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The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Saudi-backed bid for Newcastle United withdrawn: reports

Concerns about Crown Prince Mohammed reportedly stalled the deal [Getty]

Date of publication: 30 July, 2020

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The controversial £300 million buy-out bid had been the subject of intense speculation since its announcement in 2019.

A takeover bid for Newcastle United by a consortium backed by the Saudi sovereign wealth fund has been withdrawn after weeks of waiting for the Premier League's approval, according to a media report on Thursday.

In a joint statement reported by Sky Sports, the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF), PCP Capital Partners and RB Sports & Media said: "With a deep appreciation for the Newcastle community and the significance of its football club, we have come to the decision to withdraw our interest in acquiring Newcastle United Football Club."

Earlier this month, British lawmakers questioned the Premier League's chief about Saudi Arabia's £300 million ($390,930,000) buy-out bid, after the decision was delayed by 14 weeks due to piracy and human rights concerns.

Premier League Chief Executive Richard Masters admitted to MPs that a decision would have been "complicated" due to a World Trade Organisation (WTO) ruling slamming Saudi Arabia for its connections to pirate sports channels beoutQ and the PIF's head's - Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman - links to gross human rights abuses.

"Sometimes things get complicated. There are legal requirements in place that need to be observed," Masters said at the time.

Saudi Arabia's controversial bid for Newcastle was also stalled by concerns over Crown Prince Mohammed's links to human rights abuses, including the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Also of concern are the huge number of activists and perceived opponents of the crown prince who have been disappeared, including women rights' activists.

Human rights groups slammed the PIF's bid to buy-out the club, saying it would have been a greenlight for Saudi Arabia to continue its human rights abuses and allow it to partake in "sports washing".

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