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EXCLUSIVE: LIV Series Snubbed For UK TV Deal By Major Broadcasters

EXCLUSIVE: LIV Series Snubbed For UK TV Deal By Major Broadcasters

The Saudi-backed rebel golf tour which begins at the Centurion Club in St Albans on Thursday has failed to secure a UK TV deal despite pitching to all the major broadcasters.

Sportsmail has learned that representatives of the LIV Series offered rights to Sky Sports, BT Sport, DAZN and the major streaming services without attracting any serious interest.

Sky Sports is the home of golf in the UK, showing over 100 tournaments each year including all the majors and the Ryder Cup, but did not seek to take on the £200million event.

The broadcaster have close links to the PGA Tour so may have declined for political reasons.


With no interest from UK channels, the LIV Series have opted to stream this week's tournament free on their own website, YouTube and Facebook.

The Saudi-backed rebel golf tour which begins on Thursday has been snubbed for a UK TV deal

The Saudi-backed rebel golf tour which begins on Thursday has been snubbed for a UK TV deal

Rory McIlroy, speaking at the Canadian Open on Wednesday night, said: 'It is not something I want to participate in. 

'I understand the guys who went and I am not knocking anyone, but I want to play on the PGA Tour against the best in the world.

Any decision you make purely for money usually doesn't end up going the right way.'

Several of the world's top golf stars have chosen to jump ship from the PGA Tour and sign up to the lucrative and controversial new competition, which is being backed by Saudi tycoons.

The tournament is being viewed by many as the latest attempt from Saudi to mask its numerous issues surrounding human rights through sporting competitions.

The controversial new tournament, which the likes of Phil Mickelson (above) have broken away from the PGA Tour to play in, has been snubbed by the likes of Sky Sports and BT Sport

The controversial new tournament, which the likes of Phil Mickelson (above) have broken away from the PGA Tour to play in, has been snubbed by the likes of Sky Sports and BT Sport

 

RIATH AL-SAMARRAI: Prime attraction Phil Mickelson conjured more questions than answers on his return from self-imposed exile...

his future beyond the LIV Golf events remains a mystery but he is very much trapped between a rock and a scary place

If golf's pariah-in-chief harboured hopes of a gentle return to the spotlight, they were not realised in a Saudi-funded corner of St Albans on Wednesday. 

That Phil Mickelson somehow conjured more questions than answers would have once been cited as evidence of his ability to work magic.

Not these days, of course, with Mickelson's reputation apparently locked on an inverse relationship with his bank balance, which is said to have swelled by as much as £160m for his romance with the LIV Invitational Series.

Just a few months ago he was quoted as describing the Saudis as 'scary mother*******', best used as 'leverage' against the 'obnoxious greed' of the PGA Tour. 

Well, with those manoeuvres having failed, Mickelson now finds himself the prime attraction for Thursday's first round of the series' inaugural event at the Centurion Club, and very much trapped between a rock and a scary place.

Whether he could go back to the PGA Tour, even if he wanted to, was one of the issues left hanging in an awkward first press conference since he put himself in exile in February. 

Phil Mickelson somehow conjured more questions than answers on his return to the spotlight

Phil Mickelson somehow conjured more questions than answers on his return to the spotlight

While the Tour are yet to confirm what sanctions will be deployed against its growing list of defectors, which Bryson DeChambeau joined on Wednesday and Patrick Reed will soon follow, Mickelson was in little mood for filling in gaps.

Indeed, when asked if he had, or is currently, serving a Tour ban for his comments, he said: 'I choose not to speak publicly on PGA Tour issues at this time.'

He said the same when asked if he would be punished by the Tour for his departure, and kora goal live similar when pushed on how he has come to share a bed with the same people he was once using for leverage.

'I've really enjoyed my time on the PGA Tour,' the six-time major winner put forward.

'I've had some incredible experiences and I have a lot of strong opinions on things that should and could be a lot better. One of the mistakes I've made is voicing those publicly.

So I will really make an effort to keep those conversations behind closed doors.'

Mickelson's reputation is apparently locked on an inverse relationship after an awkward press conference

Mickelson's reputation is apparently locked on an inverse relationship after an awkward press conference

He was only marginally more forthcoming, if less convincing, on the prescient question of whether this migration of talent, and by extension the most controversial development in golf's recent history, was purely about the cash.

'I don't necessarily agree with your premise,' he said.

'But I think the opportunity it provides me to compete, bring the sport throughout the world, play less, have a better balance in life - I know it gives me a lot of positives personally and professionally.'

That virtue of spreading golf 'throughout the world' has been one of the staple answers at this most contentious of breakaway events. 

It certainly seems to have been put forward as a justification, with Graeme McDowell on Tuesday having spoken of golf being a 'force for good'.

Whether that carries weight in balance to Saudi Arabia's human rights record is dubious at best.

From there, he readied himself for a practice round with Lee Westwood (second from right) and the Saudi PIF head Yasir Al-Rumayyan (centre)

From there, he readied himself for a practice round with Lee Westwood (second from right) and the Saudi PIF head Yasir Al-Rumayyan (centre)

Mickelson did speak on the latter, saying: 'I don't condone human rights violations at all.

I'm certainly aware of what has happened with Jamal Khashoggi, and I think it's terrible. I've also seen the good golf has done throughout history, and I believe LIV Golf is going to do a lot of good for the game.'

It was later that he was directly asked about his reputed signing-on fee of £160m for the eight-tournament series.

There was no correction of the sum. 'I feel that contract agreements should be private,' he said. 'Doesn't seem to be the case but it should be.'

From there, he readied himself for a practice round with Lee Westwood and the Saudi PIF head Yasir Al-Rumayyan, who is also chairman of Newcastle United.

If it clicks for him this week, hidden to all bar those who visit YouTube, Facebook and the LIV website, he will pocket more than £3m. Even if it doesn't, he won't be short of a quid.

His future beyond these events remains a mystery, but he will compete at the US Open

His future beyond these events remains a mystery, but he will compete at the US Open

The 51-year-old's future beyond these events remains a mystery, though he will be allowed to contest next week's US Open, and is 'hopeful' the inevitable legal wranglings will not prevent further Ryder Cup involvement.

That could be tied to the remnants of his relationship with the PGA Tour, from which he has not resigned, unlike other major winners including Dustin Johnson, Sergio Garcia, Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel.

'I have been a part of the Tour for over 30 years, and I've had a lot of incredible memories that have been formed and experiences that I've shared,' he said.

'I worked really hard to earn a lifetime exemption and I don't want to give that up. I don't believe I should have to. I don't know what that means for a future.'

It is a sentiment that seems to apply for the whole of elite golf at this moment.