Mauriss favourite to buy Newcastle after Saudi-backed consortium withdraws
Henry Mauriss, a US businessman and television executive, is now the favourite buy English Premier League soccer clubNewcastle United after a proposed £300 million (£389 million) takeover by a Saudi Arabian-led consortium collapsed.
Yesterday, after months of delays, the consortium, which included Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund PIF, businesswomen Amanda Staveley’s PCP Capital Partners and UK property moguls the Reuben Brothers, announced it had ended its bid to buy the club.
Under the consortium’s plan, Staveley was to run the business on behalf of the consortium but the Premier League reportedly had concerns over the involvement of the Saudi state and a lack of clarity over who will be running the club, spending more than four months assessing them under its owners and directors test. The ratification process usually takes up to four weeks.
The takeover was further complicated by a World Trade Organisation report released last month which said representatives of the Saudi state had facilitated the pirate network beoutQ, which illegally broadcasts a host of sporting events, including Premier League matches.
Saudi Arabia has now appealed against the ruling after first claiming the ruling was in its favour.
The governing body was also lobbied by BeIN, the pay-television broadcaster and rights holder of the Premier League in the MENA region, which has led the charge against beoutQ and Saudi Arabia and advised against the approval of the bid.
Frustrated by the impasse, Staveley, who fronted the bid, announced the consortium was pulling out of the bid, blaming the Premier League for its continued scrutiny and rival clubs for opposing the buyout
Speaking to The Athletic, she said: “The Premier League wanted the country, Saudi, to become a director of the football club. That’s what this is about.
“They were effectively saying ‘PIF wouldn’t be the ultimate beneficial owner, we believe it’s actually the government, therefore we want the country to become a director’, which puts them in an impossible situation.
“They feel they weren’t wanted by the Premier League. They were saying ‘you know what, we won’t reject you but we won’t approve you either, so we’ll just sit here for month after month.”
The consortium’s withdrawal has now paved the way for a takeover by US entrepreneur Mauriss, who made an 11th hour bid for the club in June for £50 million more than the £300 million agreed between the consortium and current owner Mike Ashley.
At the time, it was reported that Mauriss, who owns US television company ClearTV, would be looking to complete a deal before the start of the 2020-21 Premier League season.
Ashley has remained in talks with Mauriss since the start of the month after an exclusivity clause in the deal with the Saudi’s expired, according to the Daily Telegraph newspaper.