Saudi-backed consortium pulls out of bid to buy Newcastle United

Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) was part of a tripartite deal led by PCP Capital Partners, a venture and private equity firm founded and led by British businesswoman Amanda Staveley and the company estate agent Reuben Brothers, who wanted to buy the club from English businessman Mike Ashley.

“With deep appreciation for the Newcastle community and the importance of its football club, we have made the decision to withdraw our interest in acquiring Newcastle United Football Club,” the consortium said in a statement Thursday.

“We do so with regret as we were excited and fully committed to investing in the great city of Newcastle and believe we could have brought the club back to the position of its history, tradition and the merit of its fans.

“Unfortunately, the protracted process under current circumstances, coupled with global uncertainty, has made the potential investment more commercially viable.”

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Newcastle United's Sean (right) and Matty Longstaff celebrate the opening goal of the FA Cup fourth round resumption against Oxford United earlier this year.

The Premier League board has been evaluating the offer for several months since it was submitted in April.

Before a takeover is made, any successful bid must pass the English Football Owners and Managers Test, which assesses the suitability of ownership groups.

The consortium added that the situation had been complicated by a lack of clarity resulting from the current Covid-19 pandemic.

“As often happens with proposed investments in uncertain times, time itself has become an enemy of the deal, especially during this difficult phase marked by the many real challenges we all face since Covid-19” , continues the press release.

“We feel great compassion for the Newcastle United fans with whom we have shared a great commitment to help Newcastle United realize their enormous potential and build on their impressive and historic legacy while working closely with the local community. “

A Newcastle fan protests against current owner Mike Ashley.
READ: Kingdom of Bahrain to buy back stake in French club Paris FC

The proposed buyout had met with strong opposition from human rights groups and others.

Amnesty International had argued that Saudi Arabia’s interest in Newcastle was a form of “sports wash” and “a public relations tool to distract from the country’s appalling human rights record”, while Hatice Cengiz, fiancee of late journalist Jamal Khashoggi, said the takeover “stains” the Premier League.
Qatar-based media giant beIN Media Group has also expressed concerns over Saudi Arabia’s alleged role in illegally broadcasting football matches, writing to the Premier League about the “direct role” that the Saudi Arabia would have played in the “launching, promotion and operation” of a pirate. streaming service.

But for many Newcastle fans, the news of the proposed buyout was welcome.

After 13 years under the ownership of Mike Ashley, the British businessman who runs the Sports Direct retail brand, the feeling is that the club has been out of investment for too long.

This may explain why a Newcastle United Supporters Trust survey in April found that 96.7% of the more than 3,397 fans surveyed were in favor of the takeover.

Money injections from homeowners in the Middle East are nothing new to football; Manchester City have won four Premier League titles after being bought out by the Abu Dhabi United group in 2008, while Paris Saint-Germain have brought together one of Europe’s best teams under the ownership of sovereign wealth fund Qatar Sports Investments.

Earlier this week, the Kingdom of Bahrain bought a 20% stake in French team Paris FC, a recent reflection of the growing influence of the Middle East in European football.

For Newcastle, who finished 13th in the Premier League last season, the search for new owners continues.

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