Newcastle United are subject of a takeover bid from investors including PCP Capital Partners, who receive financial backing from the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia, with the deal valued at around 340 million euros.
Saudi Arabia is one of the richest countries in the world with an estimated wealth of 300 billion euros, and it is set to transform Newcastle and, in effect, the Premier League and European football.
PCP Capital Partners’ takeover bid is being led by businesswoman Amanda Staveley, who has ties in the Middle East and was involved in Sheikh Mansour‘s purchase of Manchester City in 2008.
According to the BBC, the potential buyers have already exchanged contracts and paid the initial deposit to current Newcastle owner Mike Ashley.
Reports suggest that the remainder of the takeover will be completed once they pass the Premier League‘s owners and directors test.
According to Sky Sports, Yasir El-Rumayyan, one of the most powerful men in the Saudi Arabian royal family, would become the new chairman of the club.
However, beIN Sports and Amnesty International have made their opposition to the deal clear.
BeIN Sports chief executive Yousef Al-Obaidly has written to the Premier League and its clubs, asking them to thoroughly assess the deal and pointed to Saudi Arabia’s links with piracy of the league’s TV rights.
“In light of the Saudi Arabia government’s facilitation of the near three-year theft of the Premier League‘s commercial rights – and in turn your club’s commercial revenues – through its backing of the huge scale beoutQ pirate service, I would strongly suggest that you fully interrogate this deal and ask the Premier League to do the same as a matter of urgency,” Al-Obaidly said.
“To the extent the reports about the acquisition of NUFC are correct, we consider it essential for the Premier League to fully investigate the potential acquirer of the club, including all directors, officers and other representatives from the KSA PIF or other Saudi Arabian entities involved in, or otherwise providing any financing for the acquisition.
“There appear to be several reasons why such an investigation is being called for by other parties; our request is purely based on Saudi Arabia’s past and present theft of your and your member clubs’ intellectual property rights.”
Amnesty International are more concerned about Saudi Arabia’s human rights record, linking Newcastle to the country’s sports-washing programme.
“So long as these questions remain unaddressed, the Premier League is putting itself at risk of becoming a patsy of those who want to use the glamour and prestige of Premier League football to cover up actions that are deeply immoral, in breach of international law and at odds with the values of the Premier League and the global footballing community,” they said.
What happens if the deal goes through?
During Ashley‘s ownership, Newcastle have refused to be drawn into paying big money for new signings and are therefore in a strong position in terms of Financial Fair Play (FFP).
As a result of Ashley unwillingness to spend money, the club’s fans have become impatient over the team’s limited potential and, if this takeover goes through, they will demand and expect major investment.
“[Newcastle] have a bigger capacity to spend money than other clubs and would still be within the limits of Financial Fair Play, but they couldn’t invest more in signings than [Manchester] City at the moment,” Kieran Maguire, professor and head of Price of Football, told MARCA.
“The FFP rules were designed to stop new owners buying a club and spending money without restrictions, like we saw at Chelsea, PSG and [Manchester] City. [Newcastle] will have to invest more slowly because there are restrictions now.”
Despite the FFP rules, Newcastle would still be in position to significantly strengthen their current squad and coaching staff.
Names like Edinson Cavani, Willian and Arturo Vidal are being touted as possible new signings in the English press.
Meanwhile, the Mirror and ESPN are linking Mauricio Pochettino and Massimiliano Allegri with the coach’s job, which would see current boss Steve Bruce moved on.
Links have obviously been drawn to Manchester City‘s takeover of 2008 and the revolution that has occurred at that club.
Newcastle, a club of bigger stature than what City were before 2008, will be hoping they can produce something similar.
“We all dream of having those scenarios where there are trophies coming in on a yearly basis, whichever trophy it is,” former Newcastle player Lee Clark told the Newcastle Chronicle.
“Any club would take following Manchester City‘s lead. There’s a lot of questions to be asked before then.”