Report: LIV’s draft contract has limitations and a big bonus

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Report: LIV’s draft contract has limitations and a big bonus
Report: LIV’s draft contract has limitations and a big bonus


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WILMINGTON, Del. — A draft playing contract for Saudi-funded LIV Golf includes clauses requiring players to be available to recruit other players in the league and obtain permission before giving exclusive interviews, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.

The newspaper said it had reviewed a draft contract that LIV Golf had offered to players, noting that it was unclear whether the terms in the draft were in all contracts or could be negotiated.

Among other provisions in the draft agreement was approval for most of the logos they carry and branded products they use at events.

Meanwhile, LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman has sent a letter to players and agents outlining why the league should receive Official World Golf Ranking points.

“This is not only in the best interest of LIV Golf, but is important and necessary to maintain the integrity, accuracy and fairness of the standings,” Norman wrote.

Noting that the application was submitted on July 6 and that the new rounds must show that he has met the OWGR guidelines for a year, he urged the OWGR to “get comfortable” with LIV Golf’s status. Norman said neither LIV Golf nor the Asian Tour had received notice from ranking officials.

The draft contract reviewed by the Journal did not include any signing bonuses, although the Journal said one detail was a $1 million bonus for winning a major championship.

“LIV Golf, as a start-up company, is proud to offer our golfers competitive contracts,” a LIV spokesperson said in a statement to the Journal. “Our future is bright and we continue to be excited by the response from the players and fans.”

The rival league, run by Norman and backed by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, has played three events this year. The next one is scheduled for September 2-4 outside of Boston.

LIV Golf has already drawn 10 players into the top 50 in the world rankings, with Dustin Johnson the highest at No. 21. The PGA Tour has suspended them – some players have resigned – after playing an event for not having a controversial edition of the event.

Last week, a federal judge in California denied a request by three LIV Golf players who sought a temporary restraining order to end the tour’s lucrative postseason.

U.S. District Judge Beth Labson Freeman had copies of the LIV contracts signed by Taylor Gooch, Hudson Swofford and Matt Jones. Only outside lawyers and the judge — not PGA Tour lawyers — were allowed to see them, and the PGA Tour’s outside lawyer had to be careful in his arguments not to reveal any financial details.

But at one point in the hearing, when the topic was controversial events and media rights publications, Freeman noted of LIV Golf, “But from what I understand about these contracts, these are — these contracts lock these players in ways that the PGA Tour he never imagined. They are so restrictive.”

LIV Golf’s lawyer replied: “I think that is unfair, your honour.”

The newspaper said the clothing requirements were noted “repeatedly” in the draft contract it reviewed, and that players should only wear appropriate “Team Attire” during any LIV activity or “any other covered golf activity.”

One component of the LIV Golf Invitational events are 12 teams of four that finish for $5 million, in addition to a $20 million prize pool for individual results.

“Player agrees to wear LIV Golf branding (or other branding provided by the League Operator) at any tournament and any other golf tournament you participate in anywhere in the world,” it states.

The newspaper quoted a person familiar with LIV’s thinking as saying that this clause is aimed at next year, when the 12 teams for the year will be decided.

He cited another provision that requires players to agree to refrain from “providing exclusive interviews or comments” regarding any league event or activity without approval.

The draft agreement also says players agree “where requested to assist the League Operator in efforts to persuade players to enter into multi-year player participation agreements with the League Operator.”

The newspaper said the draft agreement shows players generally signing away their media rights from LIV events, similar to the PGA Tour regulations.

It also says that LIV golfers can play anywhere in the world, provided it is not the same week as the LIV Golf event. Northern Ireland’s Graham McDowell missed the Irish Open this year because it was the same week as the LIV Golf Invitational-Portland.

On the PGA Tour, players typically receive three editions of conflict events, provided they fulfill their obligations to play 15 times per season on the PGA Tour.

Norman’s World Ranking letter claims that the second LIV event in Portland had a stronger field based on the OWGR formula than the PGA Tour (John Deere Classic) and that two events had stronger fields than three European tours this year a week.

“While there is no definitive time frame for OWGR’s response, you can be assured that we will continue to do everything we can to advocate for a favorable response and provide clarity for each of you as soon as possible in light of the importance of OWGR not only for your right to participate in the majors, but also for their importance to many of your personal endorsements and commercial partnerships,” he said.

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