Newcastle takeover: Saudi-led group completes £300m purchase as Ashley’s 14-year ownership ends

Newcastle 2021-22Getty

Newcastle United are under new ownership, with a £300 million ($408m) deal led by a Saudi Arabian consortium being completed as Mike Ashley’s 14-year tenure at St James’ Park comes to a close.

Change behind the scenes on Tyneside had been mooted for some time, with several proposals speculated on down the years as a disgruntled fan base longed for fresh investment.

That has now arrived, amid talk of big-money signings and managerial tweaks, with a new era being welcomed in by Premier League heavyweights.

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What's been said?

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."

What is the deal for Newcastle?

Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund (PIF) have acquired an 80 per cent controlling stake in the Magpies, with Ashley’s controversial ownership coming to an end as a result.

With PIF providing 80% of the funds for a takeover, a deal has passed the Premier League’s owners’ and directors’ test regarding who is calling the shots at St James’ Park.

With a green light given by the English top-flight, following a breakdown in discussions back in July 2020, Newcastle can now start planning for what they hope will be a brighter future.

Staveley's PCP Capital Partners and the Reuben brothers are also among the partners that now hold the reins of an ambitious but success-starved outfit.

Opposition to the deal

While Magpies supporters have been crying out for someone to remove Ashley from office, a 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."

Who is 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.

The Public Investment Fund itself is reported to have assets in excess of £316 billion ($430 billion).

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