EPL News: EPL chief Richard Masters 'can't' say if Saudi ownership being re-examined

In EPL news, Newcastle's takeover by Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund (PIF) was approved after "legally binding assurances".

Avignyan Mukhopadhyay
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In EPL news, Newcastle's takeover by Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund (PIF) was approved after "legally binding assurances" the Saudi government would not have any control over the club.

However, in a US court case, documents published last month described the PIF as "a sovereign instrumentality of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia" and PIF Governor and Newcastle chairman Yasir Al-Rumayyan as "a sitting minister of the government" with "sovereign immunity".

The statements were made by lawyers representing LIV Golf, owned by the PIF, which also has a controlling stake in Newcastle.

Masters was asked about the documents by Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) select committee member Clive Efford MP on Tuesday

"I can't really comment on it," said Masters.

"I mean, even to the point of saying, 'Is the Premier League investigating it?', we can't really comment on it.

EPL News: Newcastle | Sportz Point.

Premier League chief executive Richard Masters watched a match in January alongside Newcastle director Amanda Staveley (Image-BBC)

"Obviously we are completely aware. And you're correct about the general nature of the undertakings that we received at the point of takeover. But I can't really go into it at all.

"The time when the Premier League comments publicly on regulatory issues is when it's charged, and at the end of the process when an independent panel has decided whether any rule breaches have actually taken place. The investigatory process, we don't talk about at all."

EPL News broke, when San Francisco court approved the PGA Tour's request to include Al-Rumayyan and the PIF as defendants in its lawsuit against LIV and ordered them to produce documents in the case.

However, the PIF challenged the order, arguing the fund and its governor Al-Rumayyan "are not ordinary third parties subject to basic discovery relevance standards".

"The order is an extraordinary infringement on the sovereignty of a foreign state that is far from justified here," a court document read.

"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 initially withdrew from its takeover bid for Newcastle in July 2020 as a result of an "unforeseeably prolonged process", before the deal was revived.

The takeover was only approved in October 2021 after the Premier League received "legally binding assurances" that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia would not have any control over the club.

The dispute had centred over who would have controlling influence of Newcastle, and would therefore be subject to the league's owners' and directors' test.

In EPL news also, Masters told the BBC in November 2021 that if his organisation found evidence there was state involvement in the running of Newcastle "we can remove the consortium as owners of the club".

The same year, Newcastle director Amanda Staveley told the BBC that the PIF was an "autonomous, commercially-driven investment fund."

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