Soccer

Newcastle icons back petition to investigate Premier League over failed takeover

A host of former Newcastle United stars including Rob Lee have backed a petition slamming the Premier League.

A remarkable 56,000 Geordie fans – and rising – have accused the league of delaying the Saudi-funded takeover causing it to collapse last week.

Lee, Faustino Aspirilla and Robbie Elliott are among the ex legends who have backed the petition which called for Prime Minister Boris Johnson to probe the league's takeover processes.

Fans have also ensured the hashtag #premierleaguearecorrupt has trended on Twitter, heaping pressure on chief exec Richard Masters to break his silence.

The Saudi Public Investment Fund withdrew their offer to buy Newcastle for £305m on Thursday.

They blamed the “unforseeable prolonged process” which meant the bid was “no longer commercially viable” amid the COVID19 crisis.

Amanda Staveley, who led the 80percent Saudi funded bid, stoked up opposition to the Premier League last week by suggesting that resurrecting the deal depended on fans letting chief exec Masters know what they think.

The Premier League have consistently refused to comment on the process.

Given it was the Saudis pulling their money that collapsed the deal, rather than the league officially turning it down, the league is unlikely to break their silence, but are under the cosh.

Staveley has further drummed up backing from fans by holding talks with the club's fan-run 10,000 member supporters Trust.

However it is unclear how she intends to rekindle the deal – or launch her third bid to buy the club with cash from another source.

Asprilla tweeted: “Please fans sign the petition.”

Lee said: “Sign! I for one would love to know why the takeover did not go through.”

The petition calls the controversial Saudi Crown Prince a “reformer” on human rights.

It claims that the outside “groups” had used “the partner of reporter Jamal Khashoggi who has no connection to English football in their efforts.”

Khashoggi was murdered and dismembered at the Saudi consul in Turkey, and the Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab last month added high ranking officials from the Crown Prince's office to a banned list, citing the killing.

The petition reads: “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 Premier League spent four months investigating the takeover.

There were concerns over piracy of Premier League games Saudi Arabia, their human rights record, and the structure of the deal, with the bidders claiming the state investment fund was separate from the state.

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