Why LIV Golf Court Case Could Force The Premier League To Remove Newcastle United's Owners

The LIV Golf court case with the PGA Tour could have Newcastle in trouble after describing the owners as part of the Saudi government

Newcastle chairman and LIV Golf chief Yasir Al-Rumayyan
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The continuing legal battles between the PGA Tour and LIV Golf may have some huge unforeseen consequences on the other side of the Atlantic with Premier League side Newcastle United’s Saudi ownership now called into question.


The takeover of Newcastle involving Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund (PIF) was only approved by the Premier League after "legal assurances" were given that the Saudi government would not be involved.

However, a court case involving the PGA Tour and LIV Golf could have possibly thrown new light on the situation after lawyers for the PIF and governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan challenged a ruling for them to make documents available for discovery on the grounds that it infringed “the sovereignty of a foreign state.”

Having Newcastle chairman Al-Rumayyan described as "a sitting minister of the government" with "sovereign immunity" in a court case could alter the Premier League’s stance and call the entire takeover into question.

Al-Rumayyan and the PIF "are not ordinary third parties subject to basic discovery relevance standards" read a court document.

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

"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 revelations led to Amnesty International calling for the Premier League to re-examine the assurances Amanda Staveley and the ownership group made to them that the Saudi Arabian government would not be involved in running Newcastle United Football Club.

Under Premier League rules, nation states and governments cannot have a direct role in running a football club, which was a major sticking point to the deal going through in the first place.

Now the LIV Golf court case may have blown a huge hole in the arguments from the Saudi PIF, with the Premier League even able to remove the ownership if those legally binding assurances around government involvement are proven to be false.

"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 as saying by the BBC.

"There's an unmistakable irony in the sovereign wealth fund declaration emerging in a dispute about another arm of Saudi Arabia's growing sports empire, but the simple fact is that Saudi sportswashing is affecting numerous sports and governing bodies need to respond to it far more effectively.

"The Premier League will surely need to re-examine the assurances made about the non-involvement of the Saudi authorities in the Newcastle deal.”

While the golfing world is suffering from the fractious split in the sport and the battles between the PGA Tour and LIV Golf, it come be that even the Premier League football world is rocked due to the fallout from the ongoing court case.

Paul Higham

Paul Higham is a sports journalist with over 20 years of experience in covering most major sporting events for both Sky Sports and BBC Sport. He is currently freelance and covers the golf majors on the BBC Sport website.  Highlights over the years include covering that epic Monday finish in the Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor and watching Rory McIlroy produce one of the most dominant Major wins at the 2011 US Open at Congressional. He also writes betting previews and still feels strangely proud of backing Danny Willett when he won the Masters in 2016 - Willett also praised his putting stroke during a media event before the Open at Hoylake. Favourite interviews he's conducted have been with McIlroy, Paul McGinley, Thomas Bjorn, Rickie Fowler and the enigma that is Victor Dubuisson. A big fan of watching any golf from any tour, sadly he spends more time writing about golf than playing these days with two young children, and as a big fair weather golfer claims playing in shorts is worth at least five shots. Being from Liverpool he loves the likes of Hoylake, Birkdale and the stretch of tracks along England's Golf Coast, but would say his favourite courses played are Kingsbarns and Portrush.