The PGA Tour and the Saudi fund supporting the LIV Golf Tour have responded to a request from the United States Department of Justice by removing a clause from their agreement that prohibited soliciting players from one tour to another, said the PGA on Thursday.
The New York Times was first to report the new development, which comes during the Justice Department’s review of the case. The overhaul began last summer and took an even bigger turn when the PGA Tour and Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) decided to become business partners.
The non-solicitation clause was part of the agreement announced on June 6 and signed by the PGA, European Tour and PIF.
Negotiations are still ongoing and the deal still needs to be approved by the PGA Board of Directors. Its objective is to create a for-profit company which would consolidate the rights and the commercial stakes of the circuits. During a hearing before the U.S. Senate on Tuesday, PGA Tour director of operations Ron Price said the PIF would contribute at least $1 billion.
This clause came into effect on May 30, when the agreement was signed.
“Based on discussions with Department of Justice staff, we have elected to remove certain language from the Framework Agreement,” the PGA said in a statement. While we believe the wordings were legal, we also believe they were unnecessary in the spirit of cooperation and since all parties are negotiating in good faith. »
Last year, LIV Golf would have offered gold bridges sometimes exceeding 100 million to attract top golfers like Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson or Phil Mickelson.
According to the Times, antitrust experts had warned that the clause could violate federal laws if it threatened the integrity of the labor market for players, who are self-employed.