Newcastle United sold to Saudi wealth fund
If money talks, Newcastle United will soon be the loudest club in Europe.
Driving the news: The 129-year-old English club has been acquired by a consortium led by Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund (PIF) for $409 million, or roughly 0.09% of the fund's total value.
By the numbers: Newcastle's new owners are worth a whopping $435.8 billion, which is more than five times as much as the league's next nine richest owners are worth combined.
- Newcastle United: PIF ($435.8B)
- Manchester City: Sheikh Mansour ($31.2B)
- Chelsea: Roman Abramovich ($13.1B)
- Arsenal: Stan Kroenke ($8.7B)
- Aston Villa: Nassef Sawiris ($7.2B)
- Wolverhampton: Guo Guangchang ($6.1B)
- Tottenham: Joe Lewis ($4.9B)
- Manchester United: The Glazers ($4.8B)
- Crystal Palace: Joshua Harris ($4.6B)
- Leicester City: Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha ($4B)
What they're saying: This deal has long been protested by groups such as Amnesty International, which considers this a "clear attempt by the Saudi authorities to sportswash their appalling human rights record."
"It hasn't been a great run for [Newcastle], but an average 13th-place finish isn't exactly being sentenced to 50 lashes a week for 20 weeks like the dissident blogger Raif Badawi. But who cares about human rights when you might at last be signing a center forward?"— Jonathan Wilson, SI (subscription)
The other side: The Premier League says the sale only went through because it received "legally binding assurances" that the PIF is separate from the Saudi state, which will thus have no control over Newcastle.
The big picture: The Newcastle deal is the latest infusion of Gulf money into a European club, and the success of the others has Newcastle fans giddy at the thought of emerging from their own trophy-less desert.
- Manchester City: When Abu Dhabi's Sheikh Mansour bought the club in 2008, they had never won a league title. Since then, superstar-laden City have won five of them, while building a global brand.
- Paris Saint-Germain: When Qatar's Nasser Al-Khelaifi took control in 2011, PSG hadn't won a Ligue 1 title in nearly 20 years. They've since won seven, while signing the likes of Neymar and Lionel Messi.