Liverpool owners, Fenway Sports Group (FSG), are spearheading a bid for a stake in golf’s PGA Tour, potentially could rival a deal deal with the PIF-backed LIV Golf.
FSG, the owners of Liverpool, have been picked to engage in final negotiations to become a co-investor in the esteemed PGA Tour. According to Bloomberg, a consortium led by FSG, known as Strategic Sports Group, has received unanimous approval to advance to the conclusive stages of negotiation.
Simultaneously, discussions persist with the PGA Tour and the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund (PIF). The PGA Tour had previously established a framework for a merger with PIF, who are also in talks with a deadline set at the end of this month.
Last month, reports surfaced indicating FSG’s prominence as one of the primary contenders for investment in the PGA Tour. This development transpired amid apparent challenges in reaching an agreement between the PGA Tour and PIF, the sovereign wealth fund of Saudi Arabia and proprietors of Newcastle United.
Ongoing negotiations between the involved parties continue, and the PGA retains the option to extend the deadline with PIF if deemed necessary. The prospect of a collaborative agreement involving all parties has also been considered.
Last month, in an interview with CNBC, Tom Werner, the chairman of Liverpool and FSG, acknowledged ongoing discussions but refrained from providing additional details. While sharing the platform with golf superstar Rory McIlroy, Werner stated:
“We don’t really like to talk about things that are in discussion. Really, we’re here to talk about tomorrow’s golf and this team and anything we can do to help Rory and the PGA, we’re happy to offer our support.
“We just want to offer our support creatively to any of the ideas that are welling up. It’s really up to the players to decide on the direction they want to go. I confirm we have had conversations.”
Bloomberg’s report comes from a memo sent to the business media outlet which was sent to players. The Tour’s board said in the memo that it was “very confident in an eventual, positive outcome for all players and the PGA Tour as a whole.”
The report claims that other investors alongside FSG in Strategic Sports Group are New York Mets owner Steve Cohen’s family office; the owner of the Atlanta Falcons, Arthur Blank; Gerry Cardinale, founder and managing partner of RedBird Capital, the 11% shareholders in FSG and owners of AC Milan; Boston Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck; and Tom Ricketts, owner of the Chicago Cubs. FSG chief John Henry, chairman Werner and president Mike Gordon, the most hands-on of FSG’s leadership team at Liverpool, were all individually named as investors in the group.
Earlier this year, despite a highly publicised exchange of words, the PGA Tour, the PIF, and the DP World Tour (commonly known as the European Tour) reached a groundbreaking agreement to merge into a single commercial entity.
This surprising deal sent shockwaves through the sporting world, especially considering the previous animosity stemming from the formation of the PIF-backed LIV Golf Tour. This alternative tour had lured players away from the PGA Tour by offering substantial financial incentives, creating a notable division within the realm of golf.
In recent days, the potential threat posed by the LIV Golf Tour to the PGA Tour has become more apparent. This was underscored when world No.3-ranked Jon Rahm departed to join the LIV Tour as part of a lucrative £450 million deal. Rahm’s decision to switch camps is part of a trend that includes other prominent figures such as Brooks Koepka and Sergio Garcia, who had already chosen the same path following the launch of the LIV Golf Tour.
PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan is set to engage in discussions this week with Yasir Al-Rumayyan, head of the PIF and chairman of Newcastle United. The aim is to foster closer ties between the PGA and PIF, mitigating the looming threat of a persistent LIV push that could potentially disrupt the existing structure of golf.
Already entrenched in the golf landscape, FSG has made inroads through its investment in the TMRW Golf League (TGL), led by Tiger Woods and McIlroy. The Liverpool owners secured a franchise in Boston, solidifying their presence in this dynamic league. The TGL stands out as a unique competition, seamlessly blending team golf with a virtual course and a distinctive in-person short game area.
Originally slated to kick off next month at the So-Fi Center in Palm Beach, Florida, plans for the TGL have been recalibrated, pushing the start date to 2025. This adjustment comes in response to unforeseen challenges, specifically a substantial power failure resulting from damage to the arena. This incident cast doubt on the venue’s readiness for the initially planned launch, prompting a strategic delay.
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