A long-awaited takeover of Newcastle United has been approved by the Premier League after it said it received “legally binding assurances” the club would not be controlled by Saudi Arabia.
The takeover sees Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) take an 80 per cent stake in the club, ending Mike Ashley’s 14-year ownership. Amanda Staveley’s PCP Capital Partners and the Reuben brothers’ RB Sports & Media each take on 10 per cent.
Ashley, an unpopular figure with Newcastle’s fanbase, has long been trying to sell the club and looked to have secured a suitable deal, reported to be worth £305million, in 2020.
However, the bid, backed by the PIF and fronted by British businesswoman Staveley, stalled as it failed to gain Premier League approval.
A dispute between Ashley and the bidders and the league has since continued, with the deal seemingly set for arbitration in January 2022.
Concerns over the separation between Saudi Arabia and its PIF has long been cited as an issue.
Yet a reported breakthrough this week in a piracy dispute between Saudi Arabia and beIN SPORTS, a Qatar-based Premier League broadcaster, was followed by rapid progress on the takeover front.
The sale was confirmed on Thursday in a Premier League statement.
“The Premier League, Newcastle United Football Club and St James Holdings Limited have today settled the dispute over the takeover of the club by the consortium of PIF, PCP Capital Partners and RB Sports & Media,” the statement read.
“Following the completion of the Premier League’s Owners’ and Directors’ Test, the club has been sold to the consortium with immediate effect.
“The legal disputes concerned which entities would own and/or have the ability to control the club following the takeover.
“All parties have agreed the settlement is necessary to end the long uncertainty for fans over the club’s ownership.
“The Premier League has now received legally binding assurances that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will not control Newcastle United Football Club.
“All parties are pleased to have concluded this process which gives certainty and clarity to Newcastle United Football Club and their fans.”
Yasir Al-Rumayyan, the governor of the PIF, will serve as Newcastle’s non-executive chairman, with Staveley holding a seat on the board, a club statement said. Jamie Reuben will also be a director.
Al-Rumayyan 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.”
Staveley added: “This is a long-term investment. We are excited about the future prospects for Newcastle United.
“We intend to instil 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.”
Reuben said: “We look forward to a great future for Newcastle United. Newcastle is a fantastic city, which is why our family has been investing heavily in the area for many years. To become part of this great club and its amazing fans is a privilege.
“We will build a true community club, based upon our family’s knowledge of the city and in line with our plans that have been worked on closely with Newcastle City Council to deliver long-term sustainable growth for the area.”
The statement thanked outgoing owner Ashley “for his commitment to the sale process” and the Premier League “or its contribution in the regulatory process, which has helped lead to completion of this deal”.