The Premier League confirmed today that the long-awaited £305 million takeover of Newcastle United by a Saudi Arabian-backed consortium has officially been completed, ending Mike Ashley’s 14-year tenure on Tyneside.
The deal – which has been ongoing for the last 18 months – was rubbed stamped late last night by the English top-flight after the Saudi government ended a four-and-a-half-year ban on Qatari broadcaster beIN Sports.
The consortium, consisting of Amanda Staveley's PCP Capital Partners (10% owners), RB Sports & Media (10% owners), and the Public Investment Fund (80% owners) – the Saudi sovereign wealth fund – have a total estimated wealth of over £300 billion, making The Magpies now one of the richest football clubs in the world.
Statements from the consortium
His Excellency Yasir Al-Rumayyan, Governor of PIF said: "We are extremely proud to become the new owners of Newcastle United, one of the most famous clubs in English football.
"We thank the Newcastle fans for their tremendously loyal support over the years and we are excited to work together with them."
Amanda Staveley of PCP Capital Partners said: "This is a long-term investment. We are excited about the future prospects for Newcastle United.
"We intend to instill a united philosophy across the Club, establish a clear purpose, and help provide leadership that will allow Newcastle United to go on to big achievements over the long term.
"Our ambition is aligned with the fans – to create a consistently successful team that’s regularly competing for major trophies and generates pride across the globe."
Jamie Reuben of RB Sports & Media said: "We look forward to a great future for Newcastle United. Newcastle is a fantastic city, which is why our family has been investing heavily in the area for many years. To become part of this great Club and its amazing fans is a privilege.
"We will build a true community Club, based upon our family’s knowledge of the city and in line with our plans that have been worked on closely with Newcastle City Council to deliver long-term sustainable growth for the area."
Premier League statement
In an official statement, the Premier League said: "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.
"All parties are pleased to have concluded this process which gives certainty and clarity to Newcastle United Football Club and their fans."
How did this takeover eventually go through?
If you told Newcastle fans 48 hours ago that their takeover, the one that has been 18 months in the making, was going to be completed today, they would have not believed you.
But this deal, which has been littered with scrutiny – mainly surrounding Saudi Arabia's abhorrent human rights record – and infamous 'red flags', was fast-tracked by the Premier League this week after they received legally-binding assurances from the Saudi government that they would not control the football club.
This news came after it was revealed that Saudi had lifted the ban on beIN Sports being shown in their country – meaning Saudis can now watch Newcastle and Premier League games legally – after a personal push from beIN boss and PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi.
Those two key developments were enough for the Premier League to green light the deal, which means the two legal cases Newcastle have been pursuing against the top-flight regarding this takeover look set to be dropped.
What will happen in the immediate future?
It is almost certain that the first big call the new owners will have to make a decision regarding Steve Bruce's position at the club – with it expected that he will be axed before Newcastle face Tottenham Hotspur in 10 days time.
Who his replacement will be remains to be seen – former Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe is the current favourite with bookmakers, and former Chelsea and Inter Milan manager Antonio Conte the second favourite.
According to The Telegraph, the consortium are actively looking to appoint a new CEO to assist Staveley, Reuben and non-executive chairman Al-Rumayyan with the running of the club – meaning managing director Lee Charnley is almost certain to leave the club.
And of course, them Sports Direct signs will be removed from around St James' Park...