As announced earlier this week, Australian Greg Norman has been appointed head of LIV Golf Investments which is committed to developing for the Asian Tour, a pool of 10 major international tournaments per year over the course of the next 10 years
Revenge is a dish best served cold. The expression seems perfectly appropriate to the announcements made on Friday by the new CEO of LIV Golf Investements, the one nicknamed the Great White Shark, Greg Norman.
Remember, in 1994 the latter, then world number 1, proposed to the PGA Tour an alliance for the creation of a world circuit. An attractive concept yet kindly rejected by the boss of the time of the great American circuit, the very protectionist Tim Finchem.
An end of inadmissibility that the Australian has a hard time digesting, so much so that it is not surprising to see today, 27 years later, his name associated with this colossal competing project.
This is just the beginning
The sixty-year-old therefore decided to put aside his other activities to devote himself solely to LIV Golf, an investment company. largely financed by the PIF (Public Investment Fund) based in Saudi Arabia, which has assets of over $ 500 billion.
Awaken the giant
“This is just the beginning” Norman said in a press release confirming his new role. “LIV Golf Investments has obtained will commit significant capital to create new opportunities in professional golf around the world. We want to be a respectful partner of the game and today’s announcement of our alliance with the Asian Tour is a prime example. ”
The partnership between the Asian Tour and LIV Golf should result in the creation from 2022 of a new pool of tournaments grouped together under the “Series” label in the same way as the European Tour does with the “Rolex Series”.
However LIV Golf would like to point out that it has not invested in the Asian Tour but that its activity for its new partner will be to promote the new series of tournaments.
« I have been a strong supporter of the development of golf in Asia for over four decades. The Asian Tour is a sleeping giant and we share the ambition to develop the “Series” with the aim of exploiting this considerable potential. We see the promotion of these new events as a vital first step in supporting emerging markets, by creating a new platform, rich in gaming opportunities. »
Not a new Tour …
The creation of 10 tournaments per year over the next 10 years is part of a total investment of $ 200 million in endowments and playing opportunities. It marks a turning point for the Asian Tour, which is no longer successful. to organize events since the start of the pandemic in 2020. The Asian circuit should resume next month in Thailand.
“It’s quite simply a revolution for us”, said Asian Tour commissioner Cho Minn Thant. “This is the biggest deal ever for the Asian Tour. With this opportunity, of 10 international tournaments for 10 years, this offers us the stability necessary to meet the needs of partner companies, and the demands of our broadcasters. ”
… but a very real threat
The announcement comes after the European Tour has ended its strategic alliance with the Asian Tour. For 15 years the two circuits have co-sanctioned events organized in Asia for the most part. But last September the Asian Tour announced a 10-year agreement to include the Saoudi International, which had been on the European Tour calendar for 3 years, on its circuit.
“We are proud of this collaboration but the European Tour with its new partner the PGA Tour took a unilateral decision and the time has therefore come to take different paths” Thant said with a bit of revenge.
The sprawling holding PIF
While no other name other than Greg has been announced, it is rumored that several executives have already joined LIV Golf Investments and more should follow.
PIF, which recently acquired Premier League football club Newcastle United, has investments around the world, including in Boeing, Citigroup, Facebook, Tesla and Uber to name a few.
The introduction of the PIF, one of the largest sovereign wealth funds in the world, in the world of golf therefore marks an important step but it should not be overlooked that it is also the bearer of several elements of controversy given its Saudi base.
A country strongly criticized for not respecting human rights, in particular with regard to the treatment of women without forgetting the suspicions weighing the disappearance of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi of the Washington Post in October 2018.
“I am happy that the investor base is 100 percent commercial and the desire to seize the opportunity to grow golf,” Norman simply commented. “I am pleased to partner with this group of investors with the goal of providing significant resources necessary for the fundamental changes required for the greater good of sport.”
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