Doubts cast over possible PIF Newcastle United takeover with concerns over ownership conflict

The legitimacy of Newcastle United takeover claims has been cast in doubt with Sheffield United’s ownership a reported cause for concern.

Monday, 13th April 2020, 12:30 pm
Updated Monday, 13th April 2020, 1:28 pm
Saudi Arabia's Yasir Al-Rumayyan, the Managing Director of the Public Investment Fund gives a joint press conference on the Sovereign Health Funds program to fight climate change at the Elysee Palace, in Paris, on July 6, 2018. - Six sovereign wealth funds from Norway, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait and New Zealand released a joint framework on July 6, 2018 to encourage investors to take climate-related risks into consideration when investing. (Photo by Kamil Zihnioglu / POOL / AFP) (Photo credit should read KAMIL ZIHNIOGLU/AFP via Getty Images)

The Blades are owned by Prince Abdullah bin Musa’ad, a member of the ruling elite in the kingdom – and Independent chief football writer Miguel Delaney believes this could become a major issue should the deal progress.

“(Sheffield United ownership) actually represents another reason why the Newcastle deal may not go through - due to ownership regulations on two clubs. However, the Sheff Utd ownership is not as direct as PIF would be,” Delaney said on Twitter.

“With Newcastle it's much more direct. PIF would own 80% of the club. They are essentially the MBS's (Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman) personal fund, if he so chooses.”

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Paperwork has been filed by both potential buyer and seller to the Premier League, which puts this takeover bid one step beyond that of last summer’s protracted, and failed, attempt by the Bin Zayed Group of Dubai.

And speaking to well-placed sources, the Gazette understands Sheffield United’s ownership would NOT conflict with the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia taking majority control of Newcastle United due to Prince Abdullah’s investment being a private one. Therefore, the issue is unlikely to be problematic when it comes to the league’s owners and directors test.

Delaney though, does not think swapping controversial Sports Direct tycoon Mike Ashley for Yasir Al-Rumayyan (pictured above), Mohammed bin Salman and PIF would be a good trade – in fact, he thinks it would be a nightmare for ‘great club’ Newcastle.

“If that takeover goes through, you should stage a funeral,” he continued in response to fan questions on social media.

“Ashley is terrible. The Saudis are way worse. Your great club disgracefully used as an instrument of foreign policy, and they're not as professional in these things as Abu Dhabi (who own Manchester City).”

Newcastle has been up for sale officially since 2017 with Ashley looking to recoup around £340million for the club he bought for around £140million in 2007.