Majed Al Sorour, LIV Golf managing director and Golf Saudi CEO, is no longer in an administrative role with the breakaway circuit, Golf Digest has confirmed. Sports Illustrated was the first to break the story.
Al Sorour, who serves as an adviser to Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund and is the director of the Premier League’s Newcastle United soccer club, was considered the second-in-command at the Saudi-backed circuit, behind only Aramco chairman and PIF governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan. Greg Norman may have been the public-facing leader, but sources familiar with LIV tell Golf Digest Al-Rumayyan and Al Sorour were the two people who had final say over LIV Golf/Golf Saudi matters.
Now Norman will report to Al-Rumayyan alone, as Al Sorour moves to a position on the LIV board.
“Majed Al Sorour has been and will continue to be an invaluable part of LIV Golf, as he continues in his Board of Directors capacity,” a LIV Golf spokesperson told Golf Digest. “Majed’s role was pivotal in supporting the launch of LIV Golf. As the business transitions into its first full season with a new broadcast partnership in place, the time is right for the managing director role to transition and for Majed to focus efforts and attention on other interests.
“We are grateful for Majed’s hard work, contributions and getting LIV to this new stage.”
Al Sorour’s departure continues an offseason of upheaval among LIV Golf management. In December, it was revealed Atul Khosla, chief operating officer of LIV, had left. Khosla was considered one of the voices of reason inside LIV, sources tell Golf Digest. Against criticism that LIV Golf was nothing more than a publicity stunt to improve the reputation of Saudi Arabia—which funds the golf entity through the PIF—Khosla insisted the organization’s goals were business related. Matt Goodman, president of LIV franchises, also left LIV following its first year.
Sources close to LIV Golf tell Golf Digest that Al Sorour’s managing director position will not be filled. In turn, his absence will allow Norman to play a bigger role at LIV. This comes despite calls from Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy for the two-time major champion to step down in order for a detente between LIV and the golf world. However, multiple sources say a number of LIV Golf players remain in Norman’s corner. They appreciate that he is fighting for their interests, particularly in trying to secure Official World Golf Ranking status, along with providing them cover from backlash for joining an entity with numerous human-rights issues attached.
Last week, LIV Golf announced its long-awaited media-rights agreement, revealing that it had partnered with The CW Network. Being on a traditional U.S. TV broadcast platform does potentially increase exposure that could entice sponsors to the league and its 12 team franchises. It is through its franchise model that LIV is banking on a revenue stream that can eventually allow it to recoup the hundreds of millions of dollars spent getting the series off the ground.
However, LIV Golf was given no fee for its rights, sources told Golf Digest, instead agreeing to a deal where it will split advertisement revenue with The CW. For context, the PGA Tour receives in the neighborhood of $700 million per year from its media rights partners NBC, CBS and ESPN. Al Sorour had previously expressed ambitions of an in-house television channel, similar to the NFL or MLB Network.
Al Sorour is perhaps best known to the golf world for his quote in a New Yorker article about LIV published in October in which he stated that should LIV players be banned from competing in major championships, the league would create its own. “If the majors decide not to have our players play? I will celebrate. I will create my own majors for my players,” Al Sorour was quoted as saying. “Honestly, I think all the tours are being run by guys who don’t understand business.”
Shortly after the story’s publication, Al Sorour issued a statement to clarify his comments following the story’s publication. “I had a casual conversation with a New Yorker reporter at LIV’s Boston event a few weeks ago, during which I expressed my frustration at the unfortunate blackballing of LIV Golf players by the PGA Tour,” Sorour said. “When it comes to the majors, tournaments that stand alone and are independent of LIV, I have the utmost respect for the majors. The majors are about history, heritage, true competition and honor. The story wrongfully expressed and misrepresented my views. The majors are indeed the best platform where LIV golfers and other tour golfers can compete, despite the PGA Tour’s suspension of our players.”
LIV Golf’s second season will begin on Feb. 24 at Mayakoba, with both individual and team competitions similar to the inaugural season returning.