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Saudi PIF in regular contact with Mike Ashley, thought takeover finally done, knew about statement

2 weeks ago
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Mike Ashley and the proposed Saudi PIF Newcastle United takeover took yet another twist on Wednesday night.

An official statement from the NUFC owner (read below), released through the club, confirming that the takeover had been rejected by the Premier League.

At the end of July the Saudi PIF led bidders said they had pulled their offer to buy the club from Mike Ashley.

At that point the matter had been in the hands of the Premier League for some 17 weeks with them refusing to make a decision, an unacceptable length of time which the Saudi PIF said had been central to their pulling out. When the consortium pulled their offer to Ashley, the Premier League hadn’t actually rejected (or passed…) the deal, an official decision was never made.

The Athletic have now reported that whilst the Saudi PIF consortium announced at the end of July they were withdrawing their offer to buy Newcastle United from Mike Ashley, that wasn’t the same thing as the bid to buy / sell the club being withdrawn from the Premier League.

They reveal that it is actually Newcastle United, who as a member club (of the Premier League), are the ones who submit ownership bids on behalf of prospective owners and are also the ones who would them withdraw them. This didn’t happen and so, there was never an official ending of the process with the Premier League.

Recent weeks have seen claims in the media that further paperwork had been submitted to the Premier League in the hope of the NUFC takeover finally going through and this report from The Athletic backs this up.

They say that despite the Saudi PIF bid statement at the end of July, they and Mike Ashley reaffirmed their commitment to the deal and that the Saudi PIF bidders and Mike Ashley (via their representatives) had ‘been in regular dialogue over recent weeks and were increasingly confident that the sale would finally go through’, with a takeover passed by the Premier League.

However, that has not been the case, only now have the Premier League actually given a decision and rejected the takeover bid, hence leading to this Mike Ashley statement last night, which The Athletic say the Saudi PIF consortium had advance warning of it going out.

Maybe one of the most interesting points in The Athletic report is that their information is that whilst they have rejected the takeover now, the Premier League ‘have not clarified on specifically which grounds’, something which is surely a total joke if true.

That would also help to explain just how extremely provocative Ashley’s Wednesday night statement was, saying he (‘the club’) ‘do not accept that Premier League chief executive Richard Masters and the Premier League have acted appropriately in relation to this matter.’

Mike Ashley adding that he (‘the club’) ‘will be considering all relevant options available to them,’ whilst this hints at the possibility of legal action, at the very least the Premier League will now surely feel they have no option but to come out and publicly defend their position, explaining exactly why they have made a decision to block the takeover.

As fans, we are of course on the outside as always, anything that happens won’t be driven due to any concerns on our behalf, whether that is the seller, buyers, or indeed the Premier League.

Whether this is simply Mike Ashley grandstanding and a purely PR exercise, or if there is indeed action to be taken against the Premier League, remains to be seen.

For Newcastle supporters Mike Ashley has at least given some hope, no matter how small, that we possibly might still see the back of him in the not so distant future.

Official Club (Mike Ashley) statement on Newcastle United takeover situation:

‘Newcastle United can confirm that the Premier League has rejected a takeover bid made by PCP Capital Partners, the Reuben Brothers and the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia (PIF) based on its Owners and Directors test.

This conclusion has been reached despite the club providing the Premier League with overwhelming evidence and legal opinions that PIF is independent and autonomous of the Saudi Arabian government.

The club and its owners do not accept that Premier League chief executive Richard Masters and the Premier League have acted appropriately in relation to this matter and will be considering all relevant options available to them.

Mike Ashley understands fans’ frustrations and would like to reassure them that he has been fully committed to ensuring this takeover process reached completion as he felt it was in the best interests of the club.

Mike continues to be fully supportive to Steve Bruce, the players and all the staff and wishes them well for the upcoming season.’

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