After spending more than $700 million to attract talent and produce its product in 2022, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that LIV Golf made little to no money in its inaugural year.
The upstart circuit led by Greg Norman and financially supported by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund is currently locked in a high-stakes antitrust lawsuit with the PGA Tour. A motion filed Monday with the U.S. District Court for Northern California saw LIV lawyers admit to “virtually zero” revenue in 2022 in an argument against the Tour, which wishes to add PIF and its governor, Yasir Al-Rumayyan, as plaintiffs in a countersuit against LIV.
Earlier this week PGA Tour lawyers provided four reasons to delay the current trial date and extend the discovery schedule for the ongoing antitrust lawsuit, a move deemed to be “exploiting litigation” by LIV Golf lawyers.
U.S. District Judge Beth Labson Freeman is overseeing the trial that is currently set for January 2024. The deadline to complete document discovery is March 30. The fact discovery deadline is May 26. Freeman will hear the arguments for and against delay on Feb. 24.
“The Tour’s motion to amend should be denied because the amendment would be futile, would cause unfair prejudice, was unduly delayed, and is obviously intended to inappropriately delay the case and resolution of Plaintiffs’ antitrust claims,” wrote LIV’s attorneys. “Delay will equally harm LIV because the Tour continues its anticompetitive conduct while the litigation is pending. The Tour has damaged LIV’s brand, driven up its costs by hundreds of millions of dollars, and driven down revenues to virtually zero.”
Eleven LIV Golf players, including Phil Mickelson and Bryson DeChambeau, filed a federal antitrust lawsuit against the PGA Tour in August of last year. Over the last six months, players have joined and dropped from the suit, and now just LIV Golf, DeChambeau, Matt Jones and Peter Uihlein remain.
In a meeting with select members of the media during its team championship last October, LIV Golf officials laid out some plans for the future and how it was going all in on the team format. The aim is for a business model that would eventually be similar to that of the NFL and other major team sports, with hopes that franchising its teams will create a revenue stream that LIV currently doesn’t possess.
Former Chief Operating Officer Atul Khosla, who has since left his position with LIV, said a successful 2023 would see 12 established teams and brands, as well as a commercialized product.
“We’ve got to get on TV, we’ve got to have corporate partners,” Khosla explained in October. “Those are successful things that we need, those are sort of milestones that we need to hit go into next year.”
LIV announced a multiyear broadcast agreement with the CW network last month, though the deal is reportedly a revenue-share where LIV won’t receive rights fees and continues to cover production costs.
LIV will return to action with the debut event of its re-branded 14-event league later this month at Mayakoba’s El Camaleón Golf Course on the Riviera Maya, Feb. 24-26.