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Premier League rules put to stringent test in £300m Saudi takeover of Newcastle Utd

A takeover bid led by former model Amanda Staveley and a Saudi consortium for the ownership of Newcastle United is set to put the Premier League’s rules to test, according to a report in the Financial Times.

According to the report, a bid of £300m is said to have been accepted by UK billionaire Mike Ashley and the Premier League are now conducting their stringent owners and director’s test, which is a detailed assessment of the finances and business plan of the potential buyers.

The deal will be the first test of the Premier League’s tightened takeover rules with the owners facing stringent scrutiny for the £300m transaction.

The deal is set to be financed by Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman through his Public Investment Fund (PIF) which would own 80 per cent of the club by providing 80 per cent of the funds for the takeover, while 10 per cent of the ownership would belong to Staveley’s PCP Capital, and 10 per cent to property developers the Reuben brothers.

It could take weeks for the deal to be ratified though, as rules require physical interviews with prospective club directors, something that is not currently possible due to the coronavirus crisis.

However, the expectation is that the deal will be done despite pressure from activists given the poor human rights record in Saudi Arabia and ongoing uncertainty and question marks until the process is at an advanced stage.

“The main issue is going to be that the Premier League is very sensitive in respect of who it allows to buy clubs,” said Kieran Maguire, a lecturer in football finance at Liverpool University. But he added: “Saudi is a fairly big export market for the UK and historically we’ve had good relations.”