The DP World Tour, previously known as the European Tour, has won in arbitration against members of the LIV Golf series, after players had appealed following the European Tour’s decision to discipline them for wanting to play in the inaugural event of the breakaway golf league.
Sport Resolutions, a UK-based arbitration and mediation group, upheld the DP World Tour’s conflicting tournament release regulation and its ability to sanction members who breached it.
The decision was made Monday, and the result was announced Thursday. The case was heard by a three-person panel. Appeals brought by the players have been dismissed, and the £100,000 fines originally imposed must now be paid within 30 days.
Ian Poulter and two other players had appealed when they were denied a release to play in the first LIV Golf event in London in July last year. More players subsequently had joined the appeal.
Sport Resolutions said the panel “ultimately found that the Appellants committed serious breaches of the Code of Behaviour of the DPWT Regulations by playing in the LIV Golf Invitational (London) and LIV Portland events respectively, despite their release requests having been refused.”
DP World Tour chief executive Keith Pelley said in a statement released Thursday: “We welcome today’s decision by Sport Resolutions which upholds our regulations and our ability to administer them.
“We are delighted that the panel recognised we have a responsibility to our full membership to do this and also determined that the process we followed was fair and proportionate.
“In deciding the level of these sanctions last June, we were simply administering the regulations which were created by our members and which each of them signed up to.
“It is, of course, regrettable that resources, both financial and staffing, which could have been otherwise deployed across our organisation, have been impacted by this lengthy arbitration process.
“However, with the clarity provided by today’s decision, we look forward to continuing to focus on our 2023 global schedule, whilst also continuing to plan for 2024 with the valued support of our many partners and stakeholders.
“We will now carefully consider the details of today’s decision with our Board, our Tournament Committee and our legal advisors and take the appropriate action in due course.”
Following the decision, LIV Golf’s counsel, Matthew Schwartz of Gibson Dunn, issued a statement.
“We disagree with the procedural opinion from the DP World Tour’s arbitral body, which has failed to address in reasonable substance why competitive forces must be upheld. By punishing players for playing golf, the DPWT is seeking to unreasonably control players and it is the sport and fans that suffer. There are no winners.
“This is a sacred week in the global sports calendar and the on-course competition is what matters. LIV remains focused on its decades-long vision to enhance the game and is looking forward to its upcoming tournament in Australia in front of 70,000 fans.”
Sport Resolutions said that Poulter, Adrian Otaegui and Justin Harding made the initial appeal in July, and the three received a stay pending the outcome.
Appeals were later issued by Lee Westwood, Sam Horsfield, Richard Bland, Shaun Norris, Laurie Canter, Wade Ormsby, Patrick Reed, Bernd Weisburger, Graeme McDowell, Sergio Garcia, Charl Schwartzel, Branden Grace and Martin Kaymer.
In January, Garcia, Schwartzel, Grace and Otaegui withdrew their appeals. The hearing was held in February in London.