Premier League hits back at Newcastle owner Mike Ashley and labels Saudi takeover claims 'incorrect'

Newcastle owner hit out. atPremier League chief executive over the recent collapse of the Saudi Arabian-backed takeover bid

Jack de Menezes
Sports News Correspondent
Thursday 10 September 2020 15:17
Newcastle's Saudi Arabia takeover collapses

The Premier League has hit back at Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley, labelling his accusation that they blocked the collapsed Saudi Arabian takeover as “incorrect” and shifting the blame back onto the Public Investment Fund-backed consortium for failing to produce the “appropriate information”.

Ashley issued a statement via Newcastle on Wednesday night criticising the Premier League and its chief executive Richard Masters, and confirmed that it is taking legal advice over any possible action it may take.

But in response to the claims, a Premier League statement read: “The Premier League was disappointed and surprised by the Newcastle United Football Club statement regarding its potential takeover by PCP Capital Partners, the Reuben Brothers and the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia (PIF).

“The club’s assertion that the Premier League has rejected the takeover is incorrect.

“The Premier League Board has, on a number of occasions, given its opinion about which entities it believes would have control over the club should the consortium proceed with the acquisition. That opinion is based on legal advice.  

“This means the potential takeover could proceed to the next stage should the relevant entities provide all appropriate information. They would then be subject to a suitability assessment by the Board. As an alternative, the Board has repeatedly offered independent arbitration as a way forward since June.

“It is also incorrect to suggest these decisions were taken by any individual; they were agreed unanimously by all Premier League Board members.”

Ashley was spotted arriving at Newcastle’s Benton training ground on Wednesday shortly before the club statement was released, in which it pinned the takeover collapse on the Premier League’s Owners and Directors test. The club argued that the was “overwhelming evidence: that the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia was “independent and autonomous” from the country’s government, and accused Masters of not acting “appropriately” in regards to the takeover process.

A Newcastle statement read: "Newcastle United can confirm that the Premier League has rejected a takeover bid made by PCP Capital Partners, the Reuben Brothers and the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia (PIF) based on its Owners and Directors test.

"This conclusion has been reached despite the club providing the Premier League with overwhelming evidence and legal opinions that PIF is independent and autonomous of the Saudi Arabian government.

"The club and its owners do not accept that Premier League chief executive Richard Masters and the Premier League have acted appropriately in relation to this matter and will be considering all relevant options available to them.

"Mike Ashley understands fans' frustrations and would like to reassure them that he has been fully committed to ensuring this takeover process reached completion as he felt it was in the best interests of the club. Mike continues to be fully supportive to Steve Bruce, the players and all the staff and wishes them well for the upcoming season."

The takeover process collapsed after a 17-week wait, with the Premier League seeking clarification on links to the Saudi government and also television piracy of match coverage in the Middle East.

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