Newcastle United face fresh government scrutiny, but Premier League chief 'cannot really comment' on if Saudi ownership is being re-examined

Newcastle United stadium, St James' Park: General view inside the stadium prior to the Premier League match between Newcastle United and West Ham United at St. James Park on April 17, 2021 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. Sporting stadiums around the UK remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors.
(Image credit: David Rogers/Getty Images)

Newcastle United and its ownership have been the subject of fresh government scrutiny, with a parliament committee asking Premier League chief executive Richard Masters if Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund (PIF) will be re-examined.

PIF took over Newcastle in October 2021, approved by the Premier League after "legally binding assurances" the Saudi government wouldn't have any control in the club. 

That has been called into question at a parliament committee, though, after lawyers representing LIV Golf - also owned by the PIF - in a US court case last month described Newcastle chairman and PIF Governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan as "a sitting minister of the government" with "sovereign immunity".

Masters was asked about the statements at the parliament committee on Tuesday by Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) select committee member Clive Efford MP, but he refused to comment on the matter. 

"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.

"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."

If the Premier League is investigating the ownership at Newcastle United, and the Saudi government is believed to have control over the club, then PIF could theoretically be removed. Indeed, the Saudi Arabian government would therefore be subject to the league's owners' and directors' test. 

Previously, Masters has stated: "We can remove the consortium as owners of the club", if there is evidence of state involvement in the running of Newcastle. 

Newcastle director Amanda Stavely denies any state involvement, though. 

She told the BBC: "PIF is an autonomous, commercially-driven investment fund."

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Ryan Dabbs
Staff writer

Ryan is a staff writer for FourFourTwo, joining the team full-time in October 2022. He first joined Future in December 2020, working across FourFourTwo, Golf Monthly, Rugby World and Advnture's websites, before eventually earning himself a position with FourFourTwo permanently. After graduating from Cardiff University with a degree in Journalism and Communications, Ryan earned a NCTJ qualification to further develop as a writer while a Trainee News Writer at Future.