Exclusive: Saudi interest in £340m Newcastle takeover cools as PIF weigh up Manchester United deal

The chances of Saudi Arabian investment in Newcastle United via the Public Investment Fund have lessened in the last fortnight.

Sources close to talks have revealed Saudi sovereign wealth fund interest in buying the club from Mike Ashley has cooled after details of negotiations were leaked late last month.

And the Gazette has learned the Saudis could yet turn their attentions to Manchester United, ‘a Premier League jewel in the crown, rather than relegation contenders’, with the Red Devils thought to be valued at around £3billion.

Talk of a £345million takeover deal broke in the Wall Street Journal on the morning of Newcastle United’s FA Cup clash with Oxford United on January 25.

OXFORD, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 04: Mike Ashley owner of Newcastle United talks to managing Directory Lee Charnley ahead of the FA Cup Fourth Round Replay match between Oxford United and Newcastle United at Kassam Stadium on February 04, 2020 in Oxford, England. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

Their report back then claimed: “The buyer is the Public Investment Fund, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s key investment tool, together with a group of investors organised by British financier Amanda Staveley, the people said. A final deal could be days or weeks away, the people said. The tentative deal could still break down.”

It continued: “The acquisition would be a major coup for Saudi Arabia as it focuses on sports and entertainment as part of Prince Mohammed’s economic reform plans for the kingdom.

“It could also mean a big infusion of capital into Newcastle akin to Abu Dhabi’s 2008 acquisition of Manchester City. Since then the city-state has spent over a billion pounds to amass playing talent, renovate the team’s facilities, and turn City into an era-defining team in the English Premier League.”

A month down the line, though, those leaks are thought to have angered the main players in the halls of power in the kingdom.

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Amanda Staveley’s involvement in the process is thought to have caused issues for both proposed buyer and seller in this process.

When contacted by the Gazette, PIF did not comment on the matter.

Newcastle United have maintained their stance of “no comment” throughout this process. The Premier League, too, are reluctant to give a “running commentary” of events in any potential takeover.

It’s understood a number of buyers are weighing up the possibility of buying United, but no bids are thought to be imminent.