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Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, FIFA president Gianni Infantino and Russian President Vladimir Putin watch the ceremony prior to the 2018 World Cup Group in Russia. Photo: ALEXEY DRUZHININ/AFP via Getty Images

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is now the new de facto owner of Newcastle United Football Club.

Driving the news: Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund completed the deal Thursday after an 18-month delay.

  • One roadblock was the fact that, during the recent dispute with Qatar, Saudi Arabia had been blocking the Qatari-owned broadcaster with rights to the English Premier League and pirating the games instead on state TV.
  • With that resolved, the league also determined that the takeover would not put the Saudi state in control of the club — somewhat inexplicable, given MBS is the fund's chairman.
  • The Saudis bought the club from Mike Ashley, who was himself a controversial figure (for the club's persistent mediocrity during his tenure and the business practices of his sportswear company, not for the murder of any dissidents).

MBS is following other Gulf royals into the owner's box.

  • The 2008 purchase of Manchester City by a member of the Abu Dhabi royal family and 2011 takeover of Paris Saint-Germain by the Emir of Qatar propelled the two to the pinnacle of the sport and helped create a tier of ultra-rich teams that compete amongst themselves for the world's most expensive players (PSG recently signed Lionel Messi).
  • That's the club that Newcastle — a historic and long-suffering team from the north of England with a rabid fan base — is now joining.
  • If all goes to plan, they'll soon no longer be near the bottom of the standings competing with minnows like Norwich (owned by a TV chef), but up with their fellow petrodollar-powered powerhouses like league-leading Chelsea, owned by Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich.

Whether that's good for the league or not, time will tell.

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Oct 23, 2021 - Energy & Environment

Saudi Arabia vows net-zero emissions by 2060

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman attends the opening of the Saudi Green Initiative Forum, via video link, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on October 23, 2021. (Photo by Royal Court of Saudi Arabia/Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Saudi Arabia on Saturday pledged to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2060, deepened its 2030 targets and joined an international coalition seeking to cut emissions of the potent planet-warming gas methane by 30% in nine years.

Why it matters: The pledges from the world's largest oil exporter come just before COP26, a key United Nations summit opening Oct. 31 that is aimed at rallying worldwide actions to stem emissions that are currently on pace to bring global warming well beyond the Paris Agreement goals.

Biden rejects Trump's latest executive privilege claims

Photo: Jim Watson and Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The White House on Monday rejected two more of former President Trump's claims of executive privilege over documents that the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riot requested, CNN first reported.

Why it matters: Trump's legal team is seeking to block some of the panel's requests for records by invoking executive privilege, which can allow presidents and their aides to sidestep congressional scrutiny. The Biden administration has maintained that it will evaluate on a case-by-case basis.

Amazon warehouse workers in New York file petition to hold unionization vote

Amazon workers and their supporters rally outside the National Labor Relations Board's regional office in Brooklyn, New York City, after filing a petition requesting an election to form a union. Photo: Gabby Jones/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Amazon warehouse workers in New York City filed a petition on Monday with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to hold a vote on unionization.

Why it matters: The move comes six months after an organizing effort was defeated at Amazon's distribution center in Alabama.