The news that Newcastle chairman Al-Rumayyan is facing a $74mn lawsuit in Canada for “carrying out” malicious instructions of Bin Salman is a serious development and should give pause for serious thought to everyone who loves the club.
Adam Crafton reported in the Athletic that Yasir Al-Rumayyan, the chairman of Newcastle United and LIV Golf, faces being sued for allegedly “having carried out the instructions” of the Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS), with “the malicious intent” of “harming, silencing and ultimately destroying” the family of the country’s former intelligence chief, Dr Saad Aljabri.
The claim Aljabri hopes to bring against Al-Rumayyan will, if the Canadian court grants permission, allege that defendants including Al-Rumayyan were “directly involved” in a three-and-a-half-year campaign between June 2017 and January 2021 to pursue the family of Saad Aljabri.
His family’s proposed case against Al-Rumayyan accuses both the Newcastle chairman and Al-Sheik, who is a PIF board member and a Saudi Minister of State, of “direct” involvement in a litany of allegations. These include taking steps to orchestrate an alleged campaign which include “wrongful kidnapping and detention”, “misappropriation of property” and the “expropriation” of companies worth hundreds of millions of dollars into PIF hands. These steps, the papers allege, were taken for “political reasons” and at the service of the Saudi Crown Prince, MBS.
The PIF and the Saudi regime
At the time of the Saudi takeover of the club it was claimed the PIF was separate from the regime and MBS would have no influence. As we pointed out at the time, Bin Salman appointed Al-Rumayyan personally to his position in the PIF: “Bin Salman increasingly wanted Al-Rumayyan by his side. He bought Al-Rumayyan a house worth 250 million Saudi riyals (over $60m) near the presidential palace, while the two began spending long periods of time together beyond official meetings.”
“…he’s loyal, and MBS trusts him.”
So it was no surprise that in 2023 Yasir al-Rumayyan claimed in papers submitted to a US court that he and PIF ‘are not ordinary third parties subject to basic discovery relevance standards’.
The ‘legal and binding assurances’ that the PIF gave the Premier league to facilitate the takeover, that the Saudi government would not interfere in the running of the club were not true as it was admitted in court that Yasir al-Rumayyan is a Saudi government minister.
The Premier League should never have allowed the deal to go through as it meant a sovereign state would be in control of Newcastle United. Premier League CEO, Richard Masters ‘couldn’t say’ in May 2023 if the Premier League was investigating the Saudi ownership of the club. The latest revelations in Canadian court papers about the real role of Al-Rumayyan in the Saudi regime should lead to Masters and the Premier League to review the ownership of the club.
Roman Abramovich was declared unfit to own Chelsea Football Club because of his links to Vladimr Putin. Surely the revelations and role of Al-Rumayyan in the Saudi dictatorship make him also unfit to be chairman of a football club?
While many Newcastle fans will claim that criticisms of Al-Rumayyan have nothing to do with the football club, he is Newcastle United Chairman and our great club should not be associated with someone accused of “direct” involvement in a vengeful campaign for “political reasons” at the service of the Crown Prince.
Local mainstream media have not taken an investigative stance regarding the Saudi owners of the club which means Newcastle fans are not fully aware of who runs the club. It has left to the national and alternative media to spell out the truth about Saudi regime figures such as Al-Rumayyan.
The pending Canadian court case for the NUFC chairman means yet again we have in black and white what was known all along and should have been reported in the North East. Allowing a bloody dictatorship to take over an important historical and community asset like Newcastle United was always going to end badly.
It is time for North East MPs and councillors and official fan groups to make a clear stand on the 80% owners of Newcastle United.
NUFCFAS is calling on Yasir al-Rumayyan to resign as Chairman of Newcastle United Football club. We cannot allow a leading figure in the Saudi regime and close confidante of Mohahmed Bin Salman to continue to bring disrepute to our club.
We also urge political representatives on Tyneside and fan groups in Newcastle and nationally to support a transparent review of the ownership of Newcastle United to decide if the Saudi dictatorship really are fit and proper owners of a football club.
In the long run nation state ownership of football needs to be prohibited. Human rights abusing states using our clubs to sportswash their images has to end.