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BREAKING: Saudi Backed Consortium Backs Out of Newcastle Sale

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Time was the biggest enemy in this takeover saga that has reached an unfortunate conclusion.

Newcastle United v Liverpool FC - Premier League Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Keith Downie of Sky Sports has broken the news that the Saudi PIF backed consortium led by Amanda Staveley has formally withdrawn their bid to buy Newcastle United.

The group cites the amount of time taken by the Premier to approve the sale as well as global uncertainty as the reasons the group pulled out of the deal for the club.

The Chronicle have released the full statement sent to Sky Sports by the ownership group

The statement reads as follows:

“We feel great compassion for the Newcastle United fans with whom we shared a great commitment to help.

“We would like to say that we truly appreciated your incredible expressions of support and your patience throughout this process. We are sorry it is not to be.

“Unfortunately the prolonged process under the current circumstances coupled with global uncertainty has rendered the potential investment no longer commercially viable”

Amanda Staveley added in her own words of sympathy for the fans.

Finally the consortium have released a longer statement sent to multiple media outlets that reads as follows:

With a deep appreciation for the Newcastle community and the significance of its football club, we have come to the decision to withdraw our interest in acquiring Newcastle United Football Club. We do so with regret, as we were excited and fully committed to invest in the great city of Newcastle and believe we could have returned the Club to the position of its history, tradition and fans’ merit.

Unfortunately, the prolonged process under the current circumstances coupled with global uncertainty has rendered the potential investment no longer commercially viable. To that end, we feel a responsibility to the fans to explain the lack of alternatives from an investment perspective.

As an autonomous and purely commercial investor, our focus was on building long-term value for the Club, its fans and the community as we remained committed to collaboration, practicality and proactivity through a difficult period of global uncertainty and significant challenges for the fans and the Club.

Ultimately, during the unforeseeably prolonged process, the commercial agreement between the Investment Group and the Club’s owners expired and our investment thesis could not be sustained, particularly with no clarity as to the circumstances under which the next season will start and the new norms that will arise for matches, training and other activities.

As often occurs with proposed investments in uncertain periods, time itself became an enemy of the transaction, particularly during this difficult phase marked by the many real challenges facing us all from Covid-19

We feel great compassion for the Newcastle United fans with whom we shared a great commitment to help Newcastle United harness its tremendous potential and build upon its impressive and historic legacy while working closely with the local community.

We would like to say that we truly appreciated your incredible expressions of support and your patience throughout this process. We are sorry it is not to be.

We wish the team and everyone associated with it much good luck and success.

There has not been a statement released by Mike Ashley or the Premier League as of the publishing of this piece.

Oxford United v Newcastle United - FA Cup Fourth Round: Replay
Ashley has not released any statement on the issue
Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images

This news is of course a big blow to the Newcastle fan base who have been strung along a lengthy takeover process, that actually featured a cooperative Mike Ashley, solid buyers, and hope that change could come to the club as well as the city.

What began as a wonderful story full of hope quickly became a story of dread as multiple delays to the sale happening began to pop up. Everything from human right’s issues, to piracy, to no knowing who would run the club, led to a 4 month long fit and proper test that was never completed.

The Premier League have failed to reveal themselves why this fit and proper test took so long, but many fans and media members alike have jumped to their own individual conclusions, which has led to further unrest and division among fans.

The fact of the matter is, this was no ordinary bid. This is a full on nation planning on investing in the team and being a majority stakeholder. This was always going to be a complex process regardless of if it was an investment fund of Ireland, South Africa or Saudi Arabia.

It is incredibly unfortunate that Newcastle fans were caught in between a geopolitical conflict, a piracy issue, and a shocking revelation that the way to determine whether an “owner is fit and proper” is inconsistent, subjective, and as far from as transparent as it could be.

There are clear faults on both sides. Saudi Arabia dragged their feet in taking the necessary actions in order to eliminate a piracy issue, that in my opinion, they likely started and had a major hand in contributing to.

The Premier League’s fit and proper test was incredibly vague, and is a key reason why this took so long. At the end of this whole saga fans, journalists, and potential owners still don’t know who carries out the test, why the criteria is so broad, and how long it should take.

Personally, one of the worst parts of this whole takeover saga was Premier League stringing along fans for this roller-coaster of emotions. An action that is incredibly dense coming from an organization that has just declared mental health as a priority. Our writers over the past few months have written about the mental strain this has caused for them as well as others, and there are tons of fans who’s stories were never told that have felt similar emotions.

Now, Newcastle fans find themselves 3 days into the transfer window, once again hopeless, with a clueless manager, and an owner who couldn't be arsed about the club.

Have a drink Newcastle family, this is going to be a long season.