By Tony Winterburn • 26 April 2020 • 11:16
Newcastle’s £300m Saudi-led takeover will face renewed scrutiny this week as human rights concerns have already been raised over the new Saudi owners, this came after the news of 37 Saudi nationals across the kingdom this week were beheaded, a move that was heavily condemned by the UN human rights organisation.
Who is buying Newcastle United?
Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), which is headed up by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, is the main mover behind the bid to purchase Newcastle United from Ashley. It has been reported that the takeover plans will see the Saudi PIF acquire an 80 per cent stake in the club.
Fresh questions have also been raised over the influence that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman might have over Sheffield United.
It is believed that the Premier League initially raised no red flags to the £300 million takeover in preliminary discussions with Staveley’s PCP Partners, but there are now a raft of complex issues that may slow any approval.
TV piracy issues
The Premier League’s major worry is opposition to the takeover from beIN SPORTS, one of their biggest TV partners. It says its exclusive TV feed had been stolen and shown for free. It is understood that Sky, the Premier League’s biggest TV partner, had previously written to the US government in support of beIN SPORTS. Newcastle United’s potential news owners face fresh scrutiny over human rights record. The Saudi takeover, led by Amanda Staveley, is preparing a PR push to address concerns.
Premier League could be “greatly stained”
The reputational damage to the Premier League is expected to be considerable if the deal is approved, after Hatice Cengiz, the fiancee of murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was tortured, killed and dismembered by Saudi agents inside their Turkish embassy, said the takeover would ‘greatly stain’ the Premier League.
The UN human rights chief on Wednesday condemned the beheadings of 37 Saudi nationals across the kingdom this week, saying most were minority Shi’ite Muslims who may not have had fair trials and at least three were minors when sentenced.
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