Newcastle and Ashley critical of Premier League’s ‘inappropriate’ scuppering of Saudi sale

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September 10 – Newcastle United have accused the Premier League of acting inappropriately after it rejected a takeover by a Saudi Arabian-backed consortium last month. 

On Wednesday, the club released a stinging statement, saying that it would be “considering all relevant options” available after what it considers the inappropriate way the Premier League dealt with the bid of Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund PIF to takeover the club. The fund withdrew its bid, criticising the “unforeseeably prolonged process” of taking over the Premier League club.

Newcastle now claim the bid was rejected after failing the Premier League’s  owners’ and directors test, but laid the fault at the hands of the league.

“This conclusion has been reached despite the club providing the Premier League with overwhelming evidence and legal opinions that PIF is independent and autonomous of the Saudi Arabian government,” said Newcastle. “The club and its owners do not accept that Premier League chief executive Richard Masters and the Premier League have acted appropriately in relation to this matter and will be considering all relevant options available to them.”

The Premier League demanded clarification of the links between PIF and the Saudi State. The fund has always been linked to Saudi crown prince Mohammad bin Salman. PIF’s website states that the crown prince chairs the fund.

The Premier League’s rules required the league to have a specific understanding of who would have control, where the funding would come from, and who would appoint the board if PIF were to take over the Magpies. The Reuben brothers and British financier Amanda Staveley were also part of the PIF bid, planning to each acquire 10% of the stakes.

The takeover would have ended a 13-year strained relationship between owner Mike Ashley and Magpies fans.  “Mike Ashley understands fans’ frustrations and would like to reassure them that he has been fully committed to ensuring this takeover process reached completion as he felt it was in the best interests of the club,” said Newcastle.

“Mike continues to be fully supportive to (manager) Steve Bruce, the players and all the staff and wishes them well for the upcoming season.”

The Premier League didn’t comment, but in an interview with the BBC CEO Richard Masters said that the league  would “look again” at the “issues and specifics” of its owners’ and directors’ test.

Contact the writer of this story, Samindra Kunti, at moc.l1600851986labto1600851986ofdlr1600851986owedi1600851986sni@o1600851986fni1600851986