With his carefully curated portrait of a man bobbing across the world stage disrupting industries, imposing conditions and settling scores, Greg Norman shows a delusion common among courtiers who imagine themselves in the context of those for whom they work. But far from earning a comparison with Mohammed bin Salman, or even with Yasser Al-Rumayyan, deputy crown prince in the Saudi sovereign wealth fund, Norman is increasingly calling attention to another legendary figure from the region: Mohammed Saeed Al-Sahhaf.
Sahhaf is best remembered as “Ali the Comedian,” a sarcastic nickname he earned while serving as Saddam Hussein’s spokesman during the Iraq War two decades ago. Everything he said defies the ample evidence to the contrary, most notably his insistence that American forces were killed outside Baghdad, even as American tanks were rolling into the very neighborhood where he was standing. The miserable shilling of Middle Eastern autocrats and refusal to acknowledge reality sounds eerily familiar today, though Norman lacks the prosperity that Sahaf’s apparent insanity provides.
After a year during which a splash occurred, LIV’s novelty value wanes and the time it will sink or swim approaches. And so Norman soaks up the positives with the same determination he did on many Sunday nights in the major leagues.
This week, he bravely presented the fact that Justin Thomas had a meeting with LIV — and didn’t immediately sit down on the concept — as evidence of the league’s success, while omitting that the conversation took place some time ago and that Thomas has since been a loyal vocalist to the PGA Tour. The contortions continued when Norman said that Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy “have no idea what they’re talking about” and accused them of being childish for saying he should be replaced as CEO, before adding that the door to LIV is still open for them, as much as a drowning man’s arms are open for whoever wishes to throw his life jacket.
Despite reports that he could be replaced by former TaylorMade CEO Mark King, Norman insists his position is secure. I had the full support of my boss. one hundred percent. thousand percent. There was not a single thing that suggested otherwise. I’m absolutely confident,” with the cheerful assurance he often makes on Saturdays. But security is rare in a well-fed food chain, and Norman knows it.
At the end of the league’s final season in Miami, Chief Operating Officer Atul Khosla was flown in to talk about plans for a broadcast rights deal and corporate sponsorship for the teams. This week, it’s hit the door, leaving the commercial landscape largely unchanged since Sean Bratches stepped down as commercial director seven months ago: no TV deal, no traction with fans, no live-stream audience, no sign of mass player defection. , there is no sponsor interest. However, Norman’s perfunctory statement confirming Khosla’s departure made sure to announce LIV’s “successful opening season”.
The firing of another key CEO from his place came after damage was done The New York Times The Dec. 11 report that detailed the struggle facing Saudi golf ambitions, based on a 2021 report by preferred system advisor McKinsey and Company. McKinsey has long been complacent about unsavory customers — the company previously helped identify Saudi dissidents on social media who were later targeted by the government — yet even reliable reviewers couldn’t craft a plausible path to LIV’s success, at least not as a conventional investment.
McKinsey has taken pains to note that it was not challenging the ludicrous assumptions underlying LIV’s predictions. On this basis, the most optimistic scenario—one that requires every major player to be signed, landed a broadcast deal, and face no downturn from the PGA Tour—proposes earnings (not profit) of several hundred million dollars a year by 2028. The failure In meeting these criteria, which is how it goes, you will see losses of over $350 million annually. This study was completed before LIV had to throw absolutely huge sums of money at players for logging on.
In hackneyed advisory jargon, the report was a vibrant, neon stop sign. McKinsey devised a decision matrix that was then discarded, and LIV was launched without market research to determine if it was a product that anyone other than Norman would crave and the players and agents stowing away in MBS’ portfolio. This overlooked McKinsey assessment shows how few people in Riyadh need to sell a bill of goods to Leaf to get this far. And it goes along with how few people should lose faith before pulling the plug.
Regardless of whether their ultimate ambition is to use golf to enhance reputation rather than generate commercial revenue, even the Saudis have an inflection point at which they will not be considered fools. It’s beyond most of the way along the road, but it’s there. For all his tireless rants in public, most Norman realizes that LIV is moving inexorably toward arithmetic when his words cease to concern the sober reality of numbers.