Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Premier League and Foreign Office ‘held Microsoft Teams meetings and exchanged private Whatsapp messages just weeks before Saudi takeover of Newcastle’… as newly released emails appear to debunk claims that government had ‘no role’

Must read

  • Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund bought 80% of Newcastle United in 2021
  • Previously unreleased emails detailing the takeover have now come to light 
  • Everton players will be fed up with the owners – listen to It’s All Kicking Off 

Emails released by the foreign office appear to debunk the government’s insistence that it played no role in helping the Premier League ratify the Saudi Public Investment Fund’s takeover of Newcastle in 2021.

Having obtained 27 pages of correspondence through an FOI request, the Athletic report that the contents included evidence of involvement on behalf of the government, despite a spokesperson previously claiming they ‘have not had a role at any point in the takeover of Newcastle United‘.

The Premier League have also previously denied being leaned on by government officials over the purchase of the North East club, with Richard Masters stating that there was ‘no pressure applied’.

However, the now released messages show a stream of collaboration between the two entities, including Microsoft Teams meetings and private Whatsapp exchanges.

In one of the email exchanges seen by the Athletic, sent nine days before the takeover, the UK’s amassador to Saudi Arabia, Neil Crompton, was told that the Premier League had ‘agreed to settle differences with the PIF so that their investment in Newcastle can go ahead’.

Crompton, in an email exchange with another member of the Foreign Office, said the information had come from a conversation with Chad Woodward – the then director of trade and investment for the UK in Saudi Arabia.  

The takeover of Newcastle United has come back under the spotlight after some previously unseen emails between the Premier League and the UK Government emerged in the Athletic

Amanda Staveley (left) and Yasir Al-Rumayyan (right) worked for more than a year to get the deal over the line after the Premier League stalled due to concerns over Saudi state control

Amanda Staveley (left) and Yasir Al-Rumayyan (right) worked for more than a year to get the deal over the line after the Premier League stalled due to concerns over Saudi state control

Mail Sport has contacted the Foreign Office for comment.

The takeover stalled for 18 months before the Premier League approved it in 2021.

The league had reservations as to whether the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia would control the club, something they were not willing to sanction.

But the Premier League have continually repeated that they were not influenced in making a decision in any way by the government, despite these new pieces of correspondence appearing to debunk such claims. 

PIF, which has £560bn of assets under their management, were joined in the takever by Amanda Staveley’s PCP Capital Partners and the Reuben brothers, who shared the remaining 20 per cent equally.

The deal was initially abandoned in the summer of 2020 when the group were unable to provide separation between themselves and the Saudi state, headed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

They were later able to provide sufficient proof that the Saudi state would not be in control of the club, and they passed the Premier League owners’ and directors’ test.

Mike Ashley's 14-year reign as owner of Newcastle has came to an end with a £305m takeover

Mike Ashley’s 14-year reign as owner of Newcastle has came to an end with a £305m takeover

After more than a year of stalling, a confirmation statement in 2021 read: ‘The Premier League, Newcastle United Football Club and St James Holdings Limited have today settled the dispute over the takeover of the club by the consortium of PIF, PCP Capital Partners and RB Sports & Media. 

‘Following the completion of the Premier League’s Owners’ and Directors’ Test, the club has been sold to the consortium with immediate effect.

‘The legal disputes concerned which entities would own and/or have the ability to control the club following the takeover.

‘All parties have agreed the settlement is necessary to end the long uncertainty for fans over the club’s ownership. The Premier League has now received legally binding assurances that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will not control Newcastle United Football Club.

‘All parties are pleased to have concluded this process which gives certainty and clarity to Newcastle United Football Club and their fans.’

Newcastle have gone on to achieve great success since the takeover, getting into the top four and into the UEFA Champions League.


It’s All Kicking Off is an exciting new podcast from Mail Sport that promises a different take on Premier League football.

It is available on MailOnline, Mail+, YouTube, Apple Music and Spotify.

Latest article