Saudi Arabian-backed consortium pulls out of bid to buy Newcastle United

Statement from the group says they withdrew their bid 'with regret, as we were excited and fully committed to invest in the great city of Newcastle'

NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, ENGLAND - JULY 26: Virgil van Dijk of Liverpool scores his team's first goal from a header to make score 1-1 during the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Liverpool FC at St. James Park on July 26, 2020 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. Football Stadiums around Europe remain empty due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in all fixtures being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)
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A Saudi Arabian-backed consortium has pulled out of a bid to buy Newcastle United.

Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund (PIF), PCP Capital Partners and Reuben Brothers had been attempting to purchase the Premier League club for a number of months.

Documents relating to a £300m takeover had been registered with the Premier League 16 weeks ago.

The decision means Newcastle will remain under the ownership of British businessman Mike Ashley.

A statement read: "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.

“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.”

The Premier League's board had been carrying out an examination of the proposed takeover as part of its "owners and directors test", which evaluates the suitability of ownership groups.

However, league chief executive Richard Masters suggested last month that the proposed takeover had become complicated.

It is understood the Premier League's primary concern was that the deal would set a precedent in allowing one of its clubs to effectively be state-funded.

The PIF is a commercial entity, and it is understood it sought on multiple occasions to reassure the league over its independence from the country's rulers.

It is also understood the PIF learned as far back as April that there were no 'red flags' on the deal.

The fund was preparing to invest £250m in the club over five years, and additional money to benefit the wider Newcastle community.

The Premier League has not yet commented on the failed takeover.