Soccer

Newcastle fans launch petition to have Premier League investigated over collapsed Saudi Arabian takeover

More than 56,000 Newcastle United supporters have signed a petition calling on the government to launch an investigation into the Premier League’s takeover process, following the collapsed sale of the club.

Four months after agreeing to submit contracts to the Premier League for the Owners and Directors Test, Newcastle’s proposed £300m takeover collapsed last Thursday when the purchasing consortium withdrew their offer, citing the lengthy delay in receiving approval from the Premier League outlined as one of the reasons for the abandonment.

Fronted by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, PCP Capital Partners and RB Sports & Media, the takeover was expected to bring an end to Mike Ashley’s 13-year reign in control of the club, which has seen supporters vent their frustration with the lack of investment and development under his ownership.

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A statement issued on Thursday confirmed that the offer had been withdrawn due to the “unforeseeably prolonger process” to gain Premier League ratification, which was due to the concerns expressed against Saudi Arabia’s human rights record and the strategic attempt to use Premier League club ownership as a ‘sportswashing’ attempt to clean up their global image.

The development leaves Newcastle facing the 2020/21 campaign still under current owner Mike Ashley, who has reinforced his “100 per cent commitment” to selling the club, despite now needing to fund any transfer business this summer.

But the fallout from the takeover collapse has seen Newcastle fans turn their anger towards the Premier League, with many calling for an explanation as to why the takeover bid remained in limbo four months after being submitted.

A petition started by a user named Sean H launched the petition to call on Boris Johnson’s government to launch an independent investigation into the Premier League, as well as it’s chief executive Richard Masters.

“After recent events leading to the unsuccessful takeover attempt of Newcastle United, this petition aims to engage the United Kingdom (UK) government in establishing an independent investigation into the English Premier League (EPL) takeover process and Richard Masters who was fundamental in orchestrating the deal,” the Change.org page reads.

“The takeover negotiations came to a halt on 30th July 2020 after the Saudi backed consortium withdrew their interest with one of the key reasons being the ‘Prolonged Process’. This announcement was released after 4 months without a decision.”

The petition calls on the government to look at why many of the confidential aspects of the takeover process were allowed to be leaked out in recent months, as well as looking at the influence of people who have an interest in seeing the talks resolve unsuccessfully due to pre-existing issues with Saudi Arabia.

“Despite the takeover being a confidential process, much of it was played out in the public domain and by the end of the Newcastle United takeover saga, it was apparent that the dispute was only with the Saudi backing due to their apparent human rights and piracy abuses,” the petition adds.

“However, many of the concerns were initially raised by outside influences who would directly benefit from this particular takeover attempt failing or who already have personal issues with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA). Those groups proceeded to mount a personal attack on Saudi backing by raising piracy and human rights concerns before using the partner of reporter Jamal Khashoggi who has no connection to English football in their efforts.

“Mohammed Bin Salman, who is the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, is an ally of the UK government and Royal Family (and) has been integral in supporting the UK with the outbreak of Covid-19 along with reforming the KSA policies on human rights.

“As a result of the EPL’s negligence and Qatar influences around the Newcastle takeover, the city of Newcastle has been deprived of some well-needed investment into the local football club as well as the city as a whole.”

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