Imagine Roger Goodell standing at a podium and explaining the NFL has merged with both the USFL and XFL and is now creating a new global league to better the game.
What if Adam Silver was on CNBC announcing the NBA was combining with the EuroLeague to form the best basketball league in the world?
Oh, and neither had any conversations with their players association and just did the deal.
The NFL and NBA have owners and the leagues are team sports and that is different from the PGA Tour where individual players are basically their own team, but how could the players have no say when it comes to the actual selling of their tour? How could their sport be structured in a way where one man, and in this case PGA Commissioner Jay Monahan, is able to basically sell their tour? And make no mistake, that is exactly what Monahan did. The Tour's release yesterday may talk about a new partnership to advance the game, but Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund is the biggest investor in this newly formed company and Yasir Al-Rumayyan, the governor of the Saudi PIF, will be the chairman of the newly formed board.
But back to Monahan and being able to do such a deal; again, how do players have no say in such a deal? In the NBA and NFL, the league and its owners negotiate a collective bargaining agreement with the players association. The PGA Tour has no CBA with its players, who are independent contractors. But there is a players' board that has been involved in talks over the years and the last two years regarding LIV and the Tour's position. Players had been asking for more say in things like the Tour's media deal, social media policies and things like the tournament schedule, required number of events and many other tour related items.
Yet Monahan- along with two other tour board members- spent seven weeks secretly negotiating the deal with the PIF. It appeared their negotiations were close to being made public and that's why the story came out yesterday and that's where Monahan failed on so many levels. He wasn't prepared.
First, Monahan chose to bring 9/11 into the PGA/LIV battle almost a year ago at the Canadian Open in his sit down with CBS' Jim Nantz where talked about victims and families from that tragedy and openly questioned the leadership of LIV of their connection to 9/11 and called out golfers who chose to take the money from "that group" and how painful that must be to families who lost loved ones. That was a strategy he chose to go with. He can't delete the video that went viral all day yesterday after the announcement. When Monahan said he knows that people are going to call him a hypocrite he added "anytime I said anything I said it with the information I had in the moment." Well Jay, do you care to share what information you have now other than the billions of the dollars your biggest investor is bringing to the table?
Once Monahan chose that route a year ago he put himself in a position he finds himself in with many calling for his resignation. But the other big mistake Monahan made is not being ready for the story to leak. Despite having a release promoting the new partnership and how the game will grow, he missed on showcasing what the new PIF money means to the players he told to not leave for.
Monahan may soon announce, but he didn't yesterday really explain how his tour players will benefit. There are a few nibbles about keeping some LIV ideas of team play and how LIV players can get their PGA Tour cards back. But he didn't announce what I expect to be coming, which is the new PIF money will raise purses from $6-8M to $20-25M and some of the elevated tournaments-like the Arnold Palmer Invitational- may see purses go from $20M to $30-40M. I think you will see a return of world golf events but truly playing across the world with purses probably in the $50-60M range and I suspect appearance fees and a huge bonus pool to be on the horizon. Because, it was always about the money.
In fact, I do wonder if Monahan and PIF are going to find a way to compensate some of those players who chose to not sign with LIV. If Rory, Jon Rahm, Scottie Scheffler, Jordan Spieth and others decided to not play in protest of Monahan's actions that hurts upcoming events. They turned down eight to nine figure sums to join LIV and those who took the money appear to be just welcomed back with all that cash falling out of their pockets.
Which leads me to the next conclusion; LIV is no longer needed and I think it's gone within a year.
Wait, what? How? Why? Didn't the PIF just get the ultimate life vest? Yes, they did but they no longer need LIV. They wanted into the PGA Tour for years but they could not buy their way into the level they now have. LIV was created to do exactly what he did. LIV created awareness of the issues Phil Mickleson and others raised and they successfully created legal problems for the PGA Tour. But the new deal gives the Saudi group everything it wanted and more and adds another sports goal to their treasure chest after gaining significant access to the Premier League and Formula One. Is the NFL or NBA next? Why not? If anyone is willing to overpay for the access, the PGA Tour's newest and biggest investor appears ready to deal. Jerry Jones vows he would never sell the Dallas Cowboys. What if he was offered $10B? Never forget, it's always about the money...always.
Final note: In October 2021, the PIF purchased 80% of Newcastle United in the Premier League. In 2022, Newcastle finished 11th of 20 in the table. The PIF then spent as much, if not more, than anyone else in the league. In the recently completed 2023 season, Newcastle finished fourth and qualified for the Champions League for next year - worth tens of millions of dollars to the club.