Newcastle United owners PIF announce major club move as Karim Benzema agrees two-year deal

Newcastle United’s majority owners PIF have announced a transformative change involving four football clubs in Saudi Arabia.
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As part of Saudi Arabia’s sports clubs investment and privitization project, the Public Investment Fund has announced that four Saudi Pro League clubs have been transformed into companies owned by the sovereign wealth fund and non-profit foundations. Al Ittihad, Al Ahli, Al Nassr and Al Hilal have all been set up as newly founded companies 75% owned by PIF.

A PIF statement read: “As part of today’s announcement of the Sports Clubs Investment and Privatization Project, four Saudi clubs – Al Ittihad, Al Ahli, Al Nassr, and Al Hilal – have been transformed into companies, each of which is owned by #PIF and non-profit foundations for each club.

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“Existing members of each club will be included in the four foundations. #PIF is working closely with @gsaksa_en [Saudi Ministry of Sport] on all the necessary regulatory procedures to complete the clubs’ transfers to their new structures as newly founded companies alongside non-profit foundations.

#PIF’s ownership in the clubs’ companies represent 75% in each club, while their respective non-profit foundations hold 25% ownership of each club.

“The transfer of the four clubs will unleash various commercial opportunities, including investment, partnership and sponsorships across numerous sports.”

Newcastle United are 80% owned by PIF following the takeover in October 2021. Since then, The Magpies have visited Saudi Arabia twice, playing Al Ittihad in January 2022 and Al Hilal in December 2022.

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The Gazette understands that the club are exploring options to confirm another friendly with a Saudi Pro League club in July.

One of the clubs involved in the project, Al Nassr, completed a move for Portuguese superstar Cristiano Ronaldo back in January. Al Ittihad are also set to sign Karim Benzema after Real Madrid confirmed the striker’s departure.

The French forward has reportedly agreed terms to join on a two-year deal, according to Fabrizio Romano. Lionel Messi has also been linked with a world record move to Al Hilal after his departure from Paris Saint-Germain was confirmed.

While PIF’s latest project will not directly impact Newcastle, the links with some of Saudi Arabia’s top football clubs and, in-turn, some of world football’s most iconic players of recent times, could lead to some exciting opportunities moving forward.