Saudi sovereign fund buys Premier League club Newcastle

AP , Thursday 7 Oct 2021

English Premier League club Newcastle was sold to Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund on Thursday after a protracted takeover and legal fight involving concerns about piracy and rights abuses in the kingdom.

The Bobby Robson Statue outside Newcastle United s St James Park stadium, in Newcastle, Britain, on Oct. 7.

The 300-million-pound ($409 million) takeover by the Saudi Public Investment Fund initially collapsed last year over concerns about how much control the kingdom's leadership would have in the running of Newcastle.

PIF has had to offer assurances to the Premier League that its chairman, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and in turn the state will not have any control of the running of Newcastle.

``We are extremely proud to become the new owners of Newcastle United, one of the most famous clubs in English football,`` PIF governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan said. ``We thank the Newcastle fans for their tremendously loyal support over the years and we are excited to work together with them.''

The PIF will be the majority partner alongside wealthy British-based Reuben brothers and financier Amanda Staveley.

The Premier League said ``the club has been sold to the consortium with immediate effect'' following the completion of its owners' and directors' test.

``The legal disputes concerned which entities would own and/or have the ability to control the club following the takeover,'' the Premier League said in statement. ``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.''

The takeover ends the 14-year ownership by British retail tycoon Mike Ashley, who has been widely viewed as a figure of scorn in the one-club city, whose St. James' Park stadium is affectionately dubbed ``the cathedral on the hill.''

His ownership has been marked by chronic underinvestment in the playing squad, his use of Newcastle as a vehicle to promote his business interests, and of a general lack of ambition despite the club attracting regular home crowds of more than 50,000.

Newcastle has not won a major trophy since the 1955 FA Cup and its last league title was in 1927.

The northeast English club will be seeking a transformation in the same manner enjoyed by Manchester City in 2008 after its takeover by another Middle Eastern entity - Abu Dhabi.



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