Newcastle United takeover falls through as Saudi group pulls out

Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund, PCP Capital Partners and Reuben Brothers have withdrawn from the process to buy English Premier League club Newcastle United.

A reported 300 million pound bid to buy Newcastle United was made in April this year.   -  REUTERS

A Saudi Arabian-backed consortium has ended its interest in taking over English Premier League side Newcastle United, Sky Sports reported on Thursday.

The group, which included Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund PIF, PCP Capital Partners and Reuben Brothers, was reported to have made a 300 million pounds ($391 million) bid to buy United from British businessman Mike Ashley.

“With a deep appreciation for the Newcastle community and the significance of its football club, we have come to the decision to withdraw our interest in acquiring Newcastle United Football Club,” the group said in a statement to Sky Sports.

READ| Newcastle takeover: Britain's sports minister 'uncomfortable' with expectation of involvement

The Premier League's board had been carrying out an examination of the proposed takeover as part of its “owners and directors test”, which evaluates the suitability of ownership groups.

However, the league's CEO Richard Masters suggested last month that the proposed takeover had become complicated.

“Ultimately, during the unforeseeably prolonged process, the commercial agreement between the Investment Group and the club's owners expired and our investment thesis could not be sustained,” the group said in the statement.

The investor group added that the situation had been complicated by a lack of clarity on the circumstances under which the next season would start and new norms that would arise for matches, training and other activities.

One of the issues raised by critics of the proposed deal was Saudi Arabia's response to cases of unauthorised broadcasting of Premier League games in the country.

Last month, a World Trade Organization panel told Saudi Arabia it had breached global rules on intellectual property rights by failing to prosecute a pirate broadcaster of sports and movies in a dispute with Gulf neighbour Qatar regarding the BeoutQ channel, which broadcast Premier League games.

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