Newcastle: Boris Johnson urges Premier League to release statement over collapsed Saudi takeover

Prime Minister writes letter to the Newcastle United Supporters’ Trust to back calls for the Premier League to explain why the Saudi Arabia-backed takeover was not approved

Jack de Menezes
Sports News Correspondent
Saturday 08 August 2020 12:30
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Newcastle's Saudi Arabia takeover collapses

Boris Johnson has called on the Premier League to issue a statement explaining why the collapsed Newcastle United takeover was not either confirmed or rejected.

Nearly 100,000 fans have signed a petition calling on an independent investigation into the Premier League and its chief executive Richard Masters following the withdrawal of a £300m takeover offer for Newcastle, which collapsed at the end of last week due to the process being dragged out for more than four months.

The consortium bidding to take control of Newcastle from Mike Ashley was made up of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), PCP Capital Partners and the Reuben Brothers, with the Saudi involvement in a potential takeover causing a fierce backlash from critics of the country’s human rights record.

The fiancee of murdered journalist Jamal Khahoggi also called on the Premier League to block the takeover, while human rights organisation Amnesty expressed their opposition to Saudi’s involvement.

The PIF said that it was pulling out of takeover talks due to the “prolonged process” for the Premier League to make a decision, and after a fans’ petition gained traction, the matter was brought up by MPs.

It has resulted in the Prime Minister writing a letter to the Newcastle United Supporters’ Trust to support their calls for the Premier League to address the situation and give “clarity” on why the matter was not resolved.

The Independent Football Ombudsman, which was set up by the Premier League and Football League to investigate complaints, has advised the Premier League to release a statement regarding Newcastle’s collapsed takeover, but it has declined to comment.

"I appreciate that many Newcastle fans were hoping this takeover bid would go ahead and can understand their sense of disappointment," Johnson said.

"I have seen the recent email sent to Newcastle fans from the Independent Football Ombudsman and agree with their conclusion that the Premier League should make a statement on this case. I am pleased that the Ombudsman has committed to advising the Premier League to provide a statement.

"There must be clarity on why there was a significant delay in a decision being made, and on the reasons why the consortium decided to withdraw their bid."

Richard Masters has not commented on the takeover collapse 

The takeover contracts were in their 17th week of assessment with the Premier League when news of the collapse broke last Friday, which sees the club remain in control of under-fire owner Ashley ahead of the new season next month.

When contacted by The Independent, the Premier League declined to comment on Johnson’s letter.

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