Newcastle United are free to pursue a January deal for former Wolves midfielder Ruben Neves and other Saudi Pro League stars after a Premier League vote narrowly defeated a ban on incoming loans from affiliated clubs.
The vote, cast at a meeting of the 20 top-flight teams on Tuesday, ended 13-7 in favour of introducing the rule but did not get the 14-club majority needed to carry the proposal.
It would have prevented Newcastle from moving for Neves in the winter transfer window as his club, Al Hilal, are also majority owned by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund.
Instead they will be able to pursue the Portugal international, who could act as cover for Sandro Tonali following the summer signing’s 10-month ban for betting offences.
The rule was designed to be a temporary measure in lieu of wider-ranging regulatory change in the Premier League around the controversial issue of multi-club ownership.
Manchester City, Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal and West Ham United are also among 11 clubs in the division who share investors with clubs elsewhere.
Manchester United are expected to add to that number when British billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s purchase of a 25 per cent share is concluded in the coming days.
But while most Premier League clubs in multi-club ownership tend to be nearer the top of the sport’s food chain than their sister outfits and therefore more likely to send players the other way, Newcastle are a unique case.
Al Hilal are one of four clubs in the Saudi Pro League who were majority acquired by PIF in the summer among an unprecedented push to bring top European-based talent to the country.
Cristiano Ronaldo set the ball rolling when he joined Al Nassr upon leaving Manchester United last winter and was followed in the close season by Neymar, Sadio Mane, Karim Benzema, N’Golo Kante and dozens more.
The four PIF-owned teams own the biggest names, meaning they are no longer off limits for a temporary move to Newcastle, in theory.