Lhe Persian Gulf countries continue to gain prominence in European football. After Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates) took control of Manchester City in 2008 and Qatar took over PSG in 2011, Saudi Arabia has just entered the Premier League. “We are very proud to become the new owners of Newcastle United, one of the most famous clubs in English football.”, said Yasir Al-Rumayyan, governor of the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF) that will control the ‘Magpies’ after paying 320 million euros to Mike Ashley. A new ‘rich’ has come to ‘football’ with the goal of revolutionizing the Premier. Will it succeed?
Who are the new owners of Newcastle?
The Public Investment Fund (PIF) of Saudi Arabia, one of the largest on the planet with assets worth more than 400,000 million euros, will control 80% of Newcastle. The 10% will go to PCP Capital Partners, a consortium of investors led by Amanday Staveley, a businesswoman with ties to the Middle East who participated in other operations such as Mansour’s purchase of the City. And the remaining 10% will go to RB Sports & Media of the Reuben brothers, entrepreneurs with one of the largest fortunes in the United Kingdom. Those are the three legs of the consortium that already rules in the ‘Magpies’.
Yasir Al-Rumayyan, governor of the PIF, is the new president. According to ‘Sky Sports’, he is one of the most powerful men in Saudi Arabia. Graduated from Harvard Business School, he is an important part of business circles in a country where most companies are led by members of the Royal Family. Her relationship with Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman is very close and in September 2015 he appointed him governor of the Public Investment Fund.
Are they the richest team in the world?
Yes, because of the heritage that its owners treasure. Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salma, the Saudi Arabian monarch who controls all the country’s companies, including the PIF, has a fortune of 380,000 million euros. And the Public Investment Fund has more than 400,000 ‘kilos’ in assets. Dizzying figures that multiply by 14! the power of the Emirati leaders of Manchester City (27,000 million). In addition, at PCP Capital Partners and at RB Sports & Media there are entrepreneurs with great purchasing power.
Why did the purchase take so long to complete?
The Newcastle sale process has taken 18 months. In April 2020, the first offer was made that did not crystallize for various reasons. Al-Obaidly (executive director of the Qatari beIN) accused the government of Saudi Arabia of “facilitating on a global scale the theft of almost three years of commercial rights of the Premier” through its endorsement of the pirate service beoutQ. A battle in the middle of the geopolitical dispute between the two countries in the Middle East. In addition, Amnesty International charged against the possible purchase for the systematic violations of human rights in the country: “The Premier is at risk of becoming a place of ‘cover-up’ for those who want to use the glamor and prestige of football to cover up immoral actions that break international law.” A protests that continue after the completion of the operation: “The situation is terrible. This purchase is one more attempt to wash away human rights violations through football.”
Uncertainty took hold of a process that lasted for more than a year with voices for and against, eventually withdrawing the offer. “There must be clarity on why there was a significant delay in making a decision and on the reasons why the consortium decided to withdraw its offer,” said Prime Minister Boris Johnson. It was not until 18 months later that the Premier, after passing the PIF, PCP Capital Partners and RB Sports & Media the owners and directors test, authorized the purchase. “The legal disputes concerned which entities would own and control the club after the acquisition. The Premier has received legally binding guarantees that Saudi Arabia will not control Newcastle,” the English League said. In addition, according to the ‘Guardian’, the 19 clubs of the tournament, “angry”, have joined in their opposition to this operation and have asked for an urgent meeting due to the “threat to the brand and the image of the Premier”. Curves are coming.
How is the club?
Since the arrival of businessman Mikel Ashley, owner of the British sportswear chain Sports Direct, In 2007, Newcastle played twice in the Europa League (2007-08 and 2012-13) and dropped to Second Division twice (2008-09 and 2015-16). He has not won a trophy since the 1969 Fairs Cup. Four-time League champion (1905, 1907, 1909 and 1927), six times of the FA Cup (1910, 1924, 1932, 1951, 1952 and 1955) and one of the Community Shield (1909), its fans aspire to put aside the economic and sports hardships they have suffered in recent years and regain the power of the 90s and early 2000s in which, with Alan Shearer as a star, they were habitual of the high part of the table and of the Champions.
