Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman urged Boris Johnson to intervene in Newcastle takeover
Revealed: Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia urged Prime Minister Boris Johnson to intervene in Newcastle United’s £ 300 million takeover after it was blocked by the Premier League
- Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was desperate for a takeover
- He warned Boris Johnson that Anglo-Saudi relations would be harmed
- Crown Prince wanted Prime Minister to intervene in a £ 300 million offer
- Premier League was concerned about alleged state-sponsored piracy
- Mike Ashley thinks Newcastle fans have ‘won the lottery, but payout has been refused’
Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman urged Boris Johnson to intervene in Newcastle United’s takeover by telling the Premier League to ‘correct’ its decision to block the deal.
In an extraordinary exchange of views revealed by the Daily Mail, Bin Salman warned the Prime Minister on June 27 last year that Anglo-Saudi relations would be harmed unless the £ 300 million buyout was approved. His message to Mr Johnson was: “We expect the English Premier League to reconsider and correct its wrong conclusion.”
Johnson asked one of his senior aides, Lord Eddie Lister, to investigate the matter, but the Saudis withdrew from the trial in late July after the Premier League failed to approve them as the club’s new owners.
Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (left) wanted Boris Johnson’s intervention in his failed £ 300 million attempt to take over Newcastle United
Newcastle United was subject to a £ 300 million buyout, but the Premier League blocked it
The Prime Minister later backed calls to the Premier League to reveal why the takeover had not been passed.
The Crown Prince was outraged after the Premier League demanded to know whether the Saudi state – in fact, Bin Salman himself – would be the owners of Newcastle.
The Premier League was concerned about alleged state-sponsored piracy in the country, but the purchasing consortium insisted that the public investment fund running the deal was separate from the state.
The PIF, along with financier Amanda Staveley and the Reuben brothers, struck a deal exactly a year ago with Newcastle owner Mike Ashley for the sale of the club.
That agreement will remain in effect and Ashley is awaiting an arbitration hearing against the Premier League in an attempt to approve the takeover.
Mike Ashley (left) remains determined to explain the reasoning behind the decision
A source, referring to Ashley, said Wednesday night: ‘In Mike’s eyes, the club has been sold. He thinks Newcastle fans have won the lottery, but a payout has been denied by the Premier League.
“He wants to know why that happened and is determined to seal the deal.”
Interestingly, a letter of resignation sent to Newcastle club shop staff this week referred to the ‘anticipated transfer of ownership of the club’ and ‘new owners of Newcastle Football Club’.
There is optimism that the deal will be revived, but that depends on the outcome of the private arbitration hearing, which is yet to begin.
The revelations about top-level government involvement will be of interest to Newcastle supporters, who blame the Premier League for not denying them new owners. Sportsmail reported on June 21 last year that a decision on the acquisition was near and that it was expected to go ahead given the increased government involvement.
It was then said that the government was keen to maintain ties with Saudi Arabia.
Bin Salman warned that Anglo-Saudi relations could be harmed if decision is not ‘corrected’
Johnson previously wrote a letter to Newcastle fans sympathizing with their disappointment
Documents released this week revealed that the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sports wrote a letter to the Premier League on June 21 about an “ imminent ” takeover decision. A Whitehall meeting to discuss Saudi Arabia was scheduled for the following day.
But that announcement never came, and within a week, Bin Salman lobbied the Prime Minister to intervene.
In August, Mr Johnson took the unusual step of sending an email to members of the Newcastle United Supporters Trust.
“I appreciate that many Newcastle fans hoped this takeover bid would go through and I understand their disappointment,” he said.
I have seen the recent email from the Independent Football Ombudsman to Newcastle fans and agree with their conclusion that the Premier League should make a statement on this matter.
Lord Lister said on Wednesday evening, ‘The Saudis were getting upset. We weren’t lobbying to buy it or not. We wanted them (Premier League) to be straightforward and say yes or no, don’t let (the Saudis) dangle. ‘