It’s hardly surprising that the Public Investment Fund, which purchased Newcastle United in October 2021, could be closer than previously anticipated. After all, they’ve been considered the same outside of official circles for the past 16 months. Yet, seeing it in black and white gives the Premier League pause. According to court records in a lawsuit between the PGA Tour and LIV Golf in the US, Newcastle chairman Yasir al-Rumayyan is “a sitting minister of the Saudi government.” PIF is “a sovereign instrumentality of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia”.
The Premier League’s Newcastle sale is another regulatory tangle
With the exception of the context, none of this is unusual. Public Investment Funds require the government to participate in their investments. The Premier League gave its approval after getting “legally binding assurances. It was that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will not control Newcastle United Football Club,” which is exceptional. Due to confidentiality constraints, the Premier League has never made any “legally binding pledges” public. But, these assurances were required for a specific reason, not to prevent state ownership from entering the league.
Following the announcement of the merger, beIN officials put pressure on Premier League and British government officials to reject it. Saudi Arabia banned beIN following a diplomatic spat in 2017, but beoutQ started immediately after. The new station claimed to be supported by a Colombian and Cuban partnership. But the Premier League and other major sports organizations traced beoutQ’s signal back to ArabSat, whose key investor is Saudi Arabia.
Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman chairs the PIF, which is comprised of eight government officials or royal advisers. The only one not in one of those roles is Newcastle chairman Yasir al-Rumayyan. Although a document submitted in a court action involving the PGA Tour. LIV Golf called the PIF “a sovereign instrumentality of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia” and Rumayyan “a serving minister of the Saudi government”.