Newcastle Takeover Delayed Due to Concerns Over Link Between PIF & Saudi State

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Newcastle's takeover continues to drag on | OWEN HUMPHREYS/Getty Images

Newcastle United's proposed Saudi-backed takeover has been delayed because Premier League officials want to further investigate the link between the Saudi Arabian state and the Public Investment Fund.

The PIF, which is governed by Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman, is looking to take an 80% stake in Newcastle, with 10% owned by businesswoman Amanda Staveley and another 10% by the Reuben family.

Francois Hollande, Mohammed Bin Salman Al Saud
Bin Salman's PIF agreed a deal to buy Newcastle in April | Chesnot/Getty Images

A deal to sell the club was agreed back in April, but the Premier League's Owner's and Director's test has been rumbling on ever since, creating a lot of uncertainty over whether the deal will go through. Now that the transfer window is open, everyone is keen to avoid waiting much longer.

The Telegraph state that the Premier League are concerned about who would be involved in the decision-making process at St. James' Park if the takeover went through, with worries over whether the team will actually be controlled by the Saudi state through the PIF.

The primary problem for the Premier League is that they have been embroiled in a long-running legal battle with the Saudi state over alleged piracy of English football matches in the country, amid accusations that the Saudi government are actually behind the illegal broadcasts.

Mike Ashley, Lee Charnley
Mike Ashley hopes to sell the club soon | Marc Atkins/Getty Images

Saudi Arabia recently banned the beIN network, meaning it is now impossible to legally watch Premier League games in the country, which has only exacerbated the issue.

The consortium have argued that it will be Staveley in charge of the day-to-day operations at the club in an attempt to distance the Saudi state from the club, but the Premier League are concerned there could still be some involvement from government officials.

There is now said to be less confidence that a deal will be approved, opening the door for American businessman Henry Mauriss to make his own bid to buy Newcastle.

Current owner Mike Ashley's exclusivity deal with the Saudi-backed consortium has now expired, meaning he is free to talk to other prospective buyers, and he has been in contact with Mauriss over a £350m deal - £50m more than the previous offer.

Ashley is now free to sell to another interested party, and given the complexity of the current deal with the consortium, that may well be his preferred option.

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