The Premier League 'cartel' will block Newcastle United takeover as they eye top flight 'monopoly'

Newcastle United’s proposed takeover by PIF, PCP and Reuben Brothers remains in the balance – but under new Premier League proposals that deal would already be dead in the water.

Tuesday, 13th October 2020, 12:15 pm
Updated Tuesday, 13th October 2020, 1:13 pm

The Saudi-financed, Amanda Staveley-fronted deal, supported largely in a political sense by the Reubens, is in the hands of legal teams, with Mike Ashley’s trusted confidant Justin Barnes tasked with pushing it through the levels of Premier League red tape.

As things stand it is not dead, but time is not on Barnes and Ashley’s side with hopes of an end of year breakthrough retained by the money men so key to the deal.

But should the push towards Project Big Picture – a Premier League power grab, veiled as an EFL bailout – gather pace, then any hopes of seeing Saudi finance sweep through Tyneside appear to be fading fast.

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Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (L) and Saudi Deputy Defence Minister Khalid Bin Salman await ahead of their meeting with the US Secretary of State at Irqah Palace in Riyadh on February 20, 2020. (Photo by ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS / POOL / AFP) (Photo by ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

And, according to former Premier League striker Chris Sutton, the ‘cartel’ will not allow anyone else to challenge their ‘monopoly’ on power at the top of the game.

Speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live, ex-Chelsea, Celtic and Blackburn man Sutton said: “The further down the line we will get through the pandemic and it will be a monopoly if this is allowed to happen. The game will be a cartel.

“We always talk about the Premier League being the best league in the world – the most competitive league in the world, that will be gone, that will be no more.

“It will be just about the top six getting stronger, getting better, getting bigger and everybody else will just fade away into insignificance.”

PCP Capital Partners’ Mehrdad Ghodoussi pointed towards the title win of Leicester City as a justification for seeing the powerbase in the Premier League remain the same. On Monday he tweeted: “Monopolies destroy competition....what makes the premier league the best league in the world is seasons like 2015/16 #PremierLeague #20teams.”

Sutton is in agreement.

“We won’t see a Leicester City winning titles any more, other clubs won’t be able to challenge,” he said.

“It will come down to voting and I have read up about the voting system – they are not going to allow anybody else in. They are just going to let themselves get more powerful and stronger. Nobody from the outside is going to be allowed in.

“A wealthy takeover at Newcastle United for example. Possibility of somebody coming in who could actually challenge financially this top six. They won’t let that happen. Why would they?

“They may say that that’s business. We understand that they are trying to drive their businesses on. But is it for the greater good of football?

“That is why this cannot be the only option, so they have to come up with another.”

The Premier League’s ‘Project Big Picture’ proposal was leaked to the press on Sunday and has since been criticised by government figures, the Premier League and fans of clubs across the country. It does, however, have the backing of English Football League (EFL) chairman Rick Parry, formerly Liverpool chief executive and a key player in the formation of the Premier League in the early 1990s.

The plans, which could see the EFL handed a £250million rescue package, have come under considerable criticism due to their nature, with many believing they call into question the integrity of the English game.

They include the top flight ‘big six’ – Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City – plus Everton, West Ham and Southampton being granted ‘special voting rights’ as ‘long-term shareholders’, allowing them to veto changes of ownership to other clubs.

Promotion and relegation would also be altered, with the Premier League reduced to 18 teams, parachute payments binned along with the Community Shield and League Cup.

The upside to this would be the bail out package presented to EFL clubs, which would also propose to hand them 25% of future revenues from the top flight.

Although, financial analysis of these figures suggests there is little increase on the cash that would have already been paid out to clubs further down the pyramid, via the likes of parachute payments.

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