Monday, December 4, 2023

DP World Tour ‘optimistic’ of deal with PGA Tour and LIV Golf as talks rumble on – SportsPro

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  • Tours more motivated than ever to wrap up agreement, says Pelley
  • Deadline could pass before a definitive deal

DP World Tour chief executive Keith Pelley is “optimistic” progress will be made with regards to a proposed merger with the PGA Tour and LIV Golf in the next month as the trio look to lock in a definitive agreement.

It has now been more than five months since golf’s three leading men’s tours announced plans to combine their commercial operations into a single entity. However, reaching a finalised deal with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), which owns LIV Golf, has hit several roadblocks.

Bloomberg reported in October that the merger wouldn’t be completed before the end of 2023 deadline due to a probe from the US Justice Department over antitrust concerns, financial details of PIF’s investment, as well as the logistics of working through each tour’s broadcast contracts and brand sponsorships.

Speaking to Sky Sports, Pelley (pictured above) confirmed talks have been ongoing to try and find a resolution.

“I think everyone understands and everyone respects some of the reasons, I don’t need to go into them, that for the past four or five months it hasn’t moved as quickly as we would have hoped after signing on June 6th in San Francisco,” said Pelley from the DP World Tour Championship.

“I said to a number of journalists a couple of weeks ago that I thought things would heat up and conversations would intensify after the Ryder Cup in Rome and that is exactly what has happened.

“The conversations are confidential in nature, so I can’t really go into the details of it, but I do believe that all three parties are in the exact same position that they we were in June.

“I think we’re more motivated now to do a deal, and that’s of course the PIF, the PGA Tour and ourselves, to try to take the framework to the next step, to sign a definitive agreement which unifies the game, which I believe is in the best interests of global golf.

“I’m optimistic that we can move these conversations on in the next month.”

Pelley’s comments echo those of PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan, who said in a memo to players last week that the tour was still committed to the merger talks but characterised the progress as ‘deliberate’, citing the complex nature of the negotiations.

Four-time major winner Rory McIlroy, who recently resigned from his player director role on the PGA Tour policy board, also believes progress is being made, but acknowledged there were still several hurdles to clear.

“I think if you were in the middle of it, you would see that there’s a path forward,” McIlroy said in his press conference ahead of the DP World Tour Championship. “It’s just that no one on the outside has any details, right. Loose lips sink ships, so we are trying to keep it tight and within walls.

“I’m sure when there’s news to tell, it will be told. I think getting something done sooner rather than later is a good thing. Because you know, even if we get a deal done, it doesn’t mean that it’s actually going to happen.

“That’s up to the United States government at that point and whether the Department of Justice think that it’s the right thing to do or whether [it’s] anti-competitive or whatever. Even if a deal does get done, it’s not a sure thing. So yeah, we are just going to have to wait and see.”

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