Newcastle take issue with Premier League over ‘rejected’ Saudi bid

LONDON: Newcastle United took issue with the Premier League on Wednesday by accusing the body of acting inappropriately in rejecting a Saudi Arabian-backed takeover bid based on an owners and directors’ test.

The club, whose version appeared to contradict the league’s, issued a statement saying they would be “considering all relevant options available”.

The proposed £300 million takeover of the club owned by British businessman Mike Ashley collapsed in July.

The decision came after long scrutiny by the Premier League which faced pressure to block the deal due to concerns over alleged broadcast piracy in the Gulf state.

The consortium included Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund PIF, PCP Capital Partners and the Reuben Brothers.

The Premier League’s Chief Executive Richard Masters said in August that the bid had failed after the group declined an offer of independent arbitration and voluntarily withdrew.

He also said there was never a point when the Premier League was asked to assess the suitability of members of the consortium as the group had ended its bid before the issue was resolved.

Newcastle said the Premier League had rejected the bid, however.

“This conclusion has been reached despite the club providing the Premier League with overwhelming evidence and legal opinions that PIF is independent and autonomous of the Saudi Arabian government,” it added.

“The club and its owners do not accept that … Masters and the Premier League have acted appropriately concerning this matter and will be considering all relevant options available to them.”

Newcastle said Ashley had been “fully committed” to the takeover and felt it was in the best interests of the club.

The Premier League season starts on Saturday.