Saudi consortium completes buyout of Newcastle United football club

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A Saudi Arabian-backed consortium finalized the purchase of Premier League club Newcastle United on Thursday, as a long saga of takeovers finally reached the conclusion desired by the majority of the club’s supporters.

Fourteen months after Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) withdrew a £ 305million ($ 415.07million) offer to buy the northeastern club from owner Mike Ashley following the The Premier League’s failure to give regulatory approval, a deal was announced after a day of mounting excitement at Tyneside.

After the Premier League confirmed that the ailing club had been sold to a consortium made up of PIF, PCP Capital Partners and RB Sports & Media with immediate effect, fans started celebrating outside St James’ Park.

A statement from Yasir Al-Rumayyan, PIF governor who will become non-executive chairman of Newcastle United, said the deal would mean a long-term investment to “harness the club’s potential and build on the club’s legacy”.

“We are extremely proud to become the new owners of Newcastle United, one of the most famous clubs in English football. We thank the Newcastle fans for their extremely loyal support over the years and we are delighted to be working with them, ”he said.

The buyout, led by PCP Capital Partners Managing Director Amanda Staveley, ends an unhappy era at St James’ Park and means Newcastle will be one of the richest clubs in the world.

Staveley will sit on the Newcastle Board of Directors with Jamie Reuben of RB Sports & Media.

“This is a long-term investment,” Staveley said in a statement. “Our ambition is aligned with the fans – to create a consistently strong team that regularly competes for major trophies and generates pride across the world.”

Rapid developments

A rapid streak of events revived the deal after Qatar-based broadcaster beIN Sports, the Premier League rights holder, said on Wednesday that Saudi Arabia would lift its ban and also shut down illegal streaming services, removing a major obstacle behind the collapsed takeover. .

Another hurdle was overcome after the Premier League, which came under pressure to block the deal last year, received “legally binding” assurances that there was a clear separation between the PIF and the UK. Saudi Arabia, although the PIF is chaired by the Saudi Crown Prince. Mohammed ben Salman.

“All parties are happy to have concluded this process which gives certainty and clarity to Newcastle United Football Club and their fans,” said the Premier League.

The fate of Newcastle coach Steve Bruce will be high on the agenda of new owners keen to invest in the club.

“I know everyone has a lot of questions about managers and players and everything, but right now we just want to get there and do a review of the company. We’ll let you all know about the plans, ”Staveley told reporters after the deal was announced.

Hundreds of Newcastle’s Toon Army supporters, who protested Ashley’s management of the club, gathered outside the stadium in drizzle throughout the day, supported by news of the impending takeover.

While celebrating, others said it was another example of “sports wash” in Saudi Arabia.

Active sports

The PIF – Saudi Arabia’s $ 430 billion sovereign wealth fund – is at the center of plans to transform the economy by creating new sectors and diversifying oil revenues.

The country has increasingly sought out top athletic assets, including signing a 10-year deal to host F1 and hosting Anthony Joshua’s heavyweight title fight in 2019.

Having a club with Newcastle’s potential in its record is a major scoop for the oil-rich nation.

But Amnesty UK chief executive Sacha Deshmukh said earlier Thursday that the Saudi authorities “were washing away their appalling human rights record with the glamor of top football.

“Instead of allowing those involved in serious human rights violations to enter English football just because their pockets are full, we have urged the Premier League to change the test of its owners and managers to address the human rights issues, ”he added.

The Saudi government denies allegations of human rights violations and says it protects national security from extremists and external actors.

Newcastle become the 14th current Premier League club to have a majority of foreign owners and fans hope this heralds a new era like Manchester City who have dominated English football since their takeover by Sheikh Mansour of Abu Dhabi in 2008 .

French club Paris St-Germain have also made an impact under Qatari ownership with a slew of mega-money signings.

The Newcastle takeover ends 14-year-old ownership of Ashley whose management has been deeply unpopular, with supporters accusing her of underinvestment and lack of ambition.

Since Ashley bought the Sleeping Giants, who last won a national trophy in 1955 and haven’t been top-level champions since 1927, they have been relegated twice from the Premier League and have not finished higher than 10th since 2012.

Another relegation battle looms with the team not winning any of their opening seven league games and currently sitting second from the bottom of the table and fans have asked Ashley and manager Bruce to leave the club .

(REUTERS)

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