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Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Premier League investigating Newcastle’s Saudi-led takeover – Aston Villa chief

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Aston Villa chief executive Christian Purslow says he thinks the Premier League is investigating Newcastle’s Saudi-led takeover.

The league gave the green light to the takeover which gave the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF) majority control of Newcastle after receiving “legally-binding assurances” that the Saudi state would not have control of the club.

However, court documents published in the United States in February 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 Saudi government”.

The documents appeared to raise fresh questions over the link between the PIF and the Saudi state.

Premier League chief executive Richard Masters did not comment on whether his organisation was investigating the takeover following the publication of those documents when he faced a Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee last month.

However, Purslow is confident the league are looking into it.

Premier League chief executive Richard Masters attended a DCMS committee hearing last month (House of Commons)

“I think they are (investigating),” he told Sky News.

“If there is a contradiction in representation made at the time of the takeover, as to the nature of the relationship between the rulers of that country – the sovereign wealth fund and Newcastle – of course, the Premier League, I’m sure, are investigating that.”

Masters told MPs last month: “Obviously we are completely aware (of the US court documents). 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.”

Purslow said the backing of foreign governments to clubs represented “a clear and present danger” to the league.

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