The ink had barely dried on the contracts confirming the Saudi-led takeover of Newcastle United before fans were celebrating the news.
Hundreds of supporters gathered around St James’ Park, the imposing stadium which looms over the centre of the city, to cheer both the exit of the long-despised Mike Ashley and the arrival of new hope in the form of fresh investment in the club.
“We’ve got our club back,” fans sang, as the £300m takeover was announced in a statement by the Premier League, bringing 14 years of Ashley’s ownership to an end. One came dressed as the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud.
The Premier League insisted it had ratified the deal after receiving “legally binding assurances” that the Saudi state would not control the club, despite the fact that Mohammed bin Salman is chairs the sovereign wealth fund fronting the takeover.
His Public Investment Fund (PIF) has provided 80 per cent of funds for the £300m takeover, with the other 20 per cent split between PCP Capital Partners, chaired by British businesswoman Amanda Staveley, and the finance and investment company Reuben Brothers.
Both Staveley and Jamie Reuben will have a seat on the board, while the PIF’s governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan will be a non-executive director of the club.
Fans were also pictured congratulating Mehrdad Ghodoussi, the husband and business partner of Staveley, as the news was announced. “Absolute hero,” one said. “This is the best thing that’s ever happened to Newcastle. What a man. Thanks for sticking by us.” Ghodoussi replied: “It’s just the beginning, guys.”
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