Amanda Staveley’s consortium — comprising her company PCP Capital Partners (10 per cent), the billionaire Reuben brothers (10 per cent) and the 80 per cent majority stakeholding of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) – are privately confident that the £300m Newcastle United takeover will get the green signal from the Premier League.
In fact, they have reportedly paid a nonrefundable amount of 17m to Mike Ashley and will pay the remaining amount once the takeover is completed. All the paperwork have been submitted and surely they wouldn’t have taken these steps if they were not confident.
At the same time, there are obstacles.
According to reports from The Times, the Premier League lawyers are investigating Saudi Arabia’s involvement in pirate broadcasting of top-flight football after the accusation was raised by BeINSports.
BeINSports are English football’s biggest overseas broadcast partner. They have written to all Premier League clubs that the piracy should prevent the sale of Newcastle to the Saudi benefactor.
PL lawyers are scrutinising Saud involvement in pirate broadcasting of PL football to see if the takeover of #nufc should be blocked.
The league has an element of “queasiness” regarding the deal but fear a lawsuit if they block the sale for reasons not watertight. [Times] pic.twitter.com/tDZpSbBGBB
— NUFC 360 (@NUFC360) April 22, 2020
Although the UK culture secretary Oliver Dowden has suggested yesterday that the government will not intervene with the takeover process, The Times claim that the Premier League ‘have some queasiness’ about the takeover. Amnesty International has also protested because of Saudi Arabia’s record on human rights.
The Times report that the lawyers will focus on the league’s owners and the directors’ test, and the key decision will be regarding whether the accusation of piracy has a solid ground to reject the takeover.
The cause for concern is that the PIF is effectively the country’s sovereign wealth fund, and as a result, they could be disqualified even if they have been convicted of a crime. Involvement in piracy of matches can be viewed as an offence of dishonesty, although the Premier League has made unsuccessful attempts to prevent piracy in Saudi Arabia.