weighing is perhaps angering the PGA Tour and promoting it. I don't think there's a negative connotation simply because a broadcaster is broadcasting a live event with 20 of the best golfers in the world."
The article noted that several sponsors have backed out of partnerships with LIV players. Kishner, however, observed, "It’s not as if it's Russian-backed or North Korean-backed.. the fact that it's Saudi ownership — I don't think in it of itself is going to create as much of a disruption on sponsorship as one might assume that would happen. I don't see a mass exodus frankly. But look, time will tell."