Newcastle United are under new ownership, with a £300 million ($408m) deal led by Saudi consortium, Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund (PIF) being completed as Mike Ashley’s 14-year controversial ownership at St James’ Park comes to a close. The consortium, led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, have been trying to buy the club from Mike Ashley for over a year.
The deal has now been completed after the group settled its piracy dispute with Premier League broadcast partner beIN Sports and gave assurances over who will control the club.
In a statement on Newcastle’s website, his Excellency Yasir Al-Rumayyan, Governor of PIF, 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.” They are now by far the wealthiest club in world football.
PIF acquired an 80% controlling stake in the Magpies, with Amanda Staveley’s PCP Capital Partners and the Reuben brothers also among the partners that now hold the reins of the English outfit.
The Premier League have released an official statement confirming that the takeover has been completed, which reads: “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.
“Following the completion of the Premier League’s Owners’ and Directors’ Test, the club has been sold to the consortium with immediate effect.”
Amid controversy over the new owners, the league added: “The Premier League has now received legally binding assurances that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will not control Newcastle United Football Club.”
Fans of the club have been calling for a change in ownership for some time now however, the deal with Saudi investors has not been universally well-received.
Amnesty International have cited Saudi Arabia’s human rights record as cause for the takeover to be opposed, with their UK chief executive, Sacha Deshmukh, saying: “Ever since this deal was first talked about we said it represented a clear attempt by the Saudi authorities to sports wash 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.”
With the new rich owners, Newcastle are going to be a real problem going forward as they now have the money needed to challenge the best teams in the Premier League. It seems only a matter of time until they are one of the best teams in England once again.
Steve Bruce’s reaction to the takeover
Newcastle manager Steve Bruce shared his opinion on the deal with UK tabloid The Telegraph for the first time after the takeover was confirmed. “I want to continue, I’d like the chance to show the new owners what I can do, but you have to be realistic and they may well want a new manager to launch things for them,” Bruce said. “New owners normally want a new manager. I’ve been around long enough to understand that. “That decision is not up to me. I accept that and I will accept what comes my way. I have to wait to have those conversations with people when the time is right. “Long before I played football, long before I became a manager, I was a Newcastle United fan. I’d love to see this club win something, to play in Europe and from everything I’ve heard about these new owners, that is what they want too and they have the money to make it happen.”
Brief profile of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman
The 36-year-old has been Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia since June 2017 and is also the country’s deputy prime minister, Chairman of the Council for Economic and Development Affairs, Chairman of the Council of Political and Security Affairs, and Minister of Defense. Bin Salman is estimated to have a personal fortune of around £13 billion ($17.6bn), which would place him just behind Manchester City supremo Sheikh Mansour on a list of the Premier League’s richest owners.
Newcastle join the Rich Owners Club
In a list of 10 clubs with the richest owners in the world compiled by The Daily Mail, Newcastle are well out in front:
10. Guo Guangchang – Wolves (£5.2bn)
9. Zhang Jindong – Inter Milan (£6.2bn)
8. Stan Kroenke – Arsenal (£6.8bn)
7. Philip Anschutz – LA Galaxy (£8.1bn)
6. Roman Abramovich – Chelsea (£10.5bn)
5. Andrea Agnelli – Juventus (£14bn)
4. Dietrich Mateschitz – RB Leipzig and RB Salzburg (£15.7bn)
3. Sheikh Mansour – Manchester City (£21bn)
2. Qatar Investment Authority – PSG (£220bn)
1. Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund – £320bn
Written by: Samuel Ofosu Kyei Manford (Accra, Ghana)