Today The Athletic published a second set of government emails regarding the October 2021 takeover of Newcastle United by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF).
The first set of emails, published in April this year, was from May 1 to July 30. It concerns the relationship between 2020. He revealed that he was concerned about the extent of the British government’s interest in the deal and the potential fallout of Saudi Arabia’s takeover of Newcastle United. Being an “immediate danger” to the UK’s relationship with the Gulf state.
For this report, we asked for communications between August 1 and October 31, 2021, which represents a few months before and a few months after his resignation was announced on October 7.
27 pages of newly discovered emails released by the Foreign Office following a Freedom of Information request by The Athletic shed new light on discussions between government departments and the Premier League.
According to recent emails released to The Athletic, the Premier League have agreed to “resolve their differences” with the PIF to “continue” ownership of Newcastle United in discussions with a senior UK Foreign Office official.
A UK government spokesman previously told The Athletic: “He had no role in taking over Newcastle United. Premier League chief executive Richard Masters previously said there was no pressure from the UK government over Saudi PFF’s acquisition of 80 per cent of Newcastle United in October 2021.
You can read the full investigation and see a selection of images of the emails by clicking this link. But for those of you who are short on time, some key statements include:
Chad Woodward, the British government’s director of trade and investment in Saudi Arabia, said the Premier League had spoken to another Foreign Office official nine days before the arrest of Neil Crompton, the UK ambassador to Saudi Arabia. They have agreed to settle differences with the PIF so that their investments in Newcastle can continue. In order to continue their investment in Newcastle, two meetings were held on the Microsoft teams with the Premier League in two weeks before the state was announced on October 6, the day before. The notice he took, an email to Woodward, was a Premier League official’s WhatsApp message to a Foreign Office staff member, which, although repeated verbatim in the email, was redacted so it could be said that the day before he took over, the Foreign Office had circulated “top lines”. ”, presumably the expected media coverage of the issue. Stock responses include: “How can the government allow a country responsible for the assassination of Jamal Khashoggi to take control of the Northeast’s most important cultural assets?” The Foreign Office note also said that while some critics may discuss the power’s “washing of sport,” the handover actually provides an opportunity to demonstrate the progress Saudi is making in promoting women’s participation in sports. The emails suggest that the Premier League’s demand for separation of control led to former PFF governor Yasir al-Rumayan, described by his own lawyers as the Saudi government’s “deputy minister”, remaining as Saudi government chairman. Appoint “someone” (presumably Staveley) to run the club
The Premier League declined to comment formally for this story but senior sources, who were not authorized to speak publicly on the matter, told The Athletic on Monday evening that the decision to allow the tenure to continue in October 2021 was made by the Premier League. The board is based on the legally binding confirmations received by the Premier League and not on any external influence.
They also said their relationship with UK government bodies showed the government was “predisposed” to be helpful but did not sway the decision, saying they had no recollection of discussing the PR offer.
The UK Foreign Office was approached for comment but did not respond at the time of publication.
(Top photo: Getty Images; Design: Eamonn Dalton)