Long-running talks over the £300 million Newcastle United ownership takeover have finally been secured.
A Saudi Arabian-led consortium, financed by the Public Investment Fund (PIF) will take control of 80 percent of the Tyneside club, ending Mike Ashley’s 14-year reign in charge.
The majority stakeholder comprises of PCP Capital Partners and RB Sports & Media. Amanda Staveley, who is the chief executive of PCP, has already stated her ambition in turning Newcastle into a Premier League-winning side.
With a massive windfall of cash promised to revamp the Tyneside club – including new players and a likely change of manager – Newcastle’s future in the Premier League is extremely bright.
Staveley has also discussed the ambition for its women’s teams, stating in a recent press conference that the club is “wholeheartedly committed to women’s and girls football.”
We are wholeheartedly committed to women’s and girls football. The foundation currently supports Newcastle women’s team and we are committed to helping the women’s team develop and grow.
Newcastle Women currently play in the FA Women’s National League Division One North, the fourth division in the English football pyramid.
With a new era embarking on the Tyne, can we really expect Newcastle Women to receive never-before-seen funding and support?
The Saudi takeover had been in talks for more than a year before Ashley finally signed over the club from his controversial grip.
PIF has a lot of ambition, and indeed cash, to throw at its latest project. Professionals and fans alike are already feeling excited about what changes will be implemented now everything has been finalised.
If there’s disposable funding ready to be used right away, Staveley’s mission statement surrounding the women’s team could come to life sooner than expected.
“I’m a girl, I’m a bit of a tomboy, I wanted to play football as a kid. I want to see investment going into the academy, at the lower levels, and I want to see lots of investment into women’s football,” the PCP chief executive told ITV Tyne Tees news.
“So we’re going to invest into the infrastructure of the actual club. That’s why we’re working with Jamie Rueben on how we can work around the club itself.”
Human rights record
On the surface, this takeover doesn’t indicate much cause for celebration when it comes to Newcastle Women, given the owners’ ties to an appalling human rights regime.
Women in Saudi Arabia are largely treated like marionettes – forced to adhere to the full control of a male guardian and deprived of being able to travel, or even freely choose a martial partner. Up until 2018, women were even prohibited from driving.
Still to this day, Saudi women are subject to employment and healthcare discrimination. The tie of a guardianship revokes almost all of their free will and the transferring of a guardian is an extremely long and difficult legal process.
Staveley has commented on the criticism received by human rights campaigners and has stressed the comments are being taken “very seriously.” She also shut down any claims of the takeover being a case of sports-washing – the practice of a body attempting to improve its image through sport.
“Our partner is not the Saudi state, our partner is PIF and we look forward to working with them,” Staveley told the BBC.
But Saudi Arabia have used sports-washing on a number of occasions to paint over their dreadful lack of women’s rights in the state.
At the beginning of October, it was announced two international women’s golf tournaments would be held at the King Abdullah Economic City with a total prize pool of $2 million (£1.4m).
“This is the PIF’s investment into a fantastic football club and we look forward to growing that club and developing it over the longer term.”