DISCOVERED: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman urged Prime Minister Boris Johnson to intervene in the £ 300million takeover of Newcastle United after it was blocked by the Premier League
- Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was determined to take over
- He warned Boris Johnson that Anglo-Saudi relations would be damaged
- The Crown Prince wanted the Prime Minister to intervene on a £ 300 million bid
- The Premier League had concerns about alleged state-sponsored broadcast piracy
- Mike Ashley believes Newcastle fans “won the lottery but were refused payout”
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman called on Boris Johnson to intervene in the Newcastle United takeover by urging the Premier League to “correct” its decision to block the deal.
In an extraordinary exchange revealed by the Daily Mail, Bin Salman warned the Prime Minister on June 27 last year that if the £ 300m buyout were not approved, Anglo-Saudi relations would be damaged. His message to Mr Johnson was: “We expect the English Premier League to reconsider and correct its wrong conclusion.”
Mr Johnson asked one of his senior officials, Lord Eddie Lister, to investigate the matter, but the Saudis withdrew from the process in late July after the Premier League failed to recognize them as the club’s new owners.
The Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (left) wanted Boris Johnson to intervene in his failed £ 300 million takeover attempt from Newcastle United
Newcastle United have been the subject of a £ 300m buyout but this was blocked by the Premier League
The Prime Minister later backed calls to the Premier League to reveal why the takeover hadn’t passed.
The Crown Prince was furious after the Premier League wanted to know if the Saudi state – in fact Bin Salman himself – would own Newcastle.
The Premier League had concerns about alleged state-sponsored broadcast piracy in the country, but the buying consortium insisted that the public investment fund running the deal was separate from the state.
Exactly a year ago, the PIF, together with the financier Amanda Staveley and the Reuben brothers, signed a contract with Newcastle owner Mike Ashley to sell the club.
That agreement remains in place and Ashley is awaiting an arbitration hearing against the Premier League to seek approval for the acquisition.
Mike Ashley (left) remains determined to explain the reasons for the decision
A source referring to Ashley said Wednesday night: “In Mike’s eyes, the club is sold. He believes Newcastle fans won the lottery but did not receive a payout from the Premier League.
“He wants to know why this happened and is determined to sign the deal.”
Interestingly, a dismissal letter sent to Newcastle Club Store staff this week referred to the “expected transfer of ownership of the club” and the “new owners of Newcastle Football Club”.
There is optimism that the deal will be revived, but that depends on the outcome of the private arbitration hearing, which has not yet started.
The revelations of government engagement at the highest level will be of interest to Newcastle supporters who accuse the Premier League of denying them new ownership. Sportsmail reported on June 21 last year that a decision on the takeover was imminent and expected given increased government engagement.
At the time it was said that the government wanted to maintain relations with Saudi Arabia.
Bin Salman warned that if the decision is not “corrected”, Anglo-Saudi relations could be damaged.
Johnson previously wrote a letter to Newcastle fans sympathizing with their disappointment
Documents released this week revealed that the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sports wrote to the Premier League on June 21st to make an “imminent” takeover decision. A Whitehall meeting was planned for the following day to discuss Saudi Arabia.
But that announcement never got through and within a week Bin Salman asked the Prime Minister to intervene.
In August, Mr Johnson took the unusual step of emailing members of the Newcastle United Supporters Trust.
“I think a lot of Newcastle fans have hoped this takeover bid will go through and that they can understand their disappointment,” he said.
‘I saw the email recently sent to Newcastle fans by the Independent Football Ombudsman and I agree with their conclusion that the Premier League should issue a statement on the case.
Lord Lister said on Wednesday evening: The Saudis were upset. We didn’t advertise that they would buy it or not buy it. We wanted them (Premier League) to be straightforward and say yes or no, don’t let (the Saudis) dangle. ‘