Monahan and Al-Rumayyan meet in person but the timing couldn’t have been much worse

Mark McGowan
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PIF Governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Mark McGowan

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According to reports in the Sports Business Journal, Jay Monahan is in Saudi Arabia for talks with Public Investment Fund Governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan as both sides look to move closer to a deal that would see the PIF come on board and help bring men’s professional golf back together.

The in-person meetings, believed to be their first since the shock June 6 announcement that the warring factions had pledged to bury the hatchet, comes on the back of a reported lengthy phone conversation last week, which again is believed to be the first time they’d spoken since June, and reportedly yielded significant advancement towards a firm agreement.

Unfortunately, the meeting couldn’t have come at a worse time as The Athletic virtually simultaneously broke a story reporting that the PIF Governor is one of several parties being sued by the family of the country’s former intelligence chief, Dr Saad Aljabri, for allegedly “having carried out the instructions” of the Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, with “the malicious intent” of “harming, silencing and ultimately destroying.”

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Legal documents were delivered to Al-Rumayyan at the PIF’s headquarters in Saudi Arabia, as well as PIF addresses in New York and London, and at Newcastle United’s headquarters, St James’ Park, where Al-Rumayyan is the club’s chairman.

Bin Nayef was heir to the Saudi throne before being deposed by Bin Salman in a 2017 coup and has been in detention since 2020. Aljabri left the country in 2017, first going to Turkey and then moving on to Canada, with the legal case being presented to the Canadian courts.

It is being claimed that the defendants, of which Al-Rumayyan is one, were “directly involved” in a three-and-a-half year campaign, starting in June 2017 and proceeding through January 2021, to relentlessly pursue the family of Aljabri, extending to “wrongful kidnapping and detention”, “misappropriation of property” and the “expropriation” of companies worth hundreds of millions of dollars into the hands of the PIF.

Whether or not the legal case has any merit or will have any bearing on the negotiations is yet to be seen, however it is yet another instance of politics and sport crossing over, and the level of separation between the Saudi state and the Public Investment Fund, something that was paramount for the Premier League allowing the Newcastle United takeover, comes into question.

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