Newcastle United’s proposed takeover by a Saudi Arabian-backed consortium has been delayed according to a report by BBC.
According to the report, the protracted takeover of Newcastle United by Saudi Arabia’s public investment fund (PIF) has hit another roadblock due to concerns over the new ownership structure at the English top-flight soccer club.
A US$385 million offer from PIF was accepted by Newcastle’s current owner Mike Ashley back in April, with the expectation that the takeover would be confirmed by the Premier League a few weeks later has entered in its 17th week.
The deal is still being scrutinised under its owners’ and directors’ test.
The bid has been led by British financier Amanda Staveley, but Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth Public Investment Fund (PIF) is set to take an 80% stake.
PIF’s chairman is Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and it appears the Premier League’s lawyers are struggling to establish the precise links between the consortium and the Saudi government.
This is crucial given the television rights piracy issues that have dogged the saga, with Saudi Arabia denying claims it facilitated the illegal streaming of sports events in the Middle East.
The Premier League, PIF and Magpies owner Mike Ashley have all declined to comment, but with only seven weeks until the new season starts, patience is starting to wear thin on all sides.
On Saturday, manager Steve Bruce spoke for Newcastle fans when he said: “We need a decision and we need one quickly.”
According to the Daily Telegraph, the Premier League wants to know who will be running the club and have final say on key areas such as commercial contracts. In addition, the league is apparently unsatisfied with Newcastle’s proposed new management structure, which does not recognise PIF’s majority stake, and the argument that PIF is independent of the Saudi government. The Premier League is apparently ‘not satisfied with the answers it has been given’ on key issues.
The takeover group has continually asserted that PIF is a separate legal entity to the Saudi state. However, this appears to be undermined by the fact Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the kingdom’s de-facto ruler, is chairman of the fund.