LIV accused of TELLING PORKIES as legal case 'contradicts' Newcastle takeover

The PIF's takeover of Newcastle United is facing fresh scrutiny after court filings from LIV Golf attorneys appear to contradict what was previously stated.

Ben Smith's picture
Thu, 2 Mar 2023
LIV accused of TELLING PORKIES as legal case 'contradicts' Newcastle takeover

LIV Golf were given a huge setback in their legal action against the PGA Tour last week. 

It's hard to keep up, but in case you missed it there has been a flurry of activity. 

A federal judge gave the green light for PGA Tour attorneys to amend their countersuit against LIV Golf to include the breakaway tour's majority backer - the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia - and its governor Yasir Al-Rummayan. 

LIV attorneys, of course, objected to this and were given a deadline to file what is called an amicus brief (seeking relief from the judge's decision). 

Related: Rory McIlroy insists PGA Tour not copying LIV homework

Essentially, they outlined why PGA Tour attorneys shouldn't be allowed to depose Al-Rumayyan and make the PIF produce documents. 

Al-Rumayyan is widely considered to be the 'mastermind' of LIV Golf. PGA Tour attorneys described him as 'the wizard behind the curtain'. 

Attorney and golf reporter John Nucci has picked up on a startling admission in the court documents which will place fresh scrutiny on the PIF's takeover of Premier League football club Newcastle United. 

In 2021, the PIF purchased the club from Mike Ashley. 

That deal was given the green light after Premier League bosses were given "legally binding assurances" that Saudi Arabia would not control the club. 

At the time, British business executive Amanda Staveley - who helped broker the deal - claimed the PIF was "autonomous" and did not operate as part of the wider state. 

Staveley is known for her connections with middle-eastern investors. The controversial $408m takeover was agreed on this basis. 

Al-Rumayyan and Staveley were pictured at Wembley last weekend as Manchester United defeated Newcastle in the Carabao Cup final. 

Per the documents submitted to the court, LIV attorneys argued:

"The order is an extraordinary infringement on the sovereignty of a foreign state that is far from justified here. The PIF and His Excellency Yasir Othman Al Rumayyan are not ordinary third parties subject to basic discovery relevance standards.
"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."

See the document here:

The legal battle began last August when Phil Mickelson and 10 other golfers filed an antitrust lawsuit after they were banned by the PGA Tour for playing in LIV Golf events without releases. 

Mickelson and seven other players dropped out after LIV Golf added themselves as a plaintiff. 

Bryson DeChambeau, Matt Jones and Wade Ormsby remained involved in the litigation. 

The PGA Tour countersued in September, arguing LIV Golf was sportswashing and interfered with player contracts.

Attorneys for the PGA Tour argued: 

"LIV has executed a campaign to pay the LIV Players astronomical sums of money to induce them to breach their contracts with the TOUR in an effort to use the LIV Players and the game of golf to sportswash the recent history of Saudi atrocities and to further the Saudi Public Investment Fund’s Vision 2030 initiatives."

A trial date has been penned for January 2024.

PGA Tour attorneys had requested to delay proceedings even further, given the complexity of the case. 

But a federal judge rejected this and wants to stick to the agreed trial date. 

Meanwhile, on the other side of the pond it has emerged that European LIV players will have to wait even longer to find out their fate. 

A result in the DP World Tour v. LIV Golf hearing was expected two to three weeks after the Feb 6-10 hearing in London. 

But reporting from the DailyMail suggests we could be waiting for up to four months for a decision which will effectively determine if the DP World Tour can ban the 'rebel' players and force them out of automatic Ryder Cup qualifying. 

Next page: Tour pro explains 'what doesn't make sense' to him