It has led to Amnesty International calling for the league to re-examine the assurances given by Newcastle’s owners that the Saudi state would not have control of the club, the Guardian reported.
There is dismay from the majority of clubs in the division who, the Guardian understands, will write to the league to outline their concerns. They want the matter to be an agenda item at the next shareholders’ meeting on 30 March so that it can be discussed in detail.
The document filed this week raised fresh questions about the level of separation between the Saudi state and the Public Investment Fund (PIF), which bought an 80% stake in Newcastle in October 2021 and whose governor is Rumayyan.
A brief filed in a court case involving the PGA Tour and LIV Golf describes the PIF as “a sovereign instrumentality of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia” and Rumayyan as “a sitting minister of the Saudi government”.
The arrival of new billionaire owners was always likely to upset clubs who saw on the horizon a far more competitive Newcastle and the prospect of the wealth at St James’ Park inflating transfer fees and wages.
Since the takeover Newcastle have spent a net £241m on permanent signings. Under Eddie Howe they are fifth in the league and reached the Carabao Cup final, which they lost to Manchester United.
Many clubs were frustrated by the lack of communication over the Newcastle takeover, which led to their forcing out the league’s then chairman, Gary Hoffman. More broadly, there has long been a determination to ensure financial fair play or profit and sustainability rules are enforced.
The PIF is chaired by the Saudi prime minister, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, with eight of the nine PIF board members listed on the fund’s website as being a government minister or royal adviser. Rumayyan is the exception. Yet it is inconceivable that the league did not know he was a minister when it sanctioned the takeover – not least because the PIF’s law documents make it clear that the governor must hold the rank of government minister.