Newcastle United will not be taken over by a Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund backed bid to take a majority shareholding at St James’ Park after the PIF pulled out on Thursday evening. The saga was drawn out over 16 weeks, and each twist and turn was made incredibly public. The first hurdle was the Kingdom’s human rights record, which drew criticism from Amnesty International, shortly followed by the beoutQ piracy scandal in the region.
However, the final stumbling block is thought to be a lack of clarity as to who would be in charge of Newcastle United if the takeover was completed. It appears the Premier League were not satisfied that the Public Investment Fund was separate from government and that there would be no interference. Journalists George Caulkin, Chris Waugh and Adam Crafton have written to explain further why the deal was not completed.
What did they say?
Writing in The Athletic, Caulkin, Waugh and Crafton wrote: “[Yasir] Al-Rumayyan would have been named chairman, reflecting PIF’s majority control, but it is understood that Staveley would have been responsible for managing the club on the group’s behalf. But the structure, as well as the Saudi appointees to the board, failed to satisfy the Premier League.
“Sources close to the bid insist the issue which ‘kept being raised’ by the Premier League and which it ‘became impossible to offer any further assurances on’ was the separation between the PIF and the Saudi government, and whether Newcastle would have essentially become ‘state-owned’,” added the trio of Journalists.
Back where we started
After 16 long weeks of limbo Newcastle fans now finally have the “clarity” Steve Bruce called for. The journalists described the deal as the “most contentious and wearisome takeover in the history of the division”, and if there are other examples that come close, they have not been made public.
It appears the straw which finally broke the camel’s back and led to the Saudi backed consortium pulling out was the issue of who would really be in charge, along with the division failing to put a timeline on their decision. It’s claimed there were guarantees from the highest possible level that the PIF fund is independent of the Saudi state and that there would be no interference.
Nevertheless, Newcastle are back to square one. During the prospective takeover Mike Ashley’s ownership was likened to a “ghost ship”, and he must now retake the helm.