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Premier League created impossible Catch 22 Newcastle United takeover situation for Saudis – Report

2 years ago

A new report has revealed that the Premier League created an impossible Catch 22 situation for the Saudi PIF when trying to get approval for the Newcastle United takeover situation for Saudis.

The report from The Mail saying that the situation revolved around a key Premier League form in the owners and directors test regarding club control and ownership.

Specifically, the 80% stake in the club that made up the Saudi PIF share of the proposed ownership.

The newspaper stating that the ‘Newcastle United takeover collapsed in a stalemate over whether the Saudi Arabian state would be in control of the club after the deal went through.’

What seemed like inertia on the Premier League’s part was in fact an impasse, with the League refusing to recognise the Saudi Arabia PIF as different to or independent from the state, given that its chairman, Mohammed bin Salman, is also the de facto head of Saudi Arabia.

They say that the Premier League wished insisted that the bidders acknowledged a definite link between the Saudi Arabian state and Newcastle United, rather than the Saudi PIF and NUFC.

This is why the takeover dragged on interminably according to the newspaper, the Premier League refusing to approve unless the Saudis accepted this, whilst the bidders found this an impossible and unrealistic thing to do and expect.

Indeed, this simply backs up what Amanda Staveley said two weeks ago to The Athletic after the takeover collapsed:

“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’.

“The Premier League made it so hard. It would be unprecedented.

“No country has ever become a director of a club. It’s ridiculous.”

However, what is very interesting in this piece from The Mail and additional to what Ms Staveley said, is the explanation of how the Premier League then used this issue to manoeuvre the Saudi PIF bidders into a classic Catch 22 position.

With the Premier League refusing repeatedly to make a decision on approving the takeover or not, they then went down the route of appearing to be reasonable but in reality not, as they offered to put the issue into arbitration. As to whether or not the Saudi state, rather than Saudi PIF, would have been seen as the 80% owner of Newcastle United.

As Amanda Staveley said, this was completely unreasonable and unprecedented anyway, something nobody else had been requested to do when taking over a PL club.

The Saudis then left in that Catch 22 position.

If they refused independent arbitration then the Premier League would continue to refuse to make a decision themselves.

If they accepted independent arbitration they would then be tied into a process about who would be seen as owning Newcastle (Saudi PIF or Saudi state) that they would then have no control of.  The Mail saying that then if the independent arbitrator had ruled the Saudi state as the owner, that would have given the Premier League the right to call Newcastle’s ownership to account over the TV piracy by beoutQ, which would then be used as the excuse to stop the takeover.

For Newcastle fans who have seen a complete lack of transparency and clarity from the Premier League, with also some very worrying accusations flying around regarding claims over certain parties having influence that shouldn’t have, especially other clubs. Plus the fact that the Premier League have seemingly done anything but simply follow their own rulebook on this Newcastle United takeover. Supporters will have every sympathy with those bidding to buy the club, refusing to put their head into the lion’s jaw, of being asked to agree to an unreasonable request to agree to (presumably binding) arbitration, that nobody else has ever been asked to go through, on the question of who would be the ultimate owner of a Premier League club.

Yasir Al-Rumayyan is the governor of the Saudi PIF and he was going to be the Director representing their interests at Newcastle United, the Premier League instead wanting to insist that Mohammed bin Salman be the one seen as in personal control of the shareholding, as Chairman of the Saudi PIF but also crucially, the head of the Saudi Arabian state.

It is a total joke.

If the Premier League was some kind of highly regulated and respected entity ran with integrity, you could make a case for what they have done, maybe.

However, the Premier League was created in 1992 for very specific reasons, to make as much money as possible and with as few binding regulations as possible to hamper that process, plus have as little clarity as possible and overwhelming power put in the hands of a powerful small number of clubs. Over 80 MPs have now written to the Premier League calling for them to come out and give answers, give clarity and transparency about what has gone on with this Newcastle United takeover, as has the Independent Football Ombudsman and the Prime Minister.

Can this cowboy outfit at the Premier League really believe they don’t have to answer to anybody?

In Germany, the Bundesliga would never have allowed the Saudi PIF to take control in the way they have wanted to do so at Newcastle United. However, neither would they have allowed the shocking way the Glazers were allowed to purchase Man Utd, nor allow the Chinese control of Wolves and Southampton, nor the Russian control of Chelsea, never mind what Man City were allowed to do by the Premier League.


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