Newcastle United’s proposed takeover by a Saudi Arabia backed consortium has been put on hold as they are waiting for approval from the ‘Premier League’s owners’ and directors’ test’, according to the BBC.
Richard Masters, the Premier League CEO, admitted there’s no timeframe set for when the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia (PIF) will be able to complete the takeover of the Tyneside club.
Hasni Abidi is a political expert on the Arab world, director of CERMAM (Centre for Studies and Research on the Arab and Mediterranean World), and also teaches Global Studies at the University of Geneva.
PIF are also believed to be looking at buying Marseille, and speaking to Foot Mercato, Abidi explained why it’s relatively easier to buy the French club rather than Newcastle.
“Marseille have two advantages. The first is that in the Gulf countries, we know that relations are good between France President Emmanuel Macron and Mohammad Bin Salman [MBS]. Macron would not be against, from what I read, Marseille being controlled by Saudi funds,” he said.
Abidi also explains Mohammad Bin Salman would need support from local politicians to buy a club.
“On the power side, we expect a political sponsorship of this takeover of Marseille. The perfect example: the PSG, without Nicolas Sarkozy, had no chance of having the support of the current emir’s father. That’s how it works on the Gulf side,” Abidi explained.
“They invest, but they need political support. We are in an important duality: the French president is not against a Saudi presence in Marseille.
“MBS is not against it, on the contrary, but I do not know developments behind the scenes between the two, that Marseille is a demand of the country and not only business between an American and a Saudi.
“One cannot ask the future king of Saudi Arabia to deal with an American businessman (Frank Mccourt). The ones who are going to throw the test balloons are the intermediaries. It won’t be the prince himself or the two men I mentioned.
“Intermediaries will be used to find out if the club is for sale and at what price. There is not a word in sports circles in Saudi Arabia because until Mohammed bin Salman shows interest, no one says anything.”
Abidi stressed the difficulties faced taking over the Tyneside club have not gone down well in the Middle East.
“With Newcastle, there is a problem compared to Marseille. I have not looked at the laws for Great Britain, but it is difficult to buy a large club when one has setbacks with the trade rules,” he stressed.
“But the British government has made it clear: the Saudis must get it through with the Premier League. It annoys the Saudi politicians since MBS spoke out about the takeover of Newcastle. The Saudis saw that there was not overflowing enthusiasm for their participation.
“Do they have the means and the desires to take the two clubs [Newcastle and Marseille]? I think they have the financial means to do so. The Saudis can also play a competition in the two cases by trying to see which would be the political guide, which would give more facilities and advantages to a buyer who is fundamentally political?”