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Now time for Saudi PIF consortium to press the button as Premier League have put them on the stand

1 month ago
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On Friday morning I put together the article entitled: ‘Saudi PIF consortium now ready to take on Premier League and accept baton passed by Newcastle fans?’

On Friday dinner time (lunchtime if you live south of civilisation) The Mag published it.

Within a few hours we all discovered that Richard Masters and the Premier League had at last emerged from their London HQ bunker, replying to Newcastle fans, MPs, Boris Johnson and the Independent Football Ombudsman.

The letter from Richard Masters was addressed to and made public by Chi Onwurah.

Chi is the Newcastle Central MP (a constituency which includes SJP) and she had asked a number of questions on behalf of Newcastle fans / constituents in her letter to Richard Masters, the PL CEO in his reply (see HERE) today saying he was answering Ms Onwurah’s questions and those same answers would be circulating to the many others who had wrote to him / them (Premier League), including the other 80+ MPs.

This eventual offering from the Premier League and Richard Masters has predictably not brought any kind of an end to the matter, indeed, most Newcastle fans and MPs probably have even more questions they would like answered now, not all of them (needing to be answered) by the Premier League.

In a nutshell, the PL / Masters served up two reasons why the Newcastle United takeover went on and on without a conclusion.

The Premier League insisted that the ultimate owner of the 80% proposed NUFC shareholding had to be the Saudi state, rather than the Saudi PIF.

Then the question of the TV piracy issue was still a problem for the Premier League that had to be sorted (Especially so if the Saudi state were seen to be the ultimate owner of the 80% shareholding…).

The Premier League then taking the moral high ground with the revelation that they had offered to refer the question of ownership (Saudi state or Saudi PIF) to an independent tribunal.

Not that any of the above was a revelation, as these main thrusts of the Richard Masters letter had previously been leaked to and made public by Martin Samuel writing in The Mail (see HERE) on Thursday.

Indeed, the big sticking point Master refers to was actually made public by Amanda Staveley 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.

“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.”

Rightly or wrongly, the consortium regarded that move by the Premier League as ‘ridiculous’ and therefore no surprise that they refused the offer to go to an independent tribunal to decide the matter. Not saying they were necessarily right to refuse but they would have been entering a binding independent arbitration process which could prevent them taking over NUFC and which they would have no control over.

It may not feel like it to many Newcastle fans but I think Friday has seen a massive step forward.

After the Saudi PIF consortium roused the fans into action, there has been a relentless campaign from Newcastle fans to provoke a reaction from the Premier League.

We now have that response, job done (by the fans).

Now it is time for the Saudi PIF consortium to press the button, if they have any substance behind them.

If what the Premier League is putting up as their reasons for not progressing / approving the takeover doesn’t stand up legally, if they have acted beyond / against their own rulebook, then the Saudi PIF lawyers need to do their thing.

It has been unacceptable for the Premier League to stay silent for so long, now all eyes have turned to the Saudi PIF consortium.

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