By Prof Dr Ian Blackshaw
The sale of Newcastle United Football Club for £300 million to a Saudi Arabian backed consortium, agreed several months ago, has been delayed pending the English Premier League’s requirements for more clarity on who will be in charge of the Club after the sale is completed.
The bid for the Club is led by a British Financier, Amanda Staveley, with the Saudi Arabia Sovereign Wealth Public Investment Fund (PIF) taking an 80% stake.
The PIF Chairman is Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, who is the Deputy Prime Minister of Saudi Arabia, and lawyers for the Premier League need to establish the precise links between the Consortium and the Saudi Government. The Crown Prince has been described as an autocratic leader and, although, PIF Chairman, he is apparently not involved in its day-to-day running.
However, such verification by the Premier League lawyers is very important, given the allegations of television piracy involving the illegal streaming of sports events in the Middle East and claims of human rights abuses in the Kingdom. It may be mentioned that the Crown Prince has been linked with the assassination of the well-known Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. All these matters may affect the reputation and goodwill, built up and enjoyed by the Premier League, of which it is highly protective.
More than 97% of the Club’s fans are in favour of the Saudi-led deal, and Club Manager, Steve Bruce, has commented that: “We need a decision and we need one quickly.”
Furthermore, it is reported that there is also interest in the Club from the American businessman Henry Mauriss, who is willing to buy the Club for £350 million.
Once again, high finance and international politics are embroiling ‘the beautiful game!’
Prof Dr Ian Blackshaw may be contacted by e-mail at ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’