Richard Masters admits the Premier League is “fully aware” of documents filed in a US court alleging the Saudi Public Investment Fund is a “foreign country”, but refuses to comment on whether the Newcastle takeover is under review.
- The Saudi Public Investment Fund took over in Newcastle in October 2021 from Mike Ashley
- They told the Premier League that the Saudi state would not take control of the club
- Court documents described the club’s president as a government minister
Premier League chief executive Richard Masters admits they are “fully aware” of court documents describing the Saudi Public Investment Fund as a sovereign body, amid growing calls for an investigation into the Newcastle United takeover.
The English Premier League has agreed to acquire Newcastle for 305 million pounds in 2021, and the Public Investment Fund has become an 80 percent shareholder in the club.
The approval was granted after the Premier League announced that it had received Assurances that Newcastle will not be under the control of the Saudi state.
However, a brief filed in a court case involving the PGA Tour and LIV Golf described the Public Investment Fund as “a sovereign instrument of Saudi Arabia”.
PIF Governor Yasser Al-Rumayyan, who is Newcastle’s chairman, has also been described as “a current minister in the Saudi government”.
Richard Masters said the Premier League was aware of the documents filed in the Leaf case
Newcastle chairman Yasser Al-Rumayyan was described as a “sitting minister” in the court file
The Premier League said it had “legally binding assurances” that Saudi Arabia would not take over Newcastle
Masters was questioned by MPs on the issue, after he told the BBC in 2021 that he had been given “legally binding assurances” that the rulers of Saudi Arabia would not be in control of Newcastle.
The Premier League chief said the organization was “fully aware” of the issue, but was unable to comment on whether Newcastle’s takeover was the subject of a review.
“I can’t really comment on it, even to the point of saying ‘does it achieve the Premier League’, we can’t really comment on it,” Masters said.
Obviously, we are fully aware of that.
You’re right about the general nature of the pledges we received at the point of acquisition, but I can’t really go into them at all.
The only time the Premier League has commented publicly on regulatory issues is when it is charged and at the end of the process when an independent panel decides whether any breaches of the rules have occurred.
“The investigative process we don’t talk about at all.”
The Public Investment Fund funded LIV Golf’s controversial series of advocacy events and has been asked to provide documents in a US lawsuit between the PGA Tour and LIV Golf.
LIV argues in the case that the PIF should not be forced to hand over the papers because: ‘It is an extraordinary infringement of the sovereignty of a foreign country that is far from justified here. The Public Investment Fund and His Excellency Yasser Othman Al-Rumayyan are not ordinary parties subject to the relevant basic discovery criteria.
They are a sovereign instrument of Saudi Arabia and a current minister in the Saudi government, and cannot be compelled to testify and document in US proceedings unless their behavior—and not that of the LIV or anyone else—is really ‘the issue.’
The submission led to renewed calls for the Premier League to investigate the Newcastle takeover.
Court filings in the LIV Golf lawsuit alleged that the PIF is a tool of the Saudi state
Newcastle are in the final of the Carabao Cup and are challenging for a top four spot this season
The assurances received by the Premier League led to the approval of a takeover in 2021, which was blocked the previous year.
The English Premier League claimed that it was satisfied that there was a sufficient institutional difference between the Public Investment Fund and the state of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, which in 2020 was drawing the attention of the English Premier League for hacking its foreign coverage.
Masters had previously claimed that if the Premier League found evidence of government involvement in the running of the club “we could remove the consortium as owners of the club”.
Newcastle enjoyed a successful season with the club in contention for qualification to the UEFA Champions League, as well as reaching the final of the Carabao Cup.