Premier League is under fire to re-investigate Newcastle’s takeover following allegations in a US court that the club’s owner is a member of the Saudi government.
In October 2021, Premier League executives approved the contentious £300 million takeover of Newcastle United after claiming to have “legally binding assurances” that the Saudi government did not own the team.
But after shocking findings in a US court lawsuit in the acrimonious golf dispute between the Saudi-funded LIV Tour and the PGA, such promises were called into question.
Lawyers for Saudi Public Investment Fund and Newcastle chairman Yasir Al-Rumayyan acknowledged their clients were Saudi government officials in an effort to avoid having to testify.
Attorneys for LIV stated: “PIF and His Excellency Yasir 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.”
“Thus they cannot be compelled to provide testimony and documents in a US proceeding.”
Judge Susan van Kaplan dismissed such arguments and ruled in favor of the PGA, requiring the Saudis to testify under oath in a deposition.
More importantly, it appears that the arguments put forth by LIV’s legal staff run counter to the arguments used by the Premier League to support the Newcastle contract.
Rivals of the Premier League are incensed that the league was powerless to stop the deal in the first place, and this has incensed them.
Before the ownership assurances were made, questions about “whose entities would own and/or have the authority to run the club” were brought up during the final negotiations between Premier League executives and the Saudi Public Investment Fund.
Richard Masters, the CEO of Premier League at the time, additionally insisted: “If we find evidence to the contrary we can remove the consortium as owners of the club in accordance with the rules.”
“That is understood. There are ways of ensuring we are comfortable and satisfied and that remains the case.”
After the legal actions in a court in California, Masters will now receive requests from competing Premier League clubs to decide whether he must interfere.
Rival club presidents responded with shock and rage and are now anticipating action from Masters and Premier League leaders.
One club manager stated: “This looks like a complete reversal of the position we were told was the reason the deal was approved.”
“Surely the Premier League has to get involved here and look at this issue again.”
Yet, the demands for action worry Newcastle supporters only days after their 2-0 Carabao Cup final loss to Manchester United, which was their first cup final in 24 years.
The Toon board publicly expressed “thanks” in an open letter to supporters, many of whom assisted with cleanup after congregating in Trafalgar Square before the game.
The board declared: “The scenes around Wembley and inside the stadium on Sunday were remarkable and beyond inspiring.”
“We could not have asked for any more from you. That connection and sense of family is part of our identity.”
“Our ambitions are strengthened by this experience and it will only make us even more determined as we move forward.”
Newcastle United In The Premier League After Saudi Takeover
The Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF), PCP Capital Partners, and the Reuben Brothers formed a group in order to acquire Newcastle United F.C. in 2021.
The takeover process started in April 2020 and was successfully completed in October 2021.
Following allegations of undue influence from the Qatari-owned beIN Sports (with whom Saudi Arabia has strained bilateral relations) and rival clubs to Newcastle United, the takeover process gained notoriety for allegations of improper conduct against the Premier League through a purported deliberate misapplication of its Owners’ and Directors’ test to block the deal.
Further extensive discussions about fan privacy, the Premier League’s impact, UK-Saudi Arabia relations, and suspected sportswashing followed.
The takeover procedure lasted 18 months and was finished in October 2021 after involvement from the governments of Saudi Arabia and Qatar as well as the then-Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Boris Johnson.
The majority of Newcastle United supporters argued that the takeover would enable greater investment in the Tyneside region, which has historically experienced underdevelopment, while supporters of the takeover claimed opposition to the deal was motivated by racism toward Saudi Arabia and pointed to the lack of controversy surrounding other, comparable takeovers.
The majority of football supporters, according to a UK-wide survey, did not believe the takeover had a negative impact on the sport.
Others mentioned the potential for closer diplomatic ties between the UK and Saudi Arabia, the likelihood of Saudi Arabia placing more emphasis on grassroots soccer, and a decline in Islamophobia in the UK.