After 18 months of protracted negotiations, a Saudi consortium led by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund has successfully purchased England’s Newcastle United soccer team. The Premier League overcame a major final hurdle on Thursday when it received legally binding assurances from the Saudi kingdom guaranteeing “separation” and that it will not control the 128-year-old soccer club.
The reported £300 million ($409 million) purchase ends British billionaire businessman Mike Ashley’s 14-year ownership of the team, giving the Saudi consortium 80 percent ownership, with a further 10% going to property developers Simon and David Reuben and another 10% going to British investor Amanda Staveley’s PCP Capital Partners.
Concerns over the Saudi state’s participation in the English team’s affairs were a major roadblock to the Saudi Public Investment Fund’s purchase of the English team. A prior takeover agreement was scrapped in 2020 because the consortium failed to demonstrate adequate separation from the Saudi government, commanded by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Another impediment to the Saudi-led group acquiring Newcastle United was removed on Thursday: A broadcasting complaint from beIN Sport, the Middle Eastern Premier League rights holder in neighbouring Qatar, demanding that Saudi Arabia lift its four-year ban on the sport channel.