The Premier League have confirmed the sale of Newcastle United to a Saudi Arabia-based consortium.
The £300million-plus takeover from previous owner Mike Ashley leaves the Saudi Public Investment Fund with the majority stake in the club, with the league stating that they received “legally binding assurances that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will not control Newcastle United Football Club”.
The takeover has been criticised by Amnesty International, among others, who consider it an attempt to sportswash Saudi Arabia’s human rights record and deflect from their part in the war in Yemen and the state’s alleged involvement in death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi – the finding of a US intelligence report, which Saudi Arabia deny.
The takeover had previously been delayed by a rights issue.
A Saudi ban on Premier League rights holder beIN SPORTS being able to broadcast in the country is understood to be being lifted after four and a half years, while a one billion dollar arbitration process between the broadcaster and the kingdom is also understood to have been settled.
The ban on beIN, plus alleged Saudi involvement in piracy of its content, are thought to have been key obstacles to any takeover of Newcastle happening.
A statement released by the Premier League has now confirmed the resolution of the issue.
“The Premier League, Newcastle United Football Club and St James Holdings Limited have today settled the dispute over the takeover of the club by the consortium of PIF, PCP Capital Partners and RB Sports & Media.
“Following the completion of the Premier League’s Owners’ and Directors’ Test, the club has been sold to the consortium with immediate effect.
“The legal disputes concerned which entities would own and/or have the ability to control the club following the takeover.
“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.
“All parties are pleased to have concluded this process which gives certainty and clarity to Newcastle United Football Club and their fans.”
A statement from Newcastle United said that the new owners would aim to “harness the club’s potential and build upon the club’s legacy.”
“The Investment Group is comprised of long-term, patient investors who have every confidence in the future success of the Club. Today’s announcement is the conclusion of a thorough and detailed process that has allowed the Investment Group to arrive at a deal that benefits all stakeholders and will leave Newcastle United well-placed to pursue a clear, long-term strategy.
“His Excellency Yasir Al-Rumayyan, Governor of PIF, will serve as Non-Executive Chairman of Newcastle United. Amanda Staveley, chief executive of PCP Capital Partners, will have one seat on the board. Jamie Reuben will also be a director of the Club, representing RB Sports & Media.
“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 – in this case, to harness the club’s potential and build upon the club’s legacy.”
Newcastle’s new owners are expected to replace Steve Bruce as head coach, but no decision has yet been made on when this might happen.