Saudi-Backed Group Pulls Out Of Newcastle Takeover Bid

A Saudi Arabian-led consortium has pulled out of a bid to buy Newcastle United according to Sky Sports News.

The consortium comprising of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, PCP Capital Partners and Reuben Brothers lodged documents relating to a £300m takeover of the club with the Premier League since April.

However, no further word has emerged from the league since then with the deal being scrutinised under the owners’ and directors’ test.

The Group has now decided to pull out of the purchase citing the global uncertainty wrought by the coronavirus pandemic.

It is, however, believed that Arabia’s sovereign wealth Public Investment Fund (PIF) ran out of patience waiting for approval.

A major stumbling block to the takeover bid was the uncertainty about links between PIF and the Saudi state who were accused by Qatar’s BEIN Sports of being behind a rogue Satellite service that illegally streamed Premier League matches in Saudi Arabia.

BEIN owns exclusive TV rights to Premier League matches in the Gulf and the World Trade Organisation recently found against the Saudi state when the case was brought before it although Saudi Arabia has appealed the decision.

PIF’s chairman is Saudi de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and it appears the Premier League’s lawyers had been struggling to establish the precise connections between the consortium and the Saudi government.

PIF felt it had been given as many assurances as it could about an appropriate amount of distance between PIF and the Saudi state.

The economic environment and prospect of a second wave of the coronavirus – and threat of limited fans in stadia – was also said to be unhelpful.

A statement read: “With a deep appreciation for the Newcastle community and the significance of its football club, we have come to the decision to withdraw our interest in acquiring Newcastle United Football Club.

“We do so with regret, as we were 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.

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

“To that end, we feel a responsibility to the fans to explain the lack of alternatives from an investment perspective.

“As an autonomous and purely commercial investor, our focus was on building long-term value for the club, its fans and the community as we remained committed to collaboration, practicality and proactivity through a difficult period of global uncertainty and significant challenges for the fans and the club.

“Ultimately, during the unforeseeably prolonged process, the commercial agreement between the Investment Group and the club’s owners expired and our investment thesis could not be sustained, particularly with no clarity as to the circumstances under which the next season will start and the new norms that will arise for matches, training and other activities.

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

“We feel great compassion for the Newcastle United fans, with whom we shared a great commitment to help Newcastle United harness its tremendous potential and build upon its impressive and historic legacy while working closely with the local community.