London: English Premier League clubs are in turmoil after a Saudi Arabia-led consortium took over Newcastle United, ending the previous owner Mike Ashley’s 14-year-old ownership of the club. The clubs are angry that the Premier League, which had told them a few weeks back that the matter — stuck in a legal battle for months –will be settled in January, easily agreed to the takeover of Newcastle by a consortium with close links to Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), without consulting them.
The £300m takeover was confirmed by the Premier League in a statement last week and the process has been completed on Monday with news spreading in the British media that the new owners want to sack manager, Steve Bruce. Former Liverpool manager Brendon Rodgers is tipped to be the frontrunner to take over charge at St James’ Park. The investment group is led by the Public Investment Fund (PIF) and also comprises PCP Capital Partners and RB Sports & Media.
Premier League clubs are reportedly ‘angry’ at the league over the takeover of Newcastle United and have demanded an emergency meeting.
The Saudi Arabian takeover of Newcastle has been in the pipeline for a couple of years but had been turned down previously by the league. There are concerns in many circles over the involvement of the Saudi Arabia Government, especially of Saudi crown prince Mohammed Bin Salman, in the deal and their eventual take over of the iconic club.
Last week, the deal was back on, after Saudi Arabia and Qatar came to an agreement over the streaming of the latter’s beIN Sport football coverage, and last Thursday the deal by the Saudi Public Investment Fund to buy out Mike Ashley was confirmed.
The Premier League in its statement confirming the deal said it had received “legally binding assurances” that the Kingdon of Saudi Arabia will not control Newcastle United.
Human rights groups have also expressed their anger over the alleged involvement of the Saudi Arabia government and bin Salman in the deal considering the alleged involvement of the crown prince in the assassination of journalist Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a critic of bin Salman. And also the overall poor record of the Saudi Arabia government over human rights.
On the pitch though, a new billionaire is likely to mean inflated transfer and contract prices in the league and undoubtedly this will upset some of the clubs in the Premier League. The Magpies have already been linked with a whole new squad of players in the past few days, with the club reportedly allowed to spend up to £200 million in January without breaking financial fair play rules.
As of now nearly 11 clubs in the Premier League are owned by foreigners including Manchester United by the American Glazer family and Manchester City by Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan of the Emirates Royal Family. And considering the impact of Par’s Saint-Germain’s Qatari takeover by Nasser Al-Khelaifi, Premier League clubs have all the reasons to be worried. The football transfer market is already quite inflated the entry of the Saudi will only add to the troubles of the remaining clubs.