UK blocks details of Newcastle United takeover assurances to protect Saudi relations
The UK government feel it could "harm" relations with Saudi Arabia
The UK government are refusing to release details of the assurances provided to the Premier League for the Saudi-backed takeover of Newcastle United in fear it could "harm" relations with Saudi Arabia.
Yesterday [Thursday 7 October] evening, the Premier League released a statement which said they had "legally binding assurances" from the Saudi Public Investment Fund [PIF] that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia would have no role in the running of Newcastle United, however they failed to reveal details of what that entailed.
The government itself says that it played no role in the deal, which has seen large-scale opposition from human rights activists such as Amnesty International, however, according to the BBC it is understood that the Foreign Office have in fact held meetings with the Premier League to discuss the situation.
Saudi Arabia is seen as a vital trade partner to the United Kingdom, who is second only to the USA when it comes to exporting arms to the Middle Eastern state, with a deal in place since 1985.
In a response from the Foreign Office back in March of this year, they stated: "The disclosure of information detailing our relationship with the Saudi government could potentially damage the bilateral relationship between the UK and Saudi Arabia.
"This would reduce the UK government's ability to protect and promote UK interests through its relations with Saudi Arabia which would not be in the public interest."
Thousands of Newcastle fans took to the streets around St James' Park yesterday evening once the news that the consortium, led by Amanda Staveley, completed a £300 million deal with Mike Ashley to see them take over with immediate effect.
Although Staveley and businessman Jamie Reuben have a 10% stake each in the club, it is PIF with the majority stake of 80% which is seen as a separate entity despite the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammed bin Salman acting as chair for the body.
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