The PGA Tour, LIV Golf and Saudi Arabian Sovereign Wealth Fund asked a federal judge in California on Friday to dismiss a lawsuit that challenged the US court system with golf’s economic and power structures.
A motion to dismiss the lawsuit, which meant it could not be refiled, came less than two weeks after the tour, when the wealth funds that funded LIV announced a tentative agreement to form a partnership. The deal could remain unsettled for months and faces intense scrutiny in Washington, but Friday’s filing in federal district court in San Jose, Calif. marks a milestone in the sudden easing of tensions between rival circuits. It was an event.
Judge Beth Rabson Freeman, who has overseen the case, is expected to approve the request, which forms the basis of a preliminary agreement between the Tour and the Wealth Fund. By abandoning lawsuits, the LIV, PGA Tour and Wealth Fund will limit the potential for damaging disclosures and rising legal costs, as well as cut off their remedies should new partnerships fail.
Justice Department officials already conducting an antitrust investigation into men’s professional golf are expected to scrutinize the agreement and may attempt to block or force changes to it. At least two Senate committees have requested information about the proposed deal and its outcome, but the deal has not even been approved by the PGA Tour board.
Many aspects of the deal itself also remain in flux, including the tour, the LIV and the valuation of the DP World Tour (formerly the European Tour) assets housed within the new commercial venture. Tour commissioner Jay Monaghan will become the company’s chief executive officer, while wealth fund president Yasir Al Rumayyan will become chairman. The PGA Tour expects to have a majority of seats on the new company’s board, but the wealth fund will have broad powers over how it raises money, and Saudi Arabia will certainly have a lot of leverage.
By June 6, when the deal was announced, the PGA Tour had warned against entrenching Saudi money and influence in golf and fueling the costly and complicated California lawsuit.
The bitter lawsuit began last August, when 11 LIV players, including major tournament winners Phil Mickelson and Bryson DeChambeau, sued the tour for violating antitrust laws. LIV itself joined the lawsuit later that month.
The Tour also filed its own complaint against LIV, alleging that it unfairly interfered with existing contracts with players. The tour has since gained Judge Freeman’s approval to expand the case to include the wealth fund itself and Al Rumayyan, but this was just one of many decisions that put pressure on Saudi Arabia and its allies. Excellent financial power put an immeasurable burden on the tour.
Tour, Wealth Fund, and LIV have fought bitterly over gathering evidence in the case, and many filings in the case have been redacted, but a federal judge ruled earlier this year that Wealth Fund was “behind the founding, funding, and It is a driving force,” he concluded. , overseeing and operating LIV,” reversing claims that LIV is a reluctant investor in golf.
A trial was not scheduled until at least next year.
Hours before the tour and LIV were filed on Friday, The New York Times filed a petition asking the court to unseal the record of the case. Citing a “substantial and legitimate public interest in these proceedings and their consequences,” the Times suggested that the planned partnership could eliminate concerns of competitive harm.
“To the extent that competitive harms existed at the time of sealing, those justifications may not apply with the same force now or upon completion of the parties’ anticipated merger,” the Times filing said. There is.” “The seal is a decision that may and should be reconsidered as the facts change and circumstances require.”
It was not clear when a judge would rule on any of Friday’s allegations.