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It is the takeover every Newcastle United supporter has dreamed of happening, without ever truly allowing themselves to believe it could, let alone would.
After 18 months of frustration, setbacks, claims and counterclaims, off-the-record briefings and legal challenges, Newcastle are about to become one of the richest clubs in the world, backed by the wealthiest sovereign wealth fund on the planet, Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund.
In theory, if the PIF finds the same avenues to funnel money into its new football venture that has transformed the Abu Dhabi-owned Manchester City and the Qatar-owned Paris St-Germain, Newcastle are about to be transformed into one of the most powerful football operations on the planet.
It is impossible for supporters not to get excited. After 14 years of being crushed by owner Mike Ashley’s perceived lack of ambition and much-criticised decision-making, this is a new beginning. It will feel like a completely new world for a club who have not won a domestic trophy since the FA Cup in 1955 and not been champions of England since 1927. There will be plenty of bitterness and jealousy from rival supporters.
There will also be opposition, and we should be well aware that this is about “sportswashing” – cleansing the image of a regime denounced for its human rights abuses, the war in Yemen and the brutal methods used for the suppression of political and social unrest inside the country, through a Premier League football club.
Yet, for those who seize on this aspect of the takeover, they cannot blame Newcastle fans for being overjoyed. They have, like City fans before them, won football’s lottery.
What is clear from the events of the last few weeks, which until Wednesday afternoon, had taken place exclusively in private under strict non-disclosure agreements is that this project mattered enormously to PIF and the Saudi government. It was the Saudi government that has, in the end, made this happen, because they needed it.
This will be one of PIF’s most high profile and important ventures, used to promote the country and its ruling regime. We should not forget the negative connotations of that even while we allow Newcastle supporters to celebrate what it means for a downtrodden football club in one of the most deprived parts of the country.
Yet, until the start of this week, all they had to look forward to was a series of court cases, legal challenges led by Ashley, in a seemingly forlorn attempt to revive this deal. Given PIF had publicly withdrawn their bid in July 2020, they were not even sure the Saudis were still interested in buying a club full of potential but deprived of success for so long.
It is also worth highlighting that when an arbitration hearing was postponed in the summer, designed to settle whether PIF was separate from the Saudi state, it was largely because the Saudi government had refused to help it proceed.
They had failed to disclose information required for Mike Ashley’s legal team to make their argument. They were, according to one well placed source “refusing to play ball because they did not believe anyone was entitled to tell them what to do, and certainly not a private company in a foreign country.”
Even after the Crown Prince had directly lobbied Prime Minister Boris Johnson in the summer of 2020 to ask him to intervene on their behalf - something he did but even that failed to budge the Premier League - that attitude had persisted throughout this saga.. Until Wednesday afternoon, it was impossible to watch a Premier League game, as well as countless other international events, legally in KSA. The Premier League’s official broadcast partner, BeIN Sport was banned from broadcasting.
Saudi Arabia topped the global piracy list, yet steadfastly refused to bow to international pressure and even blocked the Premier League attempts to take legal action against those responsible nine times.
The Premier League were effectively being asked to sell a football club to a state that had been stealing from them.
It was a deadlock the woman responsible for brokering the deal, Amanda Staveley, failed to break. That changed when the Saudis took over negotiations with the Premier League.
They asked directly what needed to happen and, crucially, acted upon that direction. They did not fudge anything, make excuses or even procrastinate on the matter.
It had taken them 18 months but the Saudis were suddenly playing ball after all. What it means for Staveley, long term, as she will initially front the operation at St James’ Park remains to be seen. There is talk it will be an interim role until the Saudis get settled and take full control.
Those talks with the Premier League have been going on for weeks in private but the blockage was cleared when the country’s recently appointed Media Minister, Majid Al Qasabi, personally intervened on the orders of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia and chairman of the PIF.
Sources have told Telegraph Sport that, having promised the Premier League to put their house in order, it was done rapidly. Last week, the UK government was informed that piracy would be stamped out and within days every illegal stream that had been listed by the UK authorities and BeIN Sport had been shut down.
An offer to pay $1bn in damages was made to Qatar and accepted. The company was also informed it could broadcast in KSA again. That legal dispute was settled and the Saudis had agreed to do absolutely everything asked of them by the Premier League.
As a compromise, and with the black and white legal issue preventing the takeover, resolved, the Premier League, as they had been discussing behind the scenes, began to fast track the process.
For all the moral concerns about allowing the Saudi regime to own Newcastle, they were already investing in a variety of international companies and at every level of the UK economy, including buying arms from the British government.
Morals did not come into it, piracy did. And after months of refusing to budge, the Saudis realised they wanted to buy into English football far too much to let a long standing geopolitical rivalry with Qatar get in the way.
It has taken a long time for the penny to drop, but Newcastle United are about to be showered in petrodollars. Riches few can dream about are about to become a reality on Tyneside.