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Boris Johnson involvement in Newcastle United takeover saga after Saudi request – Report

1 year ago

An interesting scoop on the Newcastle United takeover saga, with it now revealed that Boris Johnson intervened at the request of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The Mail revealing that Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince urged Boris Johnson to intervene in the takeover of Newcastle United, by telling the Premier League to ‘correct’ its decision to block the deal.

The report saying Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman warned that a row over the sale of the Premier League club could damage relations between the two countries.

In response to the Saudi ‘request’…Boris Johnson asked one of his top aides to investigate.

These revelations coming out 10 months after the event, The Mail reporting that on 27 June 2020, the Saudi Crown Price sent a message to Boris Johnson saying: ‘We expect the English Premier League to reconsider and correct its wrong conclusion.’

In response to that message, Boris Johnson (pictured above with Jamie Reuben, his father and uncle part of the consortium looking to buy Newcastle, with Jamie reportedly set to be on the board if the bid is successful) asked one of his senior aides, Lord Eddie Lister, to investigate.

Lord Lister quoted on Wednesday night confirming his involvement: ‘The Saudis were getting upset. We were not lobbying for them to buy it or not to buy it. We wanted them [the Premier League] to be straightforward and say yes or no, don’t leave [the Saudis] dangling.’

However, they continued to be left ‘dangling’ and the following month (July 2020) finally the Saudi financed consortium said they were withdrawing their offer to buy Newcastle United.

In a separate move, following a freedom of information request, documents were made public earlier this week which revealed that on 21 June 2020, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport wrote to the Premier League regarding an ‘imminent’ takeover decision. A Whitehall meeting to discuss Saudi Arabia was scheduled for the following day. However, that announcement never arrived and six days later the Saudi Crown Prince was lobbying the Prime Minister to intervene.

The Mail report that the Saudi Crown Prince was ‘enraged’ after the Premier League went down the route of questioning whether the Saudi state (in effect, Crown Prince Bin Salman himself) would be the ultimate owners of Newcastle.

That reasoning being that the Premier League would then be able to block the Newcastle United takeover, due to the alleged Saudi involvement in broadcast piracy, as part of their conflict with Qatar. Unless it could be shown that the Saudi PIF was separate from the state.

For Newcastle fans reading this, the big question is, whilst it is all very interesting just how high in terms of politics and international relations the Newcastle United takeover reached last summer, are we any closer to a successful NUFC takeover conclusion now?

Unless you are a relentless optimist, the answer has to be that it is impossible to know either way.

The big positive is that both sides appear to have made clear through the media that they are still committed to the original deal.

With another positive of course being the fact that last weekend the results on the pitch mean that Newcastle are now six points clear of relegation trouble and with a game in hand. The reality being that no takeover would / could be possible if United did not remain a Premier League club, as no way Mike Ashley will drop his price, even if in a lower division.

With Mike Ashley and everybody else awaiting the outcome of the Ashley / Newcastle United arbitration hearing against the Premier League, the hope is that somehow this could help pave the way for a Newcastle United takeover to be eventually approved.

The Mail quote a source, referring to Ashley, now saying last (Wednesday) night: ‘In Mike’s eyes the club is sold. He feels Newcastle fans won the lottery but were denied a payout by the Premier League. He wants to know why that happened and is determined for the deal to be signed off.’

As always, it would be Mike Ashley winning the lottery in financial terms, but an ambitious properly run club is all that Newcastle United fans aspire to. In 14 years under Ashley, we have never even been entered into the draw to the lottery, never mind win it.

The idea of heading into a 15th Mike Ashley season AND with Steve Bruce still at St James Park, that is a tough sell for any Newcastle United fan.


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