Three months after a deal was agreed for Mike Ashley to relinquish control at Newcastle United, the proposed takeover by a Saudi Arabian-led consortium has now reportedly ‘reached deadlock’
Ashley accepted a £300 million offer from Saudia Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) back in April, with the expectations being that the deal would be ratified by the Premier League in just a matter of weeks. However, the Premier League’s Owners and Director’s Test has failed to yield a decision, and according to the Telegaph, the takeover has now ‘reached deadlock’.
According to the report, talks are ‘locked in stalemate’, with the Premier League said to ‘want greater clarity regarding the link between the PIF and the Saudi state’.
The future ownership structure of the North-East club is said to be at ‘the crux of the problem’, with the Premier League said to remain ‘unconvinced by the argument that the PIF is independent of the Saudi government’, the presence of Saudi Crown Prince, Mohamed bin Salman, as chairman of the PIF raising understandable doubts.
There have also been a number of calls for the takeover to be blocked on the grounds of Saudi Arabia’s hugely questionable human rights record, including the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, though it is the ownership issues as well as piracy concerns which are said to have ‘complicated the deal’.
The illegal streaming of English football, as well as a number of other major sporting events, in Saudia Arabia is said to be at ‘the heart of the matter’, and while there has been a crackdown on piracy websites in the Middle Eastern Kingdom, the Telegraph report that the matter is ‘further confused’ by the decision to ban Qatari-based international rights holders, beIn, meaning it is now impossible to legally watch Premier League matches in Saudi Arabia.
The report adds that Mike Ashley is exploring alternative buyers as he looks to sell the St. James’ Park club, the Newcastle owner in talks with American businessman, Henry Mauriss, for the last month, with the exclusivity period with the Saudi’s having now expired.