Since his return to the Premier in 2017, tenth place in 2018 is his best position. Right now they are penultimate, they have not won a game in seven days and have only achieved three draws. The 29.4 million euros invested in Willock (Arsenal) are his only signing this season. Only Everton (two ‘kilos) and Watford (18.8) have invested less in footballers this year. Ashley has slowed down spending to balance the accounts in recent seasons. Since his arrival in 2007, they have left 621 ‘kilos’ in signings (eleventh more than the Premier) and entered 437 in transfers.
Why was the purchase so celebrated?
“We can dare to hope again.” Alan Shearer was “happy” about Ashley’s departure and the Consortium’s arrival at Newcastle. The thousands of fans who celebrated the purchase of the club on the outskirts of St James’ Park are the same ones who have been calling for the British businessman to leave for years. Instability has reigned in one of the most popular clubs in the Premier. Changing the name to St James’ Park for Sports Direct Arena (his company), his out of tune, the firings of coaches such as Kevin Keegan, Alan Pardew and Rafa Benítez (Newcastle has had 11 coaches in 14 years under his tenure ), the treatment of icons such as Shearer or Jonás Gutiérrez, the declines, the low investment and his continuous desire to sell since 2008 caused the protests against him to multiply. Now they have celebrated their goodbye and their new ‘status’.
What is the planned plan? Will it be a new City or PSG?
The new owners are going to take it easy. “Newcastle deserve to be at the top of the Premier League. We want to get there. It will take time, but we will get there. We want to invest at all levels. Getting trophies means patience, investment, time …“, Amanda Staveley, the new director of the board of the ‘Magpies’ and visible head of PCP Capital Partners, pointed out in ‘Sky Sports’. The new leaders will make a revolution in all layers of the club with the aim of bringing it closer to Europe and to the ‘Big Six’. Their goal will be to be among the best … but it will take them several seasons. The first and inescapable objective is permanence. The descent would make everything reeling.
How much can they spend?
“We want to strengthen the team, but we have to work within the Financial Fair Play and make sure this is done in the longer term,” Staveley said. Newcastle, unlike what clubs like Chelsea, City or PSG did when their rich new owners arrived, will not be able to inject money indiscriminately to spend without restraint in the transfer market. The economic control of UEFA and the Premier will limit their spending … although they will not stop it. “The rules were designed to prevent an owner from buying a club and spending without restrictions. They should do so more slowly.”, confesses to MARCA Kieran Maguire, teacher and head of the economic portal ‘Price of Football’.
Within the rules of the Financial Fair Play of the Premier, they can have losses close to 120 million euros in three years. They will not be able to sign without limits as Chelsea, City or PSG did in their day, but they will have room to spend more. Ashley has left the club in a good financial position
Still, the increased business and sponsorship income from the arrival of the new owners is taken for granted. In addition, on television, in 2020-21, they received about 140 ‘kilos’. “Within the rules of the Financial Fair Play of the Premier, they can have losses close to 120 million euros in three years. In the last three they have had profits worth 45 and have invested 58 in infrastructures such as the academy that are exempt of the FPF. They will not be able to sign without limits as Chelsea, City or PSG did in their day, but they will have room to spend more. Ashley has left the club in a good economic position, “says Maguire. According to their calculations, they will have more than 220 million euros to spend on transfers immediately without violating the Financial Fair Play. A good ‘pinch’, although they will not buy Haaland or Mbappé in January.
What will happen to Steve Bruce and the current squad?
“I want to continue, but I have to be realistic. I am not stupid and I am aware of what could happen with the new owners.” This is how Steve Bruce pronounced on his continuity at the helm of Newcastle. The first change could come on the bench (the situation is not good, they are penultimate, in relegation places). “We support him. We will talk to him about the great signings we want to make. We have a great team, although we are excited to strengthen ourselves,” Staveley said. Callum Wilson, Saint-Maximin, Almirón, Willock, captain Lascelles or the Spanish Manquillo are some of the most prominent footballers. New pieces will arrive.