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Premier League reject Newcastle claim over Saudi bid

MANCHESTER, England (Reuters) - The Premier League has rejected Newcastle United’s claim that they had turned down a takeover bid from a Saudi consortium saying the suggestion is incorrect.

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Premier League - Newcastle United fans outside the stadium during the Newcastle United v Liverpool match - St James' Park, Newcastle, Britain - July 26, 2020 A Newcastle United fan outside a pub thats outside the stadium during the Newcastle United v Liverpool match, as play resumes behind closed doors following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) Action Images via Reuters/Lee Smith

Newcastle said on Wednesday that the Premier League had rejected the bid made by PCP Capital Partners, the Reuben Brothers and the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia (PIF).

The Premier League had never stated that they had rejected the bid and the consortium itself stated in July that it had “withdrawn” the proposal, citing the lengthy process.

“The club and its owners do not accept that Premier League chief executive Richard Masters and the Premier League have acted appropriately in relation to this matter and will be considering all relevant options available to them,” said the club statement.

But the league responded on Thursday saying they were “disappointed and surprised” at the club’s statement.

“The club’s assertion that the Premier League has rejected the takeover is incorrect,” the league said in their statement.

“The Premier League Board has, on a number of occasions, given its opinion about which entities it believes would have control over the club should the consortium proceed with the acquisition. That opinion is based on legal advice.

“This means the potential takeover could proceed to the next stage should the relevant entities provide all appropriate information. They would then be subject to a suitability assessment by the Board. As an alternative, the Board has repeatedly offered independent arbitration as a way forward since June.

“It is also incorrect to suggest these decisions were taken by any individual; they were agreed unanimously by all Premier League Board members,” concluded the league.

Masters said on Wednesday that the process of evaluating takeover bids was being evaluated.

The review of the ‘Owners and Directors Test’, previously known as the ‘Fit and Proper Persons’ test, was already underway before the Newcastle case, which had prompted criticism from the club and their fans.

The Premier League, along with the Football League (EFL), had committed to a review of the rules and procedure following the demise of League One club Bury after its ownership problems.

“Generally speaking, (with) the owners’ and directors’ test, we are in the process of having a look at it anyway and all of our rules require a fresh look every now and then,” said Premier League CEO Richard Masters.

“We were doing so in concert with the FA and EFL post Bury in any event. So I think that will continue,” he told reporters.

Masters had said that he understood why fans were frustrated with the lack of information through the process but said that it was a tricky balancing act for the league.

“It’s right that in situations of commercial transactions there is an expectation of confidentiality and we certainly support that. That has to be balanced off against I think of the ability to keep fans updated if things do become complicated and do take longer than normal,” he said.

Reporting by Simon Evans; Editing by Christian Radnedge

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