After 18 months of speculations and back-to-back negotiations as to who becomes the new owner of English Premier League side, Newcastle United, finally, a £300m Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF) takeover bid has been sealed.
The Premier League approved the takeover after receiving “legally binding assurances” that the Saudi state would not control the club.
Crucial to the takeover’s approval was the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF) – the state’s sovereign wealth fund overseen by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
The takeover brings to an end Mike Ashley’s 14-year spell as Newcastle United owner.
This puts to end the most complicated takeovers in Premier league’s history; fans can dance on the steps of St James’ Park and dream of a brighter future.
This means Newcastle football club can compete with Europe’s biggest teams, but there are more unanswered questions, how much money will Newcastle have to spend to recruit top players and a title-winning manager?
A Newcastle United Supporters’ Trust (NUST) survey shows that 93.8 percent of its members were in favour of the sale.
The takeover, they hope, will bring the club back to title contenders. PIF’s assets of £250bn beats the wealth of Manchester City’s Abu Dhabi owners and Paris St-Germain’s Qatari owners, and can guarantee the signing of World Class players such as French World Cup winner Kylian Mbappe or recruiting Antonio Conte as a replacement for Bruce.
“Fans are delighted that the disastrous 14-year reign of Ashley is almost over,” says Greg Tomlinson of NUST. “They are looking forward to having hope and belief in their football club for the first time in many years.
“We don’t demand that the club is winning trophies next season. We just want growth and a football club that gets better. Fans have been beaten into the ground.”
Its UK chief executive Sacha Deshmukh has a different view of the sale: “Ever since this deal was first talked about, we said it represented a clear attempt by the Saudi authorities to sportswash their appalling human rights record with the glamour of top-flight football.
“Saudi ownership of St James’ Park was always as much about image management for Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and his government as it was about football,” Deshmukh said.
Premier League club in the grips of foreign ownership is a good thing at least going by the success of Manchester City. This takeover marks a shift in the power dynamic at the top of the English football. With the backing of the Saudi sovereign wealth fund behind them, Newcastle United will surely have lofty ambitions. The Premier League might just have gained another giant.
Around 80 percent of that sum will be provided by PIF, the sovereign wealth fund of Saudi Arabia. Its asset value is estimated at $430 billion. It is chaired by Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Yasir Al-Rumayyan, governor of PIF, will be the club’s new non-executive chairman. He said: “We are extremely proud to become the new owners of Newcastle United, one of the most famous clubs in English football. We thank the Newcastle fans for their tremendously loyal support over the years and we are excited to work together with them.”
Amanda Staveley, the broker behind the deal, will receive a 10 percent stake in the club as will London-based billionaires, the Reuben brothers. Both will have seats on the board.
“This is a long-term investment,” said Staveley. “We are excited about the prospects for Newcastle United. We intend to instill a united philosophy across the club, establish a clear purpose, and help provide leadership that will allow Newcastle United to go on to big achievements over the long term.
“Our ambition is aligned with the fans – to create a consistently successful team that’s regularly competing for major trophies and generates pride across the globe.”
This could be bad news for the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur. The so-called ‘Big Six’ might now be ‘Big Seven.’
With the takeover, Newcastle United will be expected to deliver more and that expectation could change the face of the Premier League.
For Newcastle fans, it means an end to 14 dour years under current owner Mike Ashley and indeed the deal has been greeted with a jubilance in the north east arguably not witnessed since local boy-come-good Alan Shearer signed for a then-world record fee in the summer of 1996.
The 57-year-old Ashley bought the club for £135 million, but has been an unpopular figure on Tyneside for most of his tenure. On and off, he has been attempting to find a buyer for Newcastle since 2009.
In one swoop Newcastle will, in financial terms, find themselves in a different ball park to almost any other club in Europe. They are not the only team backed by sovereign wealth from the Middle East but one look at their contemporaries — PSG and Manchester City — offers a sense of the wealth that will be available to the club hierarchy.
Those tasked with the day-to-day running of the club will likely have access to funds that were not available in the latter years of Ashley’s ownership, with local media reporting last year that the new owners could be willing to sanction nearly $350 million in expenditure over the next five years.
Newcastle are likely to be able to add quality to a squad that has been stuck in mid-table for recent years with Joe Willock the only major addition in the summer.
There will, however, be limits to what Newcastle can do. Last year, their prospective new owners indicated they will abide by the Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules of European governing body UEFA which will provide a significant limit on expenditure.
On July 31, 2020, turnover was just over $200million; revenue at least half of that of the Premier League’s “Big Six.”