Newcastle fan group urges Premier League to investigate Saudi takeover
Newcastle fan group urges Premier League to review £305m takeover and the ‘legally-binding assurances’ that the Saudi state would not control the club… as court documents filed in LIV Golf case say nation’s PIF is a ‘foreign state’
- Saudi Arabia’s PIF took over at Newcastle in October 2021 from Mike Ashley
- They told the Premier League the Saudi state would not control the club
- Court documents describe the club’s chairman as a government minister
A Newcastle fan group has added calls on the Premier League to take another look at assurances from the club’s Saudi owners over who has control of the club.
As reported by Sportsmail on Thursday, a court document in the United States has raised fresh questions about the level of separation between the Saudi state and the Public Investment Fund (PIF) whose governor Yasir Al Rumayyan is also chairman of the Premier League club.
A brief filed in a court case involving the PGA Tour and LIV Golf describes the PIF as ‘a sovereign instrumentality of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’ and Al Rumayyan as a ‘sitting minister of the Saudi government’.
Human rights group Amnesty International urged the Premier League to ask new questions about the £305m takeover of the club, with the governing body having approved the PIF-led takeover in October 2021 after receiving ‘legally-binding’ assurances the Saudi state would not have control of the club.
NUFC Fans Against Sportswashing have now also added their voices to calls for further investigation.
Newcastle chairman Yasir Al Rumayyan is a ‘sitting minister on the Saudi government’, according to a brief filed in a court case involving the PGA Tour and LIV Golf
The Newcastle takeover went through in October 2021, but only after the Premier League had been assured that the Saudi state would not have any control over the club
‘The news that NUFC chair Yasir Al-Rumayyan is claiming in papers submitted to a US court that he and PIF ‘are not ordinary third parties subject to basic discovery relevance standards’ is no surprise to NUFCFAS,’ a statement from the group read.
‘Since the takeover we have said the Premier League should never have allowed the deal to go through as it meant a sovereign state would be in control of Newcastle United. Now we have in black and white what we knew all along.
‘The news means that the ‘legal and binding assurances’ that the PIF gave the Premier League to facilitate the takeover, that the Saudi government would not interfere in the running of the club were not true as it has been admitted in court that Yasir al-Rumayyan is a government minister.
‘The news comes after other figures in the Saudi dictatorship are starting to feel confident enough to associate themselves publicly with Newcastle United.
‘NUFCFAS urges fan groups and the North East’s political representatives to break their pact of silence and speak up now and put pressure on the Premier League to review the present ownership of Newcastle United as they are clearly not fit and proper and their assurances that the Saudi government would have no role in running the club are now being exposed as false.’
A Newcastle fan group has urged the Premier League to review the club’s £305m takeover
Premier League chief executive Richard Masters declined to comment on the matter after his on-stage appearance at the Financial Times Business of Football Summit in London on Thursday.
The document filed on Tuesday, which was seen by the PA news agency, stated: ‘The order is an extraordinary infringement on the sovereignty of a foreign state that is far from justified here.
‘The PIF and His Excellency Yasir Othman Al Rumayyan are not ordinary third parties subject to basic discovery relevance standards.
‘They are a sovereign instrumentality of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and a sitting minister of the Saudi government, and they cannot be compelled to provide testimony and documents in a US proceeding unless their conduct – not LIV’s or anyone else’s – is truly the ‘gravamen’ of the case.’
The PIF is chaired by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman.
Newcastle also appointed Mrs Asmaa Mohammed Rezeeq as a director last week, and it is understood that she is a global investments professional with the PIF.
Newcastle were contacted for comment on Sportmail’s report on Thursday while the Premier League has declined to comment.
Premier League chief executive Richard Masters has previously said his organisation can ‘remove the consortium as owners of the club’ if they find evidence of state involvement
The PIF has also declined to comment. It is understood to have given legal undertakings to the Premier League that the fund, and not the Saudi state, has control over Newcastle.
The PIF initially withdrew from its takeover bid for the club in July 2020 as a result of an ‘unforeseeably prolonged process’.
But the deal was resurrected, with the Premier League confirming it had approved the takeover on October 7, 2021 and adding: ‘The Premier League has now received legally binding assurances that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will not control Newcastle United Football Club.’
The dispute had centred over who would have controlling influence of the club, and should therefore be subject to the league’s owners’ and directors’ test.
Premier League chief executive Richard Masters told the BBC in November 2021 that if his organisation found evidence there was state involvement in the running of the club ‘we can remove the consortium as owners of the club’.
Newcastle have enjoyed a positive campaign under their new owners, with the team in contention for Champions League qualification and having reached their first Wembley final since 1999 in the Carabao Cup.
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