Boris Johnson urges ‘clarity’ on Saudi bid for Newcastle FC

Inside the Sports Direct Arena (St. James Park Stadium), the home of Newcastle Unite Football Club. (Shutterstock)
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Updated 09 August 2020

Boris Johnson urges ‘clarity’ on Saudi bid for Newcastle FC

  • The consortium, led by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, pulled out last month

DUBAI: Pressure is growing on English football authorities to explain why they have not approved a £300 million ($390 million) takeover of Newcastle United football club by a Saudi-led consortium.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he would like to see a statement from the Premier League on its failure to reach a decision on the deal, agreed upon in April.

“There must be clarity on why there was a significant delay in a decision being made, and on the reasons why the consortium de- cided to withdraw their bid,” John- son wrote in response to fans.

“I appreciate that many Newcastle fans were hoping this takeover would go ahead and can understand their sense of disappointment.”

The consortium, led by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, pulled out last month because of what it called an “unforeseeablylong process” in obtaining approval.

But that has not dimmed enthusiasm in the northeast of England for the deal, which came with the prospect of hundreds of millions of pounds of investment in the club and the community. An online petition organized by Newcastlefans has attracted nearly 100,000 signatures, and 15 MPs have written to the Premier League chief executive Richard Masters express- ing their dismay.

Despite the formal withdrawal of the bid, the consortium members are keen to table the offer again if the logjam can be cleared.

The multibillionaire Reuben brothers, who already have sports business interests in the English northeast and who would own 10 per cent of Newcastle as part of the consortium, said last week they were “totally committed” to the deal and asked the Premier League to think again.

Amanda Staveley, the British financier who brokered the deal and

who would also take 10 per cent, said she was “humbled” by the fans’ continuing support for the takeover.

“Speaking on behalf of myself and my family, the Reuben family and the PIF, we are not just overwhelmed by the support, we are humbled by it.”

 

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Lebanese footballer dies of bullet wound

Updated 18 September 2020

Lebanese footballer dies of bullet wound

  • Mohamed Atwi, 32, played as a midfielder for a number of Lebanese clubs and won the national league three times with Beirut’s Ansar, his club for almost a decade
  • Tributes poured in for the player, who was also capped three times for his country

BEIRUT: A prominent Lebanese footballer has died of a bullet wound sustained last month during a funeral for one of the victims of the Beirut port blast, his club said Friday.
Mohamed Atwi, 32, played as a midfielder for a number of Lebanese clubs and won the national league three times with Beirut’s Ansar, his club for almost a decade.
“A sad day for sport... a great loss for Lebanese football,” Wael Chehayeb, an official with his latest club Al-Akhaa Al-Ahly, posted on social media.
Tributes poured in for the player, who was also capped three times for his country.
Atwi was hit in the head by a bullet as he walked on a street in a Beirut neighborhood last month.
Initial reports suggested he was struck by a falling bullet fired in the air from a nearby procession mourning one of the firefighters killed in the August 4 port explosion.
Atwi’s family however has demanded a full investigation into the circumstances of his death, over which no arrests have been made.
Shooting in the air for celebrations and funerals is common in Lebanon despite recurring injuries from falling bullets.