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The British government would have paid to sell Newcastle to the Public Investment Fund

The British government would have paid for the sale Newcastle to me Public Investment Fund (Public Investment Fund) in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. This is confirmed by new documents from the Department for International Trade (which is responsible for negotiations on international trade in the UK) regarding Jerry Grimstone, then Minister of Investment.

In August 2020, Grimstone moved to confirm the then-President of the Premier League Gary Hoffman From his commitment to the acquisition strategy of the English club. The documents show that Grimstone has worked hard to try to secure the Saudi takeover of the company as a link between the Premier League and the government in search of a potential “solution”.

Evidence of Grimstone’s efforts contrasts further with the British government’s repeated insistence that there was no involvement in the acquisition. When the first rumors surfaced about it, a government spokesperson claimed that Grimstone was only performing his role for “Keeping up with the big investments that are likely to come to the UK“.

The documents released by the Department for International Trade consist of four memos that Grimstone sent to officials in August 2020, informing them of his contact with Hoffman. It is clear from these documents that the man was looking for a way to get the Premier League to agree to the sale, considering the stalemate in negotiations potentially “embarrassing” for relations between the UK and Saudi Arabia.

The main problem was the risk that the new Saudi monarchy would not get the green light from the Premier League, mainly due to the country’s state piracy of sports television rights bought by Qatari broadcasters (which also included Premier League matches). In this regard, Grimstone wrote in one of the letters that emerged from the documents: “We have discussed possible ways to solve this puzzle“.

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Reporting on a subsequent phone call with Hoffman on August 22, Grimston wrote:Gary said the Environmental Protection Act would like to find a solution and is very sensitive to the broader considerations surrounding all of this in terms of relations with Saudi Arabia. We agreed that any sale should not start over until a clear path was available, as any new “failure” would be very embarrassing.“.

Grimston wrote that Hoffman would have reached out to the Premier League’s lawyers.He will be asked to advise if there is a way forward and, if so, what obligations Saudi Arabia should make. The parties will then have a clear view of how difficult the obstacle is and whether they are willing to overcome it“.

We hope to help clarify a very confusing situation to allow the parties to reach the decision pointThe minister had closed in his estimation. Despite Grimstone’s efforts, the deal failed in 2020. In October 2021, the Premier League then announced that a way had been found to agree to the takeover, and the Public Investment Fund also introduced “Legally binding guarantees that Saudi Arabia will not directly control Newcastle“.

Earl Warner

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