Newcastle takeover: Premier League to ‘fully consider’ Hatice Cengiz concerns

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June 6, 2020
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    St James' Park

    Newcastle United were 13th in the Premier League when the season was suspended in March

    Premier League chief executive Richard Masters says he will “fully consider” calls for Newcastle United’s proposed takeover to be blocked.

    Hatice Cengiz, the fiancee of murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi, has written to the league to oppose the deal.

    Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) is financing a £300m takeover.

    Western intelligence agencies believe that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who heads the PIF, ordered Khashoggi’s murder in 2018 – which he denies.

    But in a letter seen by BBC Sport, Masters tells Cengiz’s lawyer: “I assure you and your client that her representations are being fully considered in our process.”

    Cengiz’s legal team say it is the first acknowledgment by the Premier League that her views are being taken into account in the takeover, which is being checked under its owners’ and directors’ test.

    In the letter, Masters also writes to Rodney Dixon QC to say that although he “remains extremely sympathetic to your client’s position” a requested meeting is “not possible, particularly in light of correspondence appearing in the media”.

    Checks under the league’s owners’ and directors’ test have been going on for more than six weeks.

    In a statement to BBC Sport, Cengiz said: “I’m cautiously optimistic the Premier League will make the right decision.

    “I’m sure that if the Premier League follows its own rules and charter, especially the owners’ and directors’ test, it will block the sale of Newcastle United to Mohamed bin Salman and the Public Investment Fund he chairs.

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    “Until Bin Salman is held accountable for his role in Jamal’s brutal murder, everyone must refrain from doing any business with him.”

    In addition to concerns about Saudi Arabia’s human rights record, broadcast piracy claims have also been raised in the media.

    Broadcaster beoutQ has been illegally showing matches – mainly in Saudi Arabia – despite the rights in the region belonging to Qatar-based beIN Sports. Saudi broadcaster Arabsat has always denied that beoutQ uses its frequencies to show games illegally.

    Dixon, on behalf of Cengiz, has previously written to Masters saying there should be no place in English football for anyone “involved in such abhorrent acts”.

    Cengiz has also written an open letter to Newcastle fans urging them to “unite to protect” the club from the proposed takeover, for which the PIF is set to provide 80% of funds.

    The Newcastle United Supporters’ Trust (NUST) has been sympathetic to Cengiz’s story and says it understands concerns about Saudi Arabia’s human rights record. However, it says it has no influence on who takes over the club.

    Last month, a NUST poll of 3,410 members found 96.7% were in favour of the new consortium to replace owner Mike Ashley, who has been in charge of Newcastle for 13 years.

    Source

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