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Saudi Public Investment Fund withdraws interest in Newcastle takeover citing ‘global uncertainty’ due to Covid-19

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The Saudi Public Investment Fund has walked away from its takeover of Newcastle.

he PIF had been set to take an 80 per cent stake in the Premier League club but has withdrawn its interest.

A statement from the group read: “An investment group led by majority investor the Public Investment Fund; PCP Capital Partners; and RB Sports & Media, announced today that it has formally withdrawn its interest in pursuing the acquisition of Newcastle United Limited and Newcastle United Football Club Limited.”

PCP Capital and RB Sports & Media had been set to take a 10 per cent stake each in the deal, which is understood to have valued the club at just over £300million.

The statement added: “With a deep appreciation for the Newcastle community and the significance of its football club, we have come to the decision to withdraw our interest in acquiring Newcastle United Football Club.

“We do so with regret, as we were excited and fully committed to invest in the great city of Newcastle and believe we could have returned the club to the position of its history, tradition and fans’ merit.”

“Unfortunately, the prolonged process under the current circumstances coupled with global uncertainty has rendered the potential investment no longer commercially viable,” the statement continued.

“To that end, we feel a responsibility to the fans to explain the lack of alternatives from an investment perspective.

“As an autonomous and purely commercial investor, our focus was on building long-term value for the club, its fans and the community as we remained committed to collaboration, practicality and pro-activity through a difficult period of global uncertainty and significant challenges for the fans and the club.

“Ultimately, during the unforeseeably prolonged process, the commercial agreement between the investment group and the club’s owners expired and our investment thesis could not be sustained, particularly with no clarity as to the circumstances under which the next season will start and the new norms that will arise for matches, training and other activities.”

The statement continued: “As often occurs with proposed investments in uncertain periods, time itself became an enemy of the transaction, particularly during this difficult phase marked by the many real challenges facing us all from Covid-19.

“We feel great compassion for the Newcastle United fans with whom we shared a great commitment to help Newcastle United harness its tremendous potential and build upon its impressive and historic legacy while working closely with the local community.

“We would like to say that we truly appreciated your incredible expressions of support and your patience throughout this process. We are sorry it is not to be.

“We wish the team and everyone associated with it much good luck and success.”

The league was warned by human rights group Amnesty International that it “risked becoming a patsy” if it allowed the takeover to go through.

The piracy question has also been a particularly thorny one, with the Premier League itself having repeatedly tried and failed to seek legal redress against illegal broadcaster beoutQ through the Saudi system.

On Wednesday, Saudi Arabia appealed against a World Trade Organisation report which found that it had facilitated the activities of beoutQ.

Saudi authorities also suspended the broadcasting licence of beIN SPORTS earlier this month, which meant there was no legal means to watch Premier League football in the country until 2022 at the earliest.

It is understood Newcastle owner Mike Ashley received a non-refundable £17m deposit as part of the deal earlier this year.

Online Editors



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