The Premier League are ‘fully considering’ calls to block a proposed Saudi-backed takeover of Newcastle United.
The Saudi-backed consortium have agreed a deal to purchase the North East side in a £300m deal from current owner Mike Ashley, subject to Premier League approval, though the latest revelations raise serious doubts over whether the deal can be completed.
Premier League authorities have been urged by Hatice Cengiz – fiancee of murdered dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi – to block the Saudi-led takeover of the Magpies, warning that the investment in the club would “greatly stain” the reputation of both the Premier League and the UK.
According to the Telegraph, Premier League chief executive, Richard Masters, has told Cengiz’s lawyer that he was ‘extremely sympathetic to your client’s position’ after twice receiving letters urging him to block the takeover.
Despite refusing to meet Cengiz, however, it is the first time the Premier League have admitted they are ‘examining allegations of murder and human rights abuses’ as part of the owners’ and directors’ test being conducted ahead of approving any potential deal, with the league’s chief executive revealing the reservations are being ‘fully considered’.
In a letter to Dixon, Masters wrote: “Of course, I remain extremely sympathetic to your client’s position, but I am unable to correspond in any more detail than we have already on this matter.
“Our process is strictly private and confidential and must remain so.
“For this reason, a meeting is not possible particularly in light of correspondence on this confidential matter appearing in the media.
“However, I assure you and your client that her representations are being fully considered in our process.”
The Saudi’s have been accused as sportswashing in a bid to repair the nation’s image following a series of large investments in major sports, with Cengiz having accused Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, of “strategically using international sports to repair his badly-damaged reputation”. Bin Salman has been implicated in the killing of Khashoggi by the United Nations and CIA.
Saudi Arabia have always denied the prince’s involvement in any wrongdoing, though the latest developments throw any takeover of Newcastle into serious doubt.
Concerns have also been raised over the nation’s involvement in piracy breaches of major sporting events including both the Premier League and La Liga.