Newcastle takeover: Supporters' Trust wants Premier League 'transparency' on deal collapse

By Alistair MagowanBBC Sport
Newcastle finished 13th in 2019-20

A Newcastle United supporters' group says the Premier League needs to provide answers about the collapse of a proposed £300m takeover of the club.

A consortium, backed by Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund (PIF), ended its interest in buying Newcastle last week.

There had been a four-month wait as the bid was scrutinised under the Premier League's owners' and directors' test.

BBC Sport learned that the league wanted more answers on who would have ultimate responsibility for the club.

But Newcastle United Supporters' Trust (NUST) said fans and people in the north east of England "have been ignored" by the Premier League after the region "missed out on potentially hundreds of millions of pounds of investment".

The Trust has 14,000 members, of whom 97% were in favour of the takeover. It says it wants "transparency" and "answers" about "the collapse of the purchase of Newcastle United [which] has potentially robbed the north east of a huge opportunity".

The Premier League has declined to comment.

Problems with the takeover process have stemmed from claims about Saudi Arabia's human rights record and accusations of TV piracy.

The country has denied it is behind the illegal broadcasting of Premier League matches.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is the ruling leader of the country and chairman of its PIF, has taken responsibility for the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, calling it a "mistake", but denies he ordered his death.

The PIF was set to provide an 80% stake in the takeover bid and determining where Bin Salman's power began and ended proved an issue for the Premier League.

But British financier Amanda Staveley, who headed the consortium and was set to provide a 10% stake in the deal on behalf of PCP Capital Partners, said answers were provided to the Premier League.

NUST said its members had sent more than 1,000 letters to MPs calling for their help to demand transparency from the Premier League and an online petition with more than 78,000 signatures calls for an independent investigation into the Premier League's handling of the affair.

An NUST statement said: "The Premier League may have sound reasons for drawing out the takeover process for more than four months and the Premier League may have done everything they needed to do to protect their business and Newcastle United.

"However, there must be transparency after the process has completed. Answers must be provided about decisions which affect millions of people in our region.

"So far, the silence from the Premier League suggests they believe the people of the north east don't matter and that we don't deserve answers."

Newcastle owner Mike Ashley has said he is still "100% committed" to the Saudi deal.

The Reuben Brothers, who were also set to have a 10% stake in the purchase of the club, said on Monday they "remain totally supportive of the deal should there be a way forward".

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