The proposed takeover of Premier League club Newcastle United by a Saudi Arabian-backed consortium collapsed after the group announced on Thursday they were ending their interest in the deal.
The decision came after a lengthy scrutiny process from the Premier League, which faced pressure to block the deal due to concerns over alleged broadcast piracy in the Gulf state.
The investment group, which included Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund PIF, PCP Capital Partners and Reuben Brothers, made public a 305 million pounds bid to buy United from British businessman Mike Ashley on April 9.
That triggered the Premier League to carry out an examination of the proposed takeover as part of its “owners and directors test”, which evaluates the suitability of ownership groups and usually takes a matter of weeks.
The Premier League did not immediately respond to a request for comment but the consortium blamed the length of the evaluation for the decision to withdraw.
“Unfortunately, the prolonged process under the current circumstances coupled with global uncertainty has rendered the potential investment no longer commercially viable,” they said.
The league’s CEO Richard Masters suggested last month that the proposed takeover had become complicated but did not specify why, citing the confidential nature of the process.
The consortium’s nearly three-month long wait was accompanied by intense lobbying against the takeover with human rights groups raising objections.
But one of the key issues raised by critics of the proposed deal was Saudi Arabia’s response to cases of unauthorised broadcasting of Premier League games in the country — part of a long-running dispute between the kingdom and neighbouring Qatar.