After all the talk and excitement about a billionaire-led takeover, the Saudi Arabian backers of Newcastle United’s proposed takeover have now withdrawn their interest in the club.
Excitement was high on Tyneside as the club announced the deal which would have seen controversial owner Mike Ashley finally sell the club to a consortium comprised of the Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund (PIF), PCP Capital Partners and Reuben Brothers; Newcastle seemingly having been on the brink of becoming one of the richest clubs in world football.
Lavish plans for the club were speculated in the media, including a number of high-profile and big-money signings, while Mauricio Pochettino was reported to be on the club’s radar to takeover in the St. James’ Park dugout.
The £310 million takeover deal was first announced back in April, but a number of concerns have seen the takeover be dragged out much longer than the norm, with the Premier League being forced to consider Saudi Arabia’s hugely questionable human rights record, as well as widespread piracy of English football in the Middle Eastern Kingdom.
However, the deal is now off the table, with a statement from the consortium expressing their regret after confirming their withdrawal from the takeover process, saying that the deal was ‘no longer commercially viable’.
“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.
🗣 "This was almost a country buying a football club, Saudi Arabia has some controversial laws and a poor record by western standards when it comes to human rights"@SkyKaveh explains why Newcastle's takeover was always a problem pic.twitter.com/akfZGomlqF
— Football Daily (@footballdaily) July 30, 2020
“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.
“We would like to say that we truly appreciated your incredible expressions of support and your patience throughout this process. We are sorry it is not to be.
“We wish the team and everyone associated with it much good luck and success.”
It has been reported that Mike Ashley has been in talks since the beginning of the month with American businessman, Henry Mauriss, after the expiry of Saudi’s exclusivity period.