A Saudi Arabian-backed consortium has withdrawn its £300 million bid to buy English Premier League side Newcastle United.
The group, which included Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund PIF, PCP Capital Partners and Reuben Brothers, had agreed to buy the club from Mike Ashley in April.
In a statement, the investor group said that the commercial agreement between it and the club’s owners had expired and its investment thesis could not be sustained.
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The consortium’s withdrawal could allow American entrepreneur Henry Mauriss to take over the club.
Mauriss has registered his interest in Newcastle and remains extremely keen for the acquisition to happen.
Meanwhile, human rights groups and the fiancee of murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Hatice Cengiz, had opposed the takeover.
Khashoggi, a critic of the authoritarian Saudi regime, was murdered by Saudi agents and his body was cut in pieces and thrown away in Turkey in 2018.
Peter Frankental, Amnesty International UK’s economic affairs programme director, claimed the bid had been an attempt by the Saudi Arabia government to “sports wash” their human rights record.