Newcastle director says owner Ashley still 100% committed to Saudi deal

A deal to sell Newcastle United to a Saudi Arabia-led consortium could be resurrected, the club's managing director suggested on Friday.

The investor group, which includes Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund, British firm PCP Capital Partners, and billionaire property developers David and Simon Reuben, announced Thursday that it had abandoned negotiations to buy Newcastle, citing the Premier League's prolonged review process and global uncertainty caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

"We acknowledge the statement issued on Thursday. Never say never, but, to be clear, (current owner) Mike Ashley is 100% committed to this deal," director Lee Charney said in a statement obtained by BBC Sport's Alistair Magowan.

"However, our current focus must now be on supporting (manager) Steve Bruce in the transfer market and on the preparations for the new season."

An agreement was reached in April to sell the Magpies to the consortium for £300 million. Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund, led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, would've acquired an 80% stake in the club.

The bid drew widespread condemnation from the human rights community and the fiancee of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was brutally murdered by a Saudi squad in 2018. Officials linked Crown Prince Mohammed to the killing of Khashoggi.

It was also revealed that Saudi Arabia had been behind a pirate satellite TV and streaming service that was illegally broadcasting top-tier football matches, including Premier League fixtures.

Ashley is desperate to sell Newcastle after 13 years as owner, according to the Guardian's Louise Taylor. The club has been relegated twice under his watch, and many supporters believe he's failed to provide enough money to strengthen the squad.

U.S. businessman Henry Mauriss made a £350-million bid in June, but it was reportedly met with skepticism.

Newcastle director says owner Ashley still 100% committed to Saudi deal
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