London (AFP) – The Premier League have slammed Newcastle’s claim that the organisation rejected a Saudi Arabia-backed bid to buy the troubled club.
Newcastle released a statement on Wednesday that said Premier League chief executive Richard Masters had blocked the takeover and did not “act appropriately”.
But the Premier League delivered a strongly worded response on Thursday that made it clear they had not pulled the plug on the deal.
“The Premier League was disappointed and surprised by the Newcastle United Football Club statement regarding its potential takeover by PCP Capital Partners, the Reuben Brothers and the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia (PIF),” a statement read.
“The club’s assertion that the Premier League has rejected the takeover is incorrect.
“The Premier League Board has, on a number of occasions, given its opinion about which entities it believes would have control over the club should the consortium proceed with the acquisition. That opinion is based on legal advice.
“This means the potential takeover could proceed to the next stage should the relevant entities provide all appropriate information. They would then be subject to a suitability assessment by the Board. As an alternative, the Board has repeatedly offered independent arbitration as a way forward since June.
“It is also incorrect to suggest these decisions were taken by any individual; they were agreed unanimously by all Premier League Board members.”
The investment group, which included the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF), PCP Capital Partners and billionaire brothers David and Simon Reuben, said they withdrew their bid in July after waiting months for the English top-flight’s approval.
A £300 million ($391 million) deal to buy the side from owner Mike Ashley had been agreed in April.
However, the bid had attracted scrutiny due to the piracy of sports broadcast rights, including Premier League matches, in Saudi and the state’s human rights record.
Amanda Staveley of PCP Capital Partners said when the bid was withdrawn that the Premier League wanted the Saudi state to become a director of the club as the PIF was not deemed to be an arm of the government.
Supporters have long campaigned for Ashley to sell the club as they have been disillusioned with his 13-year spell as owner, which has included two relegations from the Premier League.
Newcastle begin the new Premier League season away to West Ham on Saturday.
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