England’s Newcastle United soccer team has been purchased for $409 million by a consortium led by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund, following a year-and-a-half of disputes regarding the Saudi government’s involvement.
Mohammed bin Salman, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, heads the fund, which is set to become the world’s largest by 2030, managing $2 trillion in financial assets.
On Thursday, the Premier League received legally binding assurances from the Saudi Kingdom guaranteeing the following:
- It will not control the club.
- The consortium’s purchase will be separate from the Kingdom.
Before the deal was approved, activists had called on the Premier League to consider Saudi Arabia’s alleged human rights abuses, arguing that a club purchase would be “sports washing” on the Kingdom’s behalf.
Mike Ashley, who owned the team for 14 years, will no longer be involved with the 128-year-old organization.
The Saudi consortium will own 80% of the team. Property developers Simon and David Reuben will own 10%. The remaining 10% will go to PCP Capital Partners.
Qatari media network BeIN Sport, which owns Premier League media rights in the Middle Eastern region, had been banned from broadcasting in Saudi Arabia due to a dispute over the country’s involvement with pirated content. BeIN is now clear to air matches in the country following the lift of the ban this week.