Leaked Letter Shows UK Government Insisting it Has ‘No Role’ in Newcastle Takeover Decision

The UK government have confirmed that they cannot impact Newcastle United’s proposed takeover, despite calls from numerous organisations to veto the deal.

The takeover agreement is largely funded by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, which is led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and it has attracted plenty of controversy as a result of Saudi Arabia’s poor human rights record.

Mohammed bin Salman has attracted plenty of criticism

Groups like Amnesty UK have called for the purchase to be blocked by the government as a show of defiance against Saudi Arabia, pointing to things like the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi as proof the state should not be welcomed in the UK.

However, in leaked letters seen by The Times, UK officials have informed such organisations that they have no influence over who the Premier League chooses to do business with.

“There is no government role in this [Premier League] process,” a letter read. “The UK government supports Saudi Arabia’s continued diversification efforts under its Vision 2030 strategy.

“Saudi Arabia’s investments through its PIF form part of these efforts. The PIF invests in many sectors internationally, with their potential stake in the ownership of Newcastle United FC part of this wider investment.”

Mike Ashley has agreed a £300m deal to sell the club

The letter did also accept that there are concerns over Saudi Arabia’s use of the death penalty, as well as human rights infringements as a whole, but added “over recent years, we have seen an improvement in social and economic rights”.

On top of the numerous human rights concerns, the takeover has also been scrutinised over Saudi Arabia’s history of illegally broadcasting Premier League games.

League officials have submitted numerous legal complaints over the state’s role in the Arabsat network, which has regularly streamed English matches without a license.

Richard Lewis, the chief executive of the All England Lawn Tennis Club, said Wimbledon “remained concerned” that piracy is still a major issue in Saudi Arabia, but Saudi’s media minister, Majed Al Qasabi has disputed claims that the government is somehow involved.

“Wimbledon’s press release baselessly claims that beoutQ is based in Saudi Arabia and suggests that Saudi Arabia is somehow complicit in beoutQ’s broadcasts,” he said.


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