Newcastle takeover held up over 'lack of clarity' regarding ownership
The proposed Saudi Arabia-backed takeover of Newcastle United, the English Premier League soccer club, has been held up due of a lack of clarity over who will be running the club, it has been reported.
The Premier League is continuing to carry out its owners and directors test more than four months after a £300 million ($386 million) deal was agreed between Newcastle owner Mike Ashley and the consortium fronted by British financier Amanda Staveley and 80 per cent financed by the Saudi Public Investment Fund.
But it is understood the league is seeking more details about who will have control at the club before it can approve the deal, according to BBC Sport.
The length of the ratification process, which is taking considerably longer than the typical four weeks, has cast huge doubts over the controversial deal and if the league will ultimately rubber-stamp the takeover.
Saudi Arabia’s links to piracy has continued to put the takeover in jeopardy, with a significant ruling from the World Trade Organisation last month deeming the country’s government responsible for piracy of broadcasts carried out by beoutQ, a network based in the country.
The BBC reports that the Premier League's lawyers have, as yet, struggled to establish the precise links between the consortium and the Saudi government.
Premier League chief executive Richard Masters recently said he was hopeful the process relating to the takeover would be “concluded shortly” but was warned by a UK member of Parliament that it would be “humiliating” to allow it to go through.
With the season now concluded, there is likely to be an increased urgency for the league to come to a decision with the 2020-21 campaign set to begin in less than seven weeks.
Newcastle recently received a late £350 million takeover bid from Henry Mauriss, a US businessman and television executive, in an attempt to hijack the deal if the Premier League rejects the Saudi consortium.
Mauriss could have an opportunity to swoop in with the BBC reporting that an exclusivity clause held between Ashley and the Saudi-backed consortium has now come to an end.
Meanwhile, the sovereign wealth fund of Bahrain has acquired a 20 per cent minority stake in Paris FC, the second-tier French club.
The Ligue 2 outfit said the Kingdom of Bahrain will become a strategic partner through its sovereign fund and will “strengthen the club’s capital.”
The 20 per cent stake is understood to be worth €5 million and values the club at €25 million.
Pierre Ferracci remains the majority owner with a 77 per cent stake.
In addition, the Middle East country has taken over as the principal sponsor of Paris FC with its ‘Explore Bahrain’ tourism slogan to feature on the front of the team’s shirts to in an effort to promote the country in France and Europe.
The club also revealed it is seeking further outside investment and expects to announce a new investor “in the coming months”.
As part of the agreement, the club will expand its youth academy and also provide support in the development of coaches and young players in Bahrain.
Paris FC, which finished 17th in the cancelled Ligue 2 last season, are aiming to achieve promotion to the top-flight within the next three years.
There is already a significant Middle East presence in soccer in the city with Paris Saint-Germain, the dominant club in the French capital, having been owned by Qatar Sports Investments since 2011.