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Saudi-led takeover of Newcastle complete, ending Ashley era


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A Saudi Arabia-led takeover of Newcastle United has been completed. 

The Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF) has taken an 80 per cent stake in the Premier League club, with the remaining 20 per cent evenly split between PCP Capital Partners and Reuben Brothers.

It's believed the club has cost £305million (€359m).

Confirmation of the deal ends a protracted process, which seemed to have ground to a halt in the summer of 2020.

Outgoing owner Mike Ashley had agreed a £300million deal with the Saudi-led consortium, only for the bid to be later withdrawn over the "unforeseen prolonged process".

There had been a number of stumbling blocks to the Premier League giving the takeover the green light.

Among them were concerns that the PIF and the Saudi royal family were one and the same.

According to reports, the Premier League received legally-binding assurances that PIF is a separate entity to the royal family.

An issue regarding the piracy of Premier League rights belonging to Qatar-based BeIN Sports was resolved earlier this week.

But concerns remained - although perhaps not from the Premier League's point of view - regarding Saudi Arabia's appalling human rights record.

Completion of the Newcastle takeover comes despite last minute pleas from Amnesty International, and the former partner of murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Amnesty warned, "As with Formula One, elite boxing, golf or tennis, an association with top-tier football is a very attractive means of rebranding a country or person with a tarnished reputation.

"The Premier League needs to better understand the dynamic of sportswashing and tighten its ownership rules."

Meanwhile Hatice Cengiz told The Telegraph, "Only a few days after the third anniversary of Jamal [Khashoggi]’s murder, it is horrifying to learn that the Crown Prince is on the brink of getting what he wants: to wash his reputation, and sully the name of sports."

Earlier this year, a US intelligence report found that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman approved the murder of Mr. Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018.

The Saudi government denied direct involvement, but in 2019 Bin Salman did accept "full responsibility" for what he called a "heinous crime".

The Premier League confirmed the sale in a statement:

The Premier League, Newcastle United Football Club and St James Holdings Limited have today settled the dispute over the takeover of the club by the consortium of PIF, PCP Capital Partners and RB Sports & Media. Following the completion of the Premier League’s Owners’ and Directors’ Test, the club has been sold to the consortium with immediate effect.

The legal disputes concerned which entities would own and/or have the ability to control the club following the takeover. All parties have agreed the settlement is necessary to end the long uncertainty for fans over the club’s ownership. The Premier League has now received legally binding assurances that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will not control Newcastle United Football Club.

All parties are pleased to have concluded this process which gives certainty and clarity to Newcastle United Football Club and their fans.

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Amanda Staveley Jamal Khashoggi Mike Ashley Newcastle Newcastle United PCP Capital Partners Reuben Brothers Saudi Arabia Takeover

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