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Sovereign fund withdraws bid for Newcastle United

A consortium including Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund (PIF) has withdrawn its £300 million takeover of English Premier League team Newcastle United Football Club.

The buyer consortium also included PCP Capital Partners and Reuben Brothers and would have taken an 80% stake in the football club. The group cited the global uncertainty as a result of the pandemic as well as the prolonged process.

"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," the investor group said in a statement.

"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."

The deal previously came under scrutiny by Amnesty International alleging Saudi Arabia's PIF, backed by crown price Mohammed bin Salman, was "sportswashing" its abysmal human rights record by buying into the club.

Under Mohammed bin Salman's leadership there has been a sweeping crackdown on human rights, with government critics and human rights defenders arrested, tortured and put on trial.

Amnesty International UK's economic affairs programme director Peter Frankental said: "Looking ahead, there needs to be a rule change to ensure the Premier League's Owners' and Directors' test provides proper scrutiny of the human rights records of those trying to buy into English football, not least when the buyers are governments or government representatives."

Read more: Saudi ArabiaPublic Investment FundPCP Capital PartnersReuben Brothers
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