In response to a Justice Department investigation, the PGA Tour and the Saudi Public Investment Fund dropped a condition in their agreement that would have barred player poaching.
The Justice Department launched an antitrust investigation last summer, which was broadened after the PGA Tour and Saudi Arabia’s PIF agreed to collaborate.
The non-solicitation clause was included in the framework agreement agreed by the PGA Tour, DP World Tour, and PIF on June 6.
The deal, which is still being discussed and must be approved by the PGA Tour board, calls for the stakeholders to create a for-profit entity to aggregate commercial enterprises and rights. PGA Tour chief operating officer Ron Price stated at a Senate hearing on Tuesday that PIF will invest at least $1 billion.
The arrangement hinged on the dismissal of all antitrust proceedings, which a federal court approved last month. The non-solicitation clause followed, which stated that the PIF, PGA Tour, and European Tour would no longer “solicit or recruit any players who are members of the other tours or organisations to become members of their respective organisations.”
When the agreement was signed on May 30, the provision went into force.
Following the elimination of the provision, the PGA Tour stated to Sky Sports, “The Framework Agreement sets the stage for an exciting future for professional golf that re-establishes competition at the highest levels of the sport and creates the biggest stage for everyone – players, sponsors, and fans.
“We chose to remove specific language from the Framework Agreement based on discussions with staff at the Department of Justice.
“While we believe the language is legal, we also believe it is unnecessary in the spirit of cooperation and because all parties are negotiating in good faith,” the statement says.
According to the New York Times, antitrust experts cautioned that the clause might violate federal law if it damaged the integrity of the labour market and promised to impede competition for independent companies.