Newcastle fans protest loudly outside Downing Street, demanding answers from the Government and Premier League over their ‘lack of transparency’ as to why £300m Saudi-led takeover fell through
- Newcastle fans protested about their failed takeover bid at 10 Downing Street
- The Saudi-led deal was rejected by the top-flight and was botched in July 2020
- The fans are angry with the league about a lack of transparency over why it failed
- The supporters held up banners saying ‘What are the Premier League hiding?’
- Consortium member Amanda Staveley hit out at the Government over the issue
A group of Newcastle fans protested outside No 10 Downing Street on Friday demanding better communication as to why the club’s £300million Saudi takeover was rejected by the Premier League.
Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund – the the Public Investment Fund (PIF) – made a failed £300million takeover bid for the club last year, but the Premier League failed to approve the bid due to concerns over the links between the fund and the Saudi state.
The Saudis pulled out of the deal in late July 2020 after 17 weeks of waiting and blamed the Premier League for a lack of resolution, which has sparked fury among the Newcastle fanbase ever since.
On Friday, Magpies fans held up banners saying ‘What are the Premier League hiding Boris? #transparencyforfans’ and ‘The Premier League – run by the Big Six’ next to images of all of the biggest owners in England’s top division. Fans were also chanting ‘Newcastle, Newcastle’ outside the gates of Boris Johnson’s London office.
The second banner was a reference to the fact that five out of England’s ‘Big Six’ have seen foreign ownership approved by the Premier League in recent years, but their bid to have a Saudi-led owner was rejected.
A group of Newcastle fans protested against the Government and the Premier League over a lack of communication as to why the botched £300million takeover was rejected
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman would have owned the club had it gone through
The foreign owners highlighted by the Toon fans include Chelsea’s Roman Abramovich, Manchester City owner Sheikh Mansour, as well as Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United’s owners from the United States.
Newcastle lost a High Court case against the top-flight relating to potential ‘bias’ from a Premier League who was overseeing their proposed takeover bid. The club’s chiefs then hit out the division over a lack of transparency from the top-flight.
Had the deal gone through it would effectively have meant that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was the owner of the club. But the Premier League’s Ownership and Directors Test failed the consortium due to its fears over links to the Saudi state.
The buying consortium insisted that the PIF was separate from the state and Bin Salman was so enraged about a rejection that he warned the Prime Minister Johnson on June 27 last year that Anglo-Saudi relations would be damaged unless the buyout was approved.
Magpies fans held up banners accusing the Premier League of being run by the Big Six
PM Boris Johnson was urged by Bin Salman to force the Premier League to grant the takeover
Bin Salman urged Mr Johnson to ‘correct and reconsider’ a ‘wrong’ decision by the Premier League. The PM asked senior No 10 aide Lord Eddie Lister, a Middle East expert, to take up the complaint. Lord Lister said he would ‘investigate’.
The protests come after, earlier this month, consortium member Amanda Staveley sent a scathing email to the Government slamming the Premier League over the way they have handled the situation.
‘One might justifiably ask why that model is so favoured by those responsible for regulating the sport if they have nothing to hide,’ Staveley added in her letter to former Sports Minister Tracey Crouch MP.
Amanda Staveley sent a tough-talking email to the Government over how football is run
‘Fans surely deserve absolute transparency from the regulators across all their processes – to best ensure that they act responsibly.
‘They are performing a function like that of a government regulator – but without the same systems for accountability.
‘Now there is a chance for those involved (in the Newcastle bid) to be seen to take a robust stance – just as the government so decisively and effectively stepped into the European Super League debacle.’
In June, an official statement from Newcastle said: ‘Gone are the days when important decisions that affect clubs and their fans should be made secretly, behind closed doors and away from the public eye.’
The Premier League, run by Richard Masters, was criticised by Newcastle fans and chiefs
During the takeover negotiations, concerns were raised over Saudi Arabia’s poor human rights record. An example of these concerns was a US intelligence report earlier this year that stated Bin Salman approved and probably ordered the murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi in October 2018.
The Crown Prince has made some modernising changes to Saudi society, such as banning child marriage, reducing capital punishment and allowing female drivers.
However, the country’s involvement in the Yemen civil war is another point of contention.