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3 Aug, 2020 19:42

'We would welcome talks': Billionaire backers of Saudi bid for Newcastle say deal could be revived as 64,000 fans sign petition

'We would welcome talks': Billionaire backers of Saudi bid for Newcastle say deal could be revived as 64,000 fans sign petition

Private finance backers of the Public Investment Fund's (PIF) flunked takeover of Newcastle are hopeful that the deal will be resurrected, calling on the plans to go ahead after a key figure in the deal spoke with fans.

Many of the club's supporters spoke of their devastation on Thursday when Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund pulled out of the deal after months of negotiations, held up by the Premier League's hesitation to ratify the deal as a row over sports piracy and the Saudi regime's human rights record escalated.

The billionaire siblings behind the Reuben Brothers firm, who own Newcastle Racecourse Arena and the surrounding park, have reiterated their commitment to being an "integral part of the deal", saying they were "very disappointed" to learn that the bid had been withdrawn.

"We were planning on creating one of the premier sporting hubs in the UK," said Martin Cruddace, the boss of the duo's Arena Racing Company, explaining that "vital" development work for the region would have been part of a successful takeover.

"We continue to hope that those exciting plans are not in vain. We would welcome any resurrection of talks and progress with the Premier League and...remain totally supportive of the deal should there be a way forward."

British financier Amanda Staveley was acting as a pivotal go-between in negotiations and has already made public her frustration and desperation at the apparent collapse of the bid, speaking with fans personally to update them on Sunday.

She blamed rival Premier League clubs for scuppering the move that would have made the Magpies one of the wealthiest clubs in the Premier League and said that the consortium had answered all of the league's demands in order for the purchase to be completed.

Fan Neil Harrison said that figures in Saudi Arabia had been deterred because they felt the group had little chance of passing the Premier League's tests for owners.

"If Saudi Arabia’s recent actions have hindered the process then the Premier League should release a statement saying so," he added, calling for more fans to join the 64,000 who have signed a petition demanding an independent review of the process applied by the league.

"Otherwise there’s no closure and the fans are left in limbo with what could be just another false dawn."

Legendary Newcastle striker Faustino Asprilla and former favorites Robbie Elliott and Rob Lee were among the high-profile names also encouraging supporters to back the petition.

Author and reporter Tariq Panja pointed out that the brothers' fortune of almost $21 billion made them wealthier than Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich.

"With their financial muscle, why would it be a Saudi-or-bust situation for them?" he asked.

"They would comfortably be the richest football team owners in the Premier League."

Others pointed out that their ownership of the club could be limited to a 10 percent stake because of their existing involvement in Championship side QPR.

Neither the Premier League nor the PIF offered an immediate response to the statement, while much-maligned current Newcastle owner Mike Ashley was said to have been seeking proof of funds and a non-refundable deposit from rival bidder American businessman Henry Mauriss.

Also on rt.com Rival US bid 'waiting in wings' to buy Newcastle if contentious Saudi takeover falls through