Boris Johnson urges ‘clarity’ on Saudi bid for Newcastle FC

Inside the Sports Direct Arena (St. James Park Stadium), the home of Newcastle Unite Football Club. (Shutterstock)
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Updated 09 August 2020

Boris Johnson urges ‘clarity’ on Saudi bid for Newcastle FC

  • The consortium, led by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, pulled out last month

DUBAI: Pressure is growing on English football authorities to explain why they have not approved a £300 million ($390 million) takeover of Newcastle United football club by a Saudi-led consortium.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he would like to see a statement from the Premier League on its failure to reach a decision on the deal, agreed upon in April.

“There must be clarity on why there was a significant delay in a decision being made, and on the reasons why the consortium de- cided to withdraw their bid,” John- son wrote in response to fans.

“I appreciate that many Newcastle fans were hoping this takeover would go ahead and can understand their sense of disappointment.”

The consortium, led by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, pulled out last month because of what it called an “unforeseeablylong process” in obtaining approval.

But that has not dimmed enthusiasm in the northeast of England for the deal, which