Newcastle chairman described as 'Saudi minister' in court case
The ownership of Newcastle United has been called into question after after club chairman Yasir Al-Rumayyan was described in a US court case as a "sitting Saudi minister".
Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund's (PIF) 2021 takeover of Newcastle was allowed to proceed after the league received "legally binding assurances" that the kingdom would not hold any control over the club.
However, a filing in a US court case involving PIF-owned Liv Golf and the PGA Tour on Tuesday argued that the fund and its chairman are "not ordinary third parties". The filing sought to block a court order for documents.
"The PIF and His Excellency Yasir Othman al-Rumayyan are not ordinary third parties subject to basic discovery relevance standards," the document was quoted by The Guardian as saying.
"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."
In November, Premier League chief executive Richard Masters told the BBC that the league can remove the consortium as owners of the club if evidence of state running of the club were to be found.
"It was always stretching credulity to breaking point to imagine that the Saudi state wasn't directing the buyout of Newcastle with the ultimate aim of using the club as a component in its wider sportswashing efforts," Peter Frankental, Amnesty International's UK economic affairs director, was quoted by the BBC as saying.
"The Premier League will surely need to re-examine the assurances made about the non-involvement of the Saudi authorities in the Newcastle deal," he added.
A club reborn after its Saudi-backed takeover, Newcastle partook in its first cup final of the century in February, and could also end the season with Champions League qualification.
However, accusations of Saudi sportswashing have dogged the club's recent success, with critics arguing that the team have been used to improve the kingdom's image.