Saudi-led consortium takes over EPL’s Newcastle United

13:41, 08 October 2021
Saudi-led consortium takes over EPL’s Newcastle United Photo: Owen Humphreys/AP/TASS

The Premier League underdog was bought by an investment group whose net worth is estimated at £320 bln ($435 bln).

An investment group led by the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF) has purchased 100% of Newcastle United FC from St. James Holdings Limited. Thus, 14 years of controversial Mike Ashley’s leadership have come to an end.

The Club has published an official statement welcoming the new owners and the executive board.

“For PIF, one of the world’s most impactful investors, the acquisition is in line with its strategy of focusing on key sectors including Sports and Entertainment, and aligns with PIF’s mission to actively invest over the long term,” the statement said.

The PIF’s Head Yasir Al-Rumayyan has also issued a message announcing the purchase and thanked the club’s fans for their support.

The Premier League has also released a statement confirming the deal and welcoming PIF, PCP Capital Partners, and RB Sports & Media as the new owners.

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

The League’s statement has also explained why the deal was completed with a certain delay. Even though it was signed on October 7, the parties had earlier focused on settling the dispute over the takeover since the PL officials required information on which organizations would own and gain the ability to control the club. The purchase was approved only after the Premier League had received assurances that Saudi Arabia will not control Newcastle United.

However, the actual ‘saga’ started a year and a half ago over disputes concerning the PL broadcasting conflict between Qatar and Saudi Arabia. beIN Sports, a Qatari firm that has the right to broadcast the PL games, was banned in Saudi Arabia for several years which resulted in financial losses totaling more than $1 bln. In 2018 Qatar took legal action against the Kingdom with the WTO. The Premier League could not ratify the deal while the potential buyer was confronting one of the PL’s main partners.

Former owner Mike Ashley gave the first interview after the sale on Friday morning. He told The Sun that he had nothing but respect for Newcastle United adding that he participated financially when the club dropped from the Premier League in 2016.

“Money wasn’t my only consideration. Owning a football club gets into your blood and I would love nothing more than to see Newcastle winning trophies. Although there have been disappointments over the years, I wish Newcastle United and all its loyal fans all the very best for the future.”

Fans were gathering near the club’s stadium starting in the afternoon. Many of them expressed discontent with Ashley’s ownership and launched a #ashleyout trend on social networks. A wave of joy covered the area after Ashley’s announcement about his resignation.

The Saudi-based PIF became the richest football club owner in the world with a wide margin. The consortium has an estimated net worth of £320 bln ($435 bln) while Manchester City’s owner Sheikh Mansour occupies the second rank with almost £23 bln ($31 bln).