Outside St James’ Park, ecstatic supporters greeted the news of Newcastle United’s takeover by a Saudi Arabia-led consortium with beer, hugs, and chants of “we’ve got our club back.”
The purchase put an end to owner Mike Ashley’s profoundly unpopular rule, which had long been marred by what many viewed as a lack of investment at the club, Reuters reported.
“Yesssssssss. We can dare to hope again,” tweeted former Newcastle captain Alan Shearer, an outspoken opponent of Ashley’s administration.
The chair of the Newcastle United Supporters’ Trust, Greg Tomlinson, wrote to the new owners, saying that for the first time in many years, fans believed that their dream of an ambitious Newcastle may now become a reality.
“We admire your desire and tenacity to buy our football club despite the protracted issues with the Premier League … we look forward to working with you to rejuvenate one of the greatest clubs in England…” wrote Tomlinson.
TV stars Ant McPartlin and Declan Donnelly voiced their delight at the takeover, while Taylor Payne, a longstanding Newcastle supporter, and podcaster, predicted a “new dawn” at the club.
The glamorous face of the bid, UK businesswoman Amanda Staveley, was also seen celebrating.
PCP Capital Partners, founded by Staveley, would own 10% of the club, while David and Simon Reuben, billionaire UK property entrepreneurs, will own the remaining 10%.
However, the huge Saudi sovereign Public Investment Fund (PIF), with a total asset value of roughly $500 billion, has been the primary financial force behind the proposal, according to RT.
Newcastle’s new owners net worth vs. Man City’s owners net worth 🤑 pic.twitter.com/q0ghdOljQG— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) October 7, 2021
With their new Saudi owners’ huge funds surpassing even mega-rich rivals Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain—both of whom are powered by petrocash from the Middle East—Newcastle fans are already dreaming of a buying spree on fresh talent that would see them climb back up the league, with dreams of returning to European competition and potentially ending their long wait for silverware.
Earlier on Oct.7, Amnesty International strongly condemned the Premier League, saying a change its owners’ and directors’ test would help to address human rights issues and prevent “sportswashing.”
“This is against the backdrop of a strategy by Saudi Arabia to use sports teams, athletes and major sporting events in the country to distract from its national human rights crises,” Minky Worden, director of global initiatives at Human Rights Watch, told Reuters.
“Given the Saudi Arabian government’s poor human rights record, this is a wake-up call to fans, broadcasters and players that sports should not be a tool for erasing human rights abuse,” he added.