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Opinion

Do Newcastle United fans deserve a lot more now from the Saudi PIF consortium 19 days on?

1 month ago
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It is 19 days since the Saudi PIF consortium released their statement.

Thursday 30 July seeing the statement (read it below) made public to media and supporters alike, that they were pulling their offer to buy Newcastle United.

The question is, do Newcastle United fans deserve a lot more now from the Saudi PIF consortium, in terms of answers on what the situation  is and what they now intend to do, if anything.

Newcastle fans are used to being kept totally in the dark by Mike Ashley but do they deserve to expect more from the group who were trying to buy the club?

Throughout the whole process, the Saudi PIF consortium were keen to engage with Newcastle fans and this was the case especially after that released statement 19 days ago.

Amanda Staveley speaking to The Athletic – Thursday 30 July 2020:

“The Premier League wanted the country, Saudi, to become a director of the football club.

“That’s what this is about. They were effectively saying ‘PIF wouldn’t be the ultimate beneficial owner, we believe it’s actually the government, therefore we want the country to become a director’, which puts them in an impossible situation.

“They feel they weren’t wanted by the Premier League. I hope the fans realise what’s happened, that this is a lot more complicated than it might seem.

“I want them to understand the whole thing about the directorship, that it would be impossible for a state to become a director.

“The Premier League made it so hard. It would be unprecedented. No country has ever become a director of a club. It’s ridiculous.

“They were saying ‘you know what, we won’t reject you but we won’t approve you either, so we’ll just sit here for month after month’.

“They could have told us all this before we exchanged. It’s up to the fans now. Because if the fans want this back on then they’re going to have to go to the Premier League and say this isn’t fair.”

The Newcastle fans responded so well, over 100,000 signing a petition asking for an independent investigation into the takeover process, whilst more importantly, over 80 MPs were successfully lobbied to write to the Premier League asking for transparency and explanation of what had gone on, in their 17 weeks of refusing to come to a decision on the NUFC takeover. The Independent Football Ombudsman and the Prime Minister also saying that the Premier League had to make a statement on the matter.

Richard Masters and the Premier League eventually did feel left with no other alternative but to try and make their case / defence, a statement / letter released on Friday (14 August 2020).

The Newcastle fans forcing the Premier League to commit themselves with an explanation.

On Friday night, we had this response from the Saudi PIF side of things, via Sky Sports.

Keith Downie of Sky Sports via Twitter – Friday 14 August 2020:

“A source close to PIF has told Sky Sports News tonight that the consortium provided written assurances from the highest possible government department, notably the Saudi Royal Court, that the Kingdom would have no influence over the running of NUFC.

“The source close to Saudi-led group told Sky Sports News it was impossible for them to offer any further detail about the independence of the consortium from the State.

“Source added that the idea the group were holding back information was “bizarre”.

“Our source claims the consortium were only offered arbitration on the single point regarding the question of how much influence the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia would have on the day-to-day running of the football club.”

When the bid to buy NUFC was pulled 19 days ago, Amanda Staveley came out and said pretty much the same.

So is that going to be it?

If the consortium really believe that the Premier League have broken their own rules on this Newcastle United takeover saga, then the Saudi PIF side need to pursue it legally.

Otherwise, what was the point of Amanda Staveley calling the Newcastle United fans to arms?

The fans were always only going to be able to do so much and now that the fans have forced the Premier League into committing to that statement on Friday, it is next move for the Saudi PIF consortium.

Putting out a few lines of quotes from an anonymous source through Sky Sports…

The Newcastle fans deserve far better.

If the Saudi PIF consortium really do want to own Newcastle United and feel they are in the right, they need to now action that.

Alternatively, we need another public statement from the Saudi PIF bidders, stating exactly why they aren’t going to push for the takeover now.

They can’t just repeat those lines about the Premier League asking for something unreasonable. Either the Premier League followed their rule book or didn’t.

The Saudi PIF consortium issued the following statement on 30 July 2020:

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.

We do so with regret, as we were excited and fully committed to invest in the great city of Newcastle and believe we could have returned the Club to the position of its history, tradition and fans’ merit.

Unfortunately, the prolonged process under the current circumstances coupled with global uncertainty has rendered the potential investment no longer commercially viable.

To that end, we feel a responsibility to the fans to explain the lack of alternatives from an investment perspective.

As an autonomous and purely commercial investor, our focus was on building long-term value for the Club, its fans and the community as we remained committed to collaboration, practicality and proactivity through a difficult period of global uncertainty and significant challenges for the fans and the Club.

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, particularly with no clarity as to the circumstances under which the next season will start and the new norms that will arise for matches, training and other activities.

As often occurs with proposed investments in uncertain periods, time itself became an enemy of the transaction, particularly during this difficult phase marked by the many real challenges facing us all from Covid-19.

We feel great compassion for the Newcastle United fans with whom we shared a great commitment to help Newcastle United harness its tremendous potential and build upon its impressive and historic legacy while working closely with the local community.

We would like to say that we truly appreciated your incredible expressions of support and your patience throughout this process. We are sorry it is not to be.

We wish the team and everyone associated with it much good luck and success.’

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