Exclusive: Saudis will spend 'BIG' making Newcastle United 'major players' if they complete takeover

Should Saudis buy Newcastle United they will make the Magpies major players in the Premier League – that’s the view of boxing supremo Eddie Hearn.

Thursday, 13th February 2020, 6:00 am
Updated Thursday, 13th February 2020, 2:22 pm

Hearn, in Newcastle this week to promote Geordie Lewis Ritson’s April fight at the Utilita Arena, has first-hand experience of dealing with Saudi Arabia’s ruling royal family and their various sectors of sports governance having taken the Matchroom Boxing and Anthony Joshua roadshow to Diriyah, on the outskirts of Riyadh, in December for a world heavyweight title fight against Andy Ruiz Jnr.

And Hearn thinks if the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia deal gets done with Mike Ashley, Magpies fans will be in for an exciting ride.

“They love their combat sports but football? Another thing altogether. But they are major players in everything that they do,” said Hearn, who refuted claims in the national press that his father Barry Hearn was part of takeover talks.

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DIRIYAH, SAUDI ARABIA - DECEMBER 07: Anthony Joshua poses for a photo with the IBF, WBA, WBO & IBO World Heavyweight Title belts with Eddie Hearn and Barry Hearn after the IBF, WBA, WBO & IBO World Heavyweight Title Fight between Andy Ruiz Jr and Anthony Joshua during the Matchroom Boxing 'Clash on the Dunes' show at the Diriyah Season on December 07, 2019 in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

“They are not around to mess around.

“And if they get involved in a football club, they are going to be spending money. They are not short of money, put it that way.

“It is one for a supporter – how do you feel about being taken over by a Saudi Arabian consortium? Well, we know that once we get over that, we are going to be major players.

“If they come in, they will make sure Newcastle are major players.”

DIRIYAH, SAUDI ARABIA - DECEMBER 04: Andy Ruiz Jr, HH Prince Khalid Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Eddie Hearn and Anthony Joshua during the Clash On The Dunes Press Conference at the Diriyah Season Hospitality Lounge on December 04, 2019 in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

Hearn and Joshua were accused of taking part in what Amnesty International call ‘sportswashing’ by staging their last fight in the kingdom, and the same has already been levelled at any potential influx of sovereign wealth fund cash to the Premier League.

Joshua’s promoter has absolutely no qualms about taking Joshua or any other fighter in his stable back to Saudi – and he thinks Newcastle fans will feel the same should PIF buy out Mike Ashley.

“There are always concerns when you do international business but we got a lot of criticism. There was the human rights, etc, etc. All I can say was that our experience from start to finish was absolutely first class. Everything they promised us, they delivered,” said Hearn.

“They do have a lot of money and that makes a big difference.

OSAKA, JAPAN - JUNE 28: U.S. President Donald Trump speaks with Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman during a family photo session at G20 summit on June 28, 2019 in Osaka, Japan. U.S. President Donald Trump arrived in Osaka on Thursday for the annual Group of 20 gathering together with other world leaders who will use the two-day summit to discuss pressing economic, climate change, as well as geopolitical issues. The US-China trade war is expected to dominate the meetings in Osaka as President Trump and China's President Xi Jinping are scheduled to meet on Saturday in an attempt to resolve the ongoing the trade clashes between the world's two largest economies. (Photo by Kim Kyung-Hoon - Pool/Getty Images)

“I can't speak highly enough of our experience with the Saudis.”

Hearn continued: “We will take Joshua back there. We have partnerships with the people out there.

“They want the biggest of everything, the best of everything. They don't want small fights, they want the biggest fights out there.

“This is why when it comes to a football club, they won't settle for anything but buying something and making it the biggest club.

“They [Newcastle] could do worse.”

Of talk Matchroom and the Hearns acted as fixers to facilitate takeover talk in December, he said: "It is absolute rubbish.

“I asked him [Barry] where it had come from and he said 'no idea'.

“We love Newcastle United, but we ain't buying it. We are not in the running.”