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Opinion

Saudi Arabia PIF not willing to pay £50m for Ryan Fraser – Would have helped

8 months ago
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On 7 October 2021, the Saudi Arabia PIF (Public Investment Fund) took a 80% stake in Newcastle United, with the Reuben family and Amanda Staveley the minority shareholders holding 10% each.

Yasir Al-Rumayyan is the Governor of the Saudi Arabia PIF and also became Chairman of Newcastle United, as is the case with a number of the PIF’s investments globally.

Then as part of their Saudi Vision 2030 (A strategic framework to reduce Saudi Arabia’s dependence on oil, diversify its economy, and develop public service sectors such as health, education, infrastructure, recreation, and tourism), the Saudi Arabia PIF (which is the key driver of the Saudi Vision 2030 project) have accelerated their investment in golf, their LIV Golf initiative now taking the lead role in a new structure overseeing the major tours around the world.

June 2023 then brought another major sporting initiative from the Saudi Arabia PIF / Saudi Vision 2030, as massive investment was announced in the domestic Saudi football league.

They announced that the stated aim is to transform the competition into one of the worldwide top ten football leagues, whilst also tripling its market value.

In order to try and achieve that, the Saudi Arabia PIF would be taking 75 per cent controlling interests in the four biggest clubs in the Saudi Pro League—Al Nassr, Al Hilal, Al Ittihad, and Al Ahli, ahead of the 2023/24 season. A non-profit organisation to control the remaining 25 per cent in each of the four teams.

As part of this massive development, the immediate move to massively lift the Saudi Pro League and especially these four selected clubs, would be that each of the four Saudi Arabia PIF owned clubs would target “A minimum of three internationally renowned players.”

Whilst a smaller number of these top international name players would be “distributed among the other teams in the league.”

As well as Benzema signing, no surprise to see the Premier League targeted, after all, the biggest most powerful league in the world has more ‘internationally renowned players’ than anywhere else.

Amongst those already signed up are Kante, Koulibaly, Neves and Firmino, with the likes of Fabinho and Henderson now expected to follow.

Whilst some of these are free agents getting signed up, others are getting bought for what looks premium prices for those in the ‘later’ stages of their careers.

Chelsea one of the big beneficiaries so far of these high incoming Saudi Arabia PIF transfer fees but Liverpool looking set to join them, with other clubs amongst the usual suspects also potentially set to cash in.

I have seen some Newcastle United fans seeing this as out of order.

Whilst I agree that it is painful to see the likes of Chelsea getting some big help via major transfer fees and savings on wages for some players who may have potentially ended up sitting on fat wages and not even playing, I don’t think there is anything untoward about it.

Simply the case that with the Saudi Arabia PIF / clubs after these ageing ‘internationally renowned’ players, it just so happens that the likes of Chelsea and Liverpool, along with the other usual suspects, were the clubs almost certain to have those who fit the bill.

Whilst it would have undoubtedly helped – Saudi Arabia PIF / Saudi clubs are not willing to pay £50m for Ryan Fraser, nor indeed Isaac Hayden or Jeff Hendrick.

If only NUFC still had Michael Owen under contract…

In terms of unfairness, I can’t go along with this line whereby some Newcastle fans are seeing it as unfair that Saudi Arabia PIF money is going to rival Premier League clubs and not us.

The Saudi Arabia PIF and the Saudi Vision 2030 is far bigger and diverse than their involvement at Newcastle United.

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