Saudi-backed group pulls out of Newcastle United takeover bid

Ross Houston
July 31, 2020

The investment group of the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF), Amanda Staveley's PCP Capital Partners and billionaire brothers, David and Simon Reuben, cited the long period since a deal was struck with Newcastle owner Mike Ashley in April and the impact of coronavirus for pulling out.

The Premier League's board had been carrying out an examination of the proposed takeover as part of its "owners and directors test", which evaluates the suitability of ownership groups.

"As often occurs with proposed investments in uncertain periods, time itself became an enemy of the transaction, particularly during this hard phase marked by the many real challenges facing us all from COVID-19".

But the bid had been criticised by human rights campaigners and had come up against questions about pirate broadcasts of Premier League games in Saudi Arabia.

The Saudi General Authority for Competition (GAC) said it had permanently canceled the license of the broadcaster, a surprising move given the talks with the Premier League.

She was critical of the Premier League for not approving the takeover and blamed other clubs for opposing it.

"We are so heartbroken for the Newcastle fans as the investment that was going to go into the club, especially with everything happening with Brexit and Covid, would have been so important".

"The piracy issue was not an issue but we tried to resolve it anyway", she said.

That decision means that there is no legal means to watch Premier League football in Saudi Arabia until at least 2022. No country has ever become a director of a club.

The consortium said in a statement that their decision had been taken with regret, saying it had been "excited and fully committed to invest in the great city of Newcastle and believe we could have returned the club to the position of its history, tradition and fans' merit".

Asked if the Saudi-backed consortium blamed the Premier League for the collapse of the deal, she replied: "Of course we do".

"Unfortunately, the prolonged process under the current circumstances coupled with global uncertainty has rendered the potential investment no longer commercially viable", they added.

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