The Premier League hit back at Newcastle United on Thursday after the football club claimed it blocked its £300m takeover by a consortium led by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund.
The response escalates the dispute over what led to the collapse of a takeover that would have resulted in Newcastle becoming the latest English club to attract a foreign owner.
In a statement, the Premier League said it was “incorrect” for Newcastle to say that it had rejected the takeover. It also said it was “disappointed and surprised” by the club’s statement.
Newcastle declined to comment on Thursday.
It comes a day after the club and its billionaire owner Mike Ashley accused the Premier League of failing to handle the takeover approval process “appropriately”.
The deal would have involved Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, which is controlled by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, buying the club. PIF’s consortium also included the billionaire Reuben brothers and British financier Amanda Staveley.
Any buyer of a Premier League club must pass the division’s so-called owners and directors test.
In July, the investors formally withdrew their interest in acquiring the club after delays in the approval process, which was hindered by the close ties between the PIF and the Saudi state. The kingdom’s de facto ruler is Prince Mohammed, who sits on the board of PIF.
While Richard Masters, the Premier League chief executive, said that PIF’s withdrawal was voluntary, Newcastle said the league had rejected the takeover bid.
The club said: “Newcastle United can confirm that the Premier League has rejected a takeover bid made by PCP Capital Partners, the Reuben brothers and the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia (PIF) based on its owners and directors test.”
But the Premier League said its board had repeatedly “given its opinion about which entities it believes would have control over the club should the consortium proceed with the acquisition.
“This means the potential takeover could proceed to the next stage should the relevant entities provide all appropriate information.”
The Premier League said that, since June, it had also suggested an independent arbitration process.
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