The Saudi Arabia-backed bid to takeover Newcastle United football club has been withdrawn this afternoon.
A consortium made up of the Gulf state’s Public Investment Fund, PCP Capital Partners and the Reuben brothers had reportedly made a £300m bid to businessman Mike Ashley for the Premier League team.
In a statement, the group said: “With a deep appreciation for the Newcastle community and the significance of its football club, we have come to the decision to withdraw our interest in acquiring Newcastle United Football Club.
“We do so with regret, as we were excited and fully committed to invest in the great city of Newcastle and believe we could have returned the club to the position of its history, tradition and fans’ merit.”
The group said that it had pulled out because the prolonged process had made the investment “no longer commercially viable”.
It added that because of the coronavirus pandemic, its commercial agreement with Newcastle’s owners had expired and its investment thesis “could not be sustained”.
The lack of clarity over “the circumstances under which the next season will start and the new norms that will arise for matches, training and other activities” was a particular problem, it added.
Premier League officials had been carrying out an investigation of the takeover as part of its “owners and directors” suitability test.
Earlier this week the BBC revealed that officials had been trying to clarify the links between the Public Investment Fund and the Saudi government.
The fund’s chairman is de facto Saudi leader Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.