Saudi-led group quits £300m Newcastle Utd takeover

A consortium led by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) has withdrawn its interest in acquiring Newcastle United football club in a £300 million deal.

The Premier League’s board had been carrying out an examination of the proposed takeover as part of its “owners and directors test” — which evaluates the suitability of ownership groups.

The collapse of the takeover proposal leaves businessman Mike Ashley in control of Newcastle — although media reports have suggested there may be a rival bid from American businessman Henry Mauriss. 

The consortium, which includes PCP Capital Partners and Reuben Brothers, said in a statement: “With a deep appreciation for the Newcastle community and the significance of its football club, we have come to the decision to withdraw our interest in acquiring Newcastle United Football Club …

“We do so with regret, as we were excited and fully committed to invest in the great city of Newcastle and believe we could have returned the club to the position of its history, tradition and fans’ merit. 

“Unfortunately, the prolonged process under the current circumstances coupled with global uncertainty has rendered the potential investment no longer commercially viable …

“Ultimately, during the unforeseeably prolonged process, the commercial agreement between the Investment Group and the club’s owners expired and our investment thesis could not be sustained …

“As often occurs with proposed investments in uncertain periods, time itself became an enemy of the transaction, particularly during this difficult phase marked by the many real challenges facing us all from COVID-19.”

The NUFC Supporters Trust said: “The supporters of Newcastle United have been treated with contempt by large parts of the football media and the Premier League during this failed takeover process.

“It’s been made clear that we are the least important people in a decision which affects us the most. We need answers.”

Amanda Staveley, the British businesswoman behind PCP Partners, told Reuters: “We are devastated for the fans.

“We really thank the fans — I personally thank them for all their support.”