Saudi fund in talks to buy Newcastle United
LONDON - Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund is in talks to buy English football club Newcastle United for about $447 million, a source familiar with the situation told Reuters, confirming a report in the Wall Street Journal.
British billionaire Mike Ashley, who made his fortune from sportswear retailer Sports Direct, which was renamed Frasers Group in December, has owned Newcastle United since 2007.
Saudi’s Public Investment Fund and a group led by British financier Amanda Staveley are in discussions to buy the Premier League club but talks were at a delicate stage and could fall apart, a source familiar with the situation told Reuters.
Newcastle United has been up for sale for several years. Three years ago, Staveley’s firm PCP Capital Partners made an offer for it for a reported $327 million but talks broke down.
In 2019, Newcastle United was rumoured to be on the brink of being bought by Abu Dhabi billionaire Sheikh Khaled bin Zayed al-Nahyan but that deal did not go ahead either.
Ashley, who owns a controlling stake in the club, has not always been popular among fans and thousands have boycotted matches this season in protest of his ownership.
Approximately one-third of English football clubs are under foreign ownership. Premier League clubs Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United are in American hands while Manchester City is owned by the Abu Dhabi United Group.