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Newcastle United’s owners turned down offer to buy stake in Premier League team

Chairman Yasir Al-Rumayyan has revealed that the country’s Public Investment Fund was offered the chance to invest in clubs across Europe

Newcastle United chairman Yasir Al-Rumayyan with part owner Amanda Staveley in the stands. Photo: PA/Reuters

Luke EdwardsTelegraph.co.uk

Newcastle United’s Saudi Arabian owners say they turned down the chance to buy a £700million (€804.4m), 30pc stake in another Premier League team, believed to be Manchester United.

Chairman Yasir Al-Rumayyan has revealed that the country’s Public Investment Fund was offered the chance to invest in clubs across Europe, including the Premier League, Italy and France, before buying Newcastle for £350 million (€402m).

While Al-Rumayyan did not specify where the offer came from, the club in question is thought to be Manchester United with the Glazer family willing to take the money from the PIF but not give the Saudis any say in the running of the club.

Unsurprisingly, the people controlling Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, which is chaired by the country’s de facto ruler and new Prime Minister, Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, were not sold on the idea.

Instead, PIF launched a takeover bid for Newcastle in January 2020, with the Premier League finally signing off on the deal 18 months later after the Kingdom agreed to stop the piracy of international sporting events and paid compensation to Middle East rights holders Bein Sports.

“When we looked at it, we looked at it from a financial perspective,” Al-Rumayyan said on a podcast in Saudi Arabia. “By the way, it wasn’t the first offer we got regarding a football team. We looked in Italy, France and the UK as well.

“For example, in the UK there was a team that approached us on the basis that we take 30pc of the ownership, and we don’t interfere at all in terms of managing the club, for £700m (€804.4m).”

PIF walked away from the deal and instead turned their attention to one of the sleeping giants of English football in Newcastle United.

PIF, probably wary of negative publicity, went into partnership with English financier Amanda Staveley and property magnates the Reuben family, with Al-Rumayyan revealing both parties were keen to “have skin in the game”.

He explained: “Football, of course, is one of the most important sports there is. Whether domestically (in Saudi) or abroad. It’s the number one sport in the world.

“And why the English Premier League? Because it’s the best league in the world. No other league competes with it.

“There are 20 teams, three are relegated and three are promoted. The advantage of the Premier League is that any of the 20 teams can beat the best team in the league.

“We bought Newcastle, who offered us 100pc of the ownership. But Amanda Staveley and her husband, who got us the opportunity, told us, ‘We like it so much, we would like to be with you’. That was perfect

“We bought the whole team for £350m, instead of only having 30pc in another team for £700m.”

Having already spent more than £200m (229.7m) on nine new players in just two transfer windows, the intention is to turn Newcastle into one of the major forces in European football and raise the club’s value to the same sort of level as Chelsea and Manchester United.

The former was sold over the summer for £4.25bn (€4.88bn) by Russian Roman Abramovich (a £3.5bn sale plus promise of further investment) and, presumably, that is what the Saudi consortium would also look to do at some point to get a return on their investment.

Al-Rumayyan added: “You can see Chelsea was sold for £3.5bn (€4bn). So, my potential now is to go from £350m to at least £3.5bn.”


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