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Controversial £300m Saudi Arabian-backed takeover of Newcastle United is completed

The controversial £300m takeover of Newcastle United by a Saudi Arabian consortium has been completed today following dramatic developments this week.

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The controversial £300m takeover of Newcastle United by a Saudi Arabian consortium has been completed today following dramatic developments this week.

The deal has been years in the making and after an initial agreement was found back in April 2020, the deal collapsed when the prospective buyers walked away from negotiations four months later due to concerns over who would control the club after the buy out. The Premier League offered arbitration to settle the disagreement but no resolution was found.

However, a dramatic twist occurred earlier this week when Saudi Arabia settled a long-running piracy dispute with Qatar-based broadcaster beIN Sports – which owns the rights to show Premier League matches in the Middle East. The Premier League also reached a secret agreement with the Saudi consortium to reignite the takeover and news emerged on Wednesday that a deal was on the verge of being signed off.

Newcastle announced on Thursday afternoon that a £300m deal had finally been completed after the Premier League received ‘legally binding assurances’ that the Saudi state would not be in control of the club. The Public Investment Fund [PIF] will provide 80% of the funding for the takeover but is still regarded as separate to the Saudi state.

The sale was finally rubber stamped after the consortium passed the Premier League owners’ and director’ ‘fit and proper’ test, bringing an end to Mike Ashley’s turbulent 14-year spell as Newcastle United owner.

Following this latest foreign takeover deal, the Premier League is now only around 1/3 British owned with 20% of top flight clubs owned by Americans including the likes of Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United. Chinese and Italians companies own 10% each including Gao Jisheng at Southampton and the Pozzo family at Watford.

While many club fans are disgruntled with their owners, Newcastle supporters have reacted with glee following the Saudi takeover as they are over the moon to see the back of Mikel Ashley – who was a hugely unpopular figure at St James’ Park. Supporters have gathered outside St James’ Park this evening to celebrate the takeover and the exit of Ashley.

Fans hope the new owners – who are comfortably the most wealthy owners in world football – will pump money into the club to get them challenging for trophies again. It’s estimated Newcastle can spend at least £200m next year without breaking Financial Fair Play guidelines, so it’s easy to understand why fans are excited.

However, not everyone is happy with this deal as Amnesty International have urged the Premier League to change it’s owners’ test to address human rights issues following the Saudi’s controversial takeover of the Magpies.

The Saudi Arabian state have been accused of human rights abuses in recent years and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was accused of ordering the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in October 2018. Amnesty International claim the consortium have flouted rules to get this deal signed off with the Crown Prince named as chair of the PIF, despite claiming the State won’t be in control of the club.

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