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December 2020
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Who is suing whom over the Newcastle / Saudi affair? Answer: everyone

By Tony Attwood

A story which has appeared in the New York Times, and many other publications is saying that a trusted adviser to the owner of Manchester City is a key person in discussions relating to the take over of Newcastle United by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund.

Now Manchester City is involved as we know in a fundamental dispute with Uefa over how much power Uefa can exert over the finances of  the club.  Saudi Arabia is involved in the 2nd Arab Cold War against Qatar, by utilising the BeOutQ TV channels which seek to undermine Qatar’s BeIn channels.  Qatar owns PSG and opposes the sale of Newcastle to Saudi Arabia.

In short, the moving of the pieces on the political chessboard is more complex than we thought and there is a greater degree of fighting going on than we imagined.

Meanwhile it looks like the UK’s media has taken a decision not to mention that Qatar’s stadia being built for the world cup are being built by slave labour – which would horrify many of the players who have been taking the knee ahead of football matches in the restarted Premier League.  See for example  If all lives matter, if slavery is unacceptable, what is the FA doing about Qatar?

Meanwhile the New York Times is suggesting that Ali Jassim joined forces with the team working for Mohammed bin Salman in buying the club from Mike Ashley.

The involvement of such a variety of people in the deal shows just how far Saudi Arabia will go to push this matter through, and how little it has to do with football.  It has also, as we have already noted, highlighted how inadequate the “fit and proper person” rules are for PL ownership.

Also involved in the deal appears to be Carla Carla DiBello, a socialite good friend of Kim Kardashian West, who, according to the Wall Street Journal, has developed a detailed relationship with the Yasir al-Rumayyan, Governor of the sovereign wealth fund of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and the Chairman of Saudi Aramco.

Also involved is Amanda Staveley the former girl friend of Prince Andrew, who intends to take a 10% stake in Newcastle U.  According to reports (I am tempted to say “reportedly”) Staveley’s wealth is unclear, as her investment fund is said not to have detailed accounts (I can’t confirm that) while other reports have her currently suing Barclays for £1.6bn.

The case started in the High Court on 8 June 2020.  The website 24Hours News Order says, “She has accused Barclays’ bosses of misleading her, shareholders and the market when negotiating investment deals during the 2008 global financial crisis. Barclays says it will “vigorously” defend the allegations.”

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It is suggested by the aforementioned that “she was linked with Gulf-backed efforts to buy into Liverpool FC”.

Also involved (according to TheMag) is Ali Jassim who is acting as a broker as the Saudi fund. He worked on the takeover of Manchester City back in 2008 and is said by the NY Times to be a a key player’ in the Newcastle United takeover.  Jassim has also agreed to appear as a witness in the legal case (see above), according to TheMag

Jassim was also involved in Sheikh Mansour’s purchase of Manchester City, and this seems to give the PL a problem, because having given permission for Man City to be bought by this group, it would appear odd and open to challenge to refuse the purchase of another club from a related team.

It is however argued (once more by TheMag), that Staveley’s agency, PCP Capital Partners, was questioned by the regulators in the UK in 2009 over assertions that it was acting without the necessary approvals at the time of the Barclays bailout.

The argument now is that, “Any revelations that emerge may result in a brand new investigation, and additional scrutiny from the Premier League over her suitability to a Premier League shareholder. Staveley has stated in court documents that her agency had at all times acted inside the guidelines.

A ruling in the lawsuit just isn’t anticipated till October, by which period the Premier League is predicted to have decided on the Newcastle sale.   We shall see.

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