Saudis Recruit Top Lawyer In Anticipation Of Rumoured Golf League

Senior FA Executive, Polly Handford, will team up with the Saudi Golf League as the possibility of legal action becomes more likely

Norman at a press conference
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The head-to-head surrounding the breakaway the Saudi Golf League and the PGA and DP World Tours took yet another turn this week after it was announced that Saudi Arabia’s golf chiefs have recruited one of sport's top lawyers in anticipation of any legal battles.

It is alleged that the Saudis are luring golf's leading stars by offering shares of a massive £1.5 billion pot, with the likes of Bryson DeChambeau reportedly being offered £100 million to be the face of the new breakaway league - although he has recently denied this.

As a result of the offers, the PGA and DP World Tours are to step in to avoid losing their stars, with sanctions such as lifetime bans and exclusions from Major championships and Ryder Cups reportedly being threatened.

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Due to the sanctions being put in place, the Saudis have signalled their intent by poaching a senior FA executive. Polly Handford, the head of legal and governance at the FA and a former RFU employee, will work alongside Greg Norman, the chief executive of LIV Golf Investments (the company set up to push the new competition), to fight any attempt by golf’s major tours to ban top players who sign up for the breakaway league.

Handford is considered a leading force in British sporting legal circles and, according to The Times, has been offered a significant pay rise to leave the Football Association where she has worked as their Director of Legal and Governance.

Norman and Mickelson chat

Greg Norman and Phil Mickelson chat at the 2022 Saudi International

(Image credit: Getty Images)

It has been reported that Bryson DeChambeau has been offered a staggering £100 million. Whilst, according to the Daily Telegraph , Ian Poulter has  been offered up to $30m to join the breakaway leaguewith the likes of Dustin Johnson and Lee Westwood stating they have signed NDAs.

The Daily Mail has also claimed that five 'future Ryder Cup captains' allegedly sit on £20 million signing-on proposals, with Phil Mickelson launching a scathing attack on the PGA Tour, stating that the organisations greed is "beyond obnoxious”.

Mickelson, who said at a press conference on Wednesday that “Pretty much every player in the top 100 has been contacted at some point,” has, arguably, been the man most closely associated—publicly at least—with the aforementioned SGL. He also commented that: "Players don’t have access to their own media" and that the PGA Tour have "access to his shots, which he doesn't have", reportedly being "forced to pay the Tour $1 million each time for his own media rights."

Matt Cradock
Matt Cradock

Matt studied Sports Journalism at Southampton Solent University, graduating in 2019. Now a freelance writer for Golf Monthly and the PGA, he covers all aspects of the game, from Tour news to equipment testing and buyers’ guides. Taking up the game at the age of six, Matt currently holds a handicap of 3 and despite not having a hole in one…yet, he has had two albatrosses. His favourite player is Rory McIlroy, despite nearly being struck by his second shot at the 17th during the 2015 BMW PGA Championship.