Following the filing of a new US court document, the Premier League has been urged to re-examine Newcastle’s Saudi owners’ assurances that the Middle East state would not control the club. This week’s filing raised questions about the Saudi state’s relationship with the Public Investment Fund (PIF), whose governor Yasir Al Rumayyan is Newcastle’s chairman.
Amnesty International urges Premier League to investigate Newcastle’s Saudi ties
The PIF is “a sovereign instrumentality of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia” and Al Rumayyan is “a sitting minister of the Saudi government,” according to a PGA Tour-LIV Golf court brief. After “legally-binding assurances” that the Saudi state would not control Newcastle, the Premier League approved the PIF-led takeover in October 2021.
Amnesty International now wants the league to question Newcastle’s owners. Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman chairs the PIF, which has eight ministers and royal advisors on its board. Al Rumayyan is the only exception, but the court document calls him a minister.
Frankental added: “In the 18 months since the Newcastle purchase, the human rights situation in Saudi Arabia has deteriorated markedly, with scores of executions after unfair trials, courts jailing peaceful critics, and the authorities continuing to block accountability for Jamal Khashoggi’s murder.”
Newcastle and the Premier League are silent. In November 2021, league chief executive Richard Masters said the consortium could be removed as owners if his organization found state involvement in the club’s operations. The PIF also declined comment.
It gave legal guarantees to the Premier League that the club would not be state-controlled. The PIF is contesting a LIV Golf case order to produce documents and testify. “The order is an extraordinary infringement on the sovereignty of a foreign state that is far from justified here,” reads a February 28 PA document.