Premier League might be gaining another superpower as Saudi-backed Newcastle takeover is completed

The wait is finally over for Newcastle United fans. After 14 years, Mike Ashley is no longer the owner.

The Premier League announced in a statement on Thursday that a consortium backed by Saudi Arabia and fronted by British businesswoman Amanda Staveley has, at long last, bought out Ashley for £305 million (around $415 million).

Via The Athletic:

"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. The Premier League has now received legally binding assurances that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will not control Newcastle United Football Club.

"All parties are pleased to have concluded this process which gives certainty and clarity to Newcastle United Football Club and their fans."

The legal disputes mentioned in the statement are what caused this process to drag on for 18 months. Staveley's group had made a deal to purchase Newcastle, but the Premier League wouldn't give regulatory approval for the deal since there was a concern that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia could exert pressure and control over the club. According to The Athletic, Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund would have owned 80 percent of Newcastle.

When the Premier League failed to approve the sale, Staveley's group pulled out of the deal in July 2020. The group went to arbitration with Newcastle and Ashley, who wanted the sale to go through or to receive compensation for the loss of the deal. Both parties continued negotiating, leading to the settlement and sale of the club. The Public Investment Fund will still own 80 percent, Staveley will own 10 percent, and British businessmen David and Simon Reuben will own 10 percent.

Newcastle United fans celebrated en masse once the sale of the club was announced. (Photo by Owen Humphreys/PA Images via Getty Images)
Newcastle United fans celebrated en masse once the sale of the club was announced. (Photo by Owen Humphreys/PA Images via Getty Images)

What does this mean for Newcastle?

Maybe the more appropriate question is: "What does this mean for beleaguered Newcastle fans?" At the moment, the club has nowhere to go but up. Ashley's 2007 purchase of Newcastle, a former powerhouse, left the club in the hands of someone who quickly became disinterested in keeping the team competitive. Over 14 long years, the team suffered, and so did the fans.

Staveley released a statement on Thursday, reassuring fans that she and the rest of the consortium didn't buy the club to do nothing with it. They want to see it succeed and get back to the winning ways of the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Via The Athletic:

"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."

Just how excited are Newcastle fans to be rid of Ashley? Whatever you're thinking of right now, it doesn't come close to what the fans are feeling.

Staveley met some fans on Thursday after the deal was announced. While they weren't whooping and spilling booze everywhere, they were extremely pleased that she's purchased the club.

One fan said "This is the best thing to ever happen." No pressure, right?