A group of investors led by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund has announced its formal withdrawal from its bid to buy English Premier League club Newcastle on Thursday, citing “time itself as an enemy of the transaction” particularly during the “difficult phase” marked by the global COVID-19 pandemic.
“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,” the consortium said in a statement.
“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,” the group of investors added.
Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund (PIF), was in talks to buy UK Premier League football team Newcastle United for around $445 million, the Wall Street Journal reported earlier this year citing people familiar with the matter.
The PIF is the centerpiece of Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ambitious Vision 2030 program which seeks to change the fund into a giant investment vehicle to support the Kingdom’s economic diversification away from oil.
“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,” the consortium said.
The deal would have meant a large cash injection into the football club, which could play a major role in improving the team’s performance. Newcastle fans have long bemoaned the lack of investment in a club which is known for its large and passionate support base.
Al Arabiya English’s Matthew Amlôt contributed to this report.