The sale of Newcastle United Football Club for £300 million to a Saudi Arabian backed consortium is off, apparently because the bidders had lost patience in view of the time it was taking for the English Premier League to approve the deal.
For the background, see the Post of 29 July by Prof Dr Ian Blackshaw on the SLT website.
The bid for the Club was led by a British Financier, Amanda Staveley, with the Saudi Arabia Sovereign Wealth Public Investment Fund (PIF) taking an 80% stake.
The PIF Chairman, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, is the Deputy Prime Minister of Saudi Arabia, and the League was concerned whether the Saudi Government would have any influence over the running of the Club, which was denied. In other words, who would have the ultimate control.
The fans of the Club are devastated by the news and so also is the local MP, who is reported to be writing to the League asking why they took so long and why the League “gave so little clarity to Newcastle fans.”
It is expected that the League’s rules on the suitability of owners and directors of football clubs will be clarified and strengthened in the interests of the game.
However, Amnesty International is very pleased that the Saudi bid is off, having described it as an attempt by Saudi Arabia to “sportswash” its human rights record.
Perhaps the American businessman Henry Mauriss, who has expressed an interest in buying the Club for £350 million, may step in to fill the breach and save the day?