Saudi-backed bid for Newcastle withdrawn as ‘no longer commercially viable’

London (AFP) – A takeover bid for Newcastle United by a consortium backed by the Saudi sovereign wealth fund has been withdrawn after weeks of waiting for the Premier League’s approval, the group said on Thursday.

The investment group of the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF), Amanda Staveley’s PCP Capital Partners and billionaire brothers, David and Simon Reuben, cited the long period since a deal was struck with Newcastle owner Mike Ashley in April and the impact of coronavirus for pulling out.

“With a deep appreciation for the Newcastle community and the significance of its football club, we have come to the decision to withdraw our interest in acquiring Newcastle United Football Club,” the investment group said in a statement reported by Sky Sports.

“Unfortunately, the prolonged process under the current circumstances coupled with global uncertainty has rendered the potential investment no longer commercially viable.”

The statement added: “Ultimately, during the unforeseeably prolonged process, the commercial agreement between the Investment Group and the club’s owners expired and our investment thesis could not be sustained, particularly with no clarity as to the circumstances under which the next season will start and the new norms that will arise for matches, training and other activities.”

The takeover bid had attracted condemnation from Amnesty International and the wife of murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi over Saudi’s human rights record, putting pressure on the Premier League not to give it the green light in its owners’ and directors’ test.

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