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Premier League clubs demand emergency meeting over Newcastle takeover

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Premier League clubs have reached out to the league with complaints about Newcastle United’s takeover by a Saudi Arabia-led consortium and are pushing for an emergency meeting next week, the Guardian newspaper.

The Premier League announced on Thursday that Newcastle had been sold to a group consisting of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, PCP Capital Partners and RB Sports & Media.

The investment group had previously made public a 305 million pound ($415 million) bid to buy the club in April 2020. That deal collapsed three months later amid scrutiny from the league, which came under pressure to stop the sale due to concerns over alleged broadcast piracy in Saudi Arabia.

The piracy dispute involved Qatari-owned beIN Sports, the league’s broadcast rights holder across the Middle East, which had been barred from operating in Saudi Arabia. That ban was lifted on Wednesday, clearing a major hurdle to the takeover. The Guardian said the 19 Premier League clubs are understood to be united in opposition to a Saudi-led consortium being allowed to buy out former owner Mike Ashley.

The clubs have also raised concerns that the league’s brand “could be damaged” by Saudi Arabia’s PIF – chaired by Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman – taking an 80% stake in Newcastle, the report added. 

On Thursday, Amnesty International urged the Premier League to change its owners’ and directors’ test to address human rights issues. Human rights groups have condemned Saudi Arabia’s efforts to “sportswash” its human rights record but the kingdom’s government denies allegations of human rights abuses and says it is protecting national security from extremists and external actors.

Reuters

Photo he Bobby Robson statue before the English Premier league soccer match between Newcastle United and Leicester City held at St James’ Park stadium in Newcastle, Britain, 01 January 2020 (re-issued 07 October 2021). Newcastle United confirmed on 07 October 2021 that the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF), and also comprising PCP Capital Partners and RB Sports & Media, has completed the takeover of Newcastle United. EPA-EFE/LYNNE CAMERON

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