The Saudi-led purchase of Newcastle United could be completed within the next fortnight.
A £300million deal to buy the Magpies is in its final stages, with the Premier League’s owners and directors test the final hurdle in the process.
It is understood that, despite letters being sent to the Premier League from Amnesty International and broadcaster beIN SPORTS within the last week, no one connected to the takeover has been asked questions by the league about the issues of human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia, ‘sportwashing’ or allegations of TV rights piracy linked to the Saudi state.
Culture secretary Oliver Dowden told a Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee hearing last week that the final decision on the takeover rested with the league, after calls from the committee to intervene.
Without a sudden shift in UK policy towards Saudi Arabia at a political or international trade level it seems unlikely the takeover will be rejected.
Premier League chief executive Richard Masters, in a response to the letter from Amnesty, said the league’s processes ‘go beyond those required by UK company law’ and are applied ‘with equal rigour’ to all clubs, and on an objective rather than subjective basis.
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Yasir Al Rumayyan, the governor of the Saudi Arabian public investment fund (PIF) which will take an 80 per cent stake in the club should the deal go through, would become chairman.
Crucially though, it is understood there will be no knee-jerk decisions regarding other senior staff either on the business or the football side, which includes manager Steve Bruce.
The club’s managing director Lee Charnley will be leaving the club after a handover period.
Supporters can expect significant investment in the playing staff but also in other areas, though the new owners are said to be very mindful of the requirements to meet financial fair play regulations both at domestic and European level.
Ashley, the current owner of Newcastle, has been paid a non-refundable £17million deposit from the new owners, with the remaining £283m due on completion.
As well as the Saudi PIF, 10 per cent of the club will be owned by PCP Capital Partners and the remaining 10 per cent by the Reuben brothers.
Newcastle’s new owners will be the richest in the Premier League and former striker Demba Ba believes they will be transformed into one of the world’s biggest clubs.
“If that goes through, I will be very happy because Newcastle is a club I love a lot,” said Ba, who scored 29 goals in 58 appearances for the Toon Army.
“I have spent a very great time there and if this goes through it’s going to be another top team.
“I’m not going to say top club because Newcastle is already a top club, but it’s going to be another top team, fighting for the title, fighting for the Champions League, and it’s going to be only great for the Premier League and for Newcastle also.”