Days after LIV Golf board shakeup, executive turnover continues
LIV Golf might have signed up for Riverdale, but it seems it wound up with Succession.
Days after expanding league CEO and commissioner Greg Norman’s role for 2023, the controversial Saudi golf league found itself again in the news for a pair of executive departures, the latest in a slew of personnel announcements on the eve of the league’s second season.
News of the latest departures come courtesy of the Wall Street Journal, which reported on Friday evening that chief marketing officer Kerry Taylor and chief communications officer Jonathan Grella had been removed from their posts this week. Per the report, the news comes as part of an effort for the league to make changes before its second season.
Grella and Taylor mark the second and third high-profile departures from the league just this week, days after LIV announced that Majed Al-Sourer — the head of the Saudi Golf Federation and one-time LIV managing director — would be departing his position with the league, exiting to a board seat atop it. Under Norman’s new role, he will report directly to Yasir Al-Rumayyan, the leader of the Saudi Public Investment Fund and equity owner of LIV Golf. Those departures follow those of chief operating officer Atul Khosla and president of franchises Matt Goodman.
The news marks just the latest organizational shift for the upstart golf league before a critical second season; one that could go a long way in determining its eventual fate in the golf space. Last week, LIV announced a crucial victory — a multi-year media rights deal with the CW — ensuring a broadcast partner and some form of media revenue (likely through shared advertising revenue) for the foreseeable future. Though the agreement came with an atypical sports broadcaster (the CW is primarily known for teenage-aimed dramas, like the hit show Riverdale), the news that LIV would be available in more than 200 American television markets in 2023 was a tremendous victory for the league.
Now comes the harder part: convincing controversy-wary advertisers to commit huge sums to LIV’s product in a lukewarm economic environment. While the departures of the latest swathe of LIV executives (along with Norman’s promotion) could represent typical startup turnover, it could also represent some of the challenges faced by the league to that end.
While LIV has seen struggles generating interest from the golf industry, it has had no problem attracting talent from the professional ranks, which could be the next piece of LIV staffing news we receive. The league has committed hundreds of millions to attract pro players to its circuit, and it is expected that another wave of defections could be upon us as soon as next week’s Saudi International. To date, the Tour has granted releases to four players to compete in the event, which is funded and staged by the same investors behind LIV Golf, the Saudi Public Investment Fund.
In either case, an executive is quoted in the Journal story as saying they do not expect the staffing changes to continue any further into the new year. That’s good news for those in the LIV C-Suite, seeing as the league’s next season is expected to get underway in a little under a month.