British minister pushed for controversial Saudi takeover – media – RT Sport News

Premier League side Newcastle United were taken over by a Saudi investment fund last year

A former senior member of the UK’s ruling Conservative Party has sought advice from Premier League officials on how to move forward Saudi Arabia’s then stalled takeover of Premier League side Newcastle United , documents revealed.

Lord Gerry Grimstone, who at the time was Britain’s Minister for Investment, asked Premier League chairman Gary Hoffman for advice on how to identify « a way forwardfor the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF), according to documents, to complete what was a controversial takeover of the football club.

The UK government had previously said on several occasions that it was not involved in the takeover process.

The relevant documents were obtained via a Freedom of Information request and have been investigated by The Guardian.

Grimstone, who has close ties to Saudi Arabia, was appointed to the post in March 2020 by former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

He indicated to Hoffman that he was capable of « confirm to the highest levels of the Saudi government if this is deliverable and then we will all know where it stands.”

Grimstone’s contribution appears to contradict Johnson’s earlier statements in April 2021 in which he said “The government was not involved at any time in the takeover talks over the sale of Newcastle.”

A spokesperson for the UK’s Department for International Trade (DIT) responded to an earlier report in The Guardian in May and said Grimstone had not attempted to influence Premier League officials in their decision-making, adding that he was simplydungeon[ing] aware of major investments that may be coming to the UK.

Among the information contained in the documents released as a result of the freedom of information request, there appears to be an indication that the stalled takeover bid was seen as potentially damaging to political relations between the UK and Saudi Arabia.

It also emerged that Hoffman had told Grimstone that he had been told by Premier League legal counsel that because the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) controlled the Public Investment Fund, it would mean the Saudi state would be required to pass the « fit and suitable people”test – a mandatory requirement for any Consortium figure attempting to buy a top-flight English club.

Don't expect Newcastle fans to rebel against the Saudis - toppling the old regime was more important to them than washing sports

However, The Guardian report indicates that the Saudi hierarchy rejected this legal opinion and indicated that it would not submit to the test of the owners. It has also been suggested that the Saudi state will most likely fail the test and cause further complications for the takeover.

Saudi Arabia has been repeatedly accused of trying to « sports wash” its reputation for hosting high profile sporting events in its territory in an effort to whitewash accusations of extreme human rights abuses.

He has also been linked to the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

It is believed that this was not reported by the ownership test, but rather by the pirating of sporting events by Saudi TV.

Grimstone will indicate in a note that he « discussed possible ways to solve this puzzle”. These potential solutions have been redacted in the documents.

Despite apparent efforts to facilitate a deal in 2020, the takeover did not progress at the time and was not formalized until October last year.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia continued to refuse to submit to the Premier League owners’ test, prompting the Premier League to say it had received « legally binding insurancethat the Saudi state would not control Newcastle United.

Grimstone resigned as UK cabinet minister in July, shortly after Boris Johnson left as prime minister, but spoke of his pride in “secure a £50 billion investment.

This sum included two separate £10 billion transactions with funds from Qatar and Abu Dhabi.

Newcastle United avoided relegation from the Premier League last season, largely thanks to the money spent on players during the January transfer window after the takeover. They are generally considered to be one of the richest football clubs in the world since the Saudi purchase.


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