Atul Khosla, the veteran sports executive who was expected to guide LIV Golf into the franchise model on which it has staked its viability, has resigned from the enterprise that Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund financed in a challenge to the PGA Tour.
Khosla’s exit, just greater than a 12 months after LIV announced his appointment as its chief operating officer, comes because the start-up struggles to realize sustained traction and, confidential records reported by The Latest York Times this week suggest, is removed from reaching the benchmarks that will make it successful.
“On the conclusion of LIV’s successful inaugural season, Atul Khosla decided to maneuver on,” Greg Norman, LIV’s commissioner, said in a press release on Friday, days after players and agents were privately told that Khosla would step down. “We respect A.K. and his personal decision.”
Khosla just isn’t the primary senior official to depart LIV this 12 months, and the outfit has faced questions over the long run of Norman, a two-time winner of the British Open and a vociferous critic of the PGA Tour’s design. But while a departure by Norman would threaten to deprive LIV of one in all men’s golf’s most familiar and time-tested voices, Khosla was increasingly seen because the LIV executive most integral to fashioning a way forward.
At the identical time, suspicions in regards to the true scope of his power swirled within the weeks before he left LIV. In a recent court filing, the PGA Tour accused the governor of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, because the wealth fund is formally known, of getting an outsize role in managing an operation that has attracted a handful of the world’s top players, including Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Phil Mickelson and Cameron Smith.
But even with the defections of those players and a few others from the PGA Tour, LIV has not secured the tv and sponsorship arrangements which are the lifeblood of top-tier skilled sports. Such deals were seen by McKinsey & Company consultants, in an evaluation privately prepared for Saudi officials last 12 months, as vital to the brand new league’s prospects for fulfillment.
Furthermore, LIV, which some experts regard as little greater than an effort by Saudi officials to sanitize the country’s popularity as a human rights abuser, has not achieved other benchmarks identified by McKinsey as crucial to realizing even a “coexistence” with the PGA Tour, including signing a lot of the world’s top 12 golfers and facing “no/mild response” from the golf establishment.
LIV has insisted, though, that it stays on target because it heads toward a system by which its teams will act as franchises. In a press release to The Times last week, Jonathan Grella, a LIV spokesman, said that it “has repeatedly made clear that our stakeholders take a long-term approach to our business model.”
“Despite the various obstacles put in our path by the PGA Tour, we’re delighted with the success of our beta test 12 months,” Grella said. “And we’re confident that over the following few seasons, the remaining pieces of our business model will come to fruition as planned. Our marketing strategy is built upon a path to profitability. We’ve a pleasant, long runway and we’re taking off.”
One week later, word of Khosla’s departure became public.
In his statement on Friday about Khosla’s resignation, Norman asserted that a few of LIV’s “most trusted partners” were “supporting our structural transition and introduction of exciting recent developments.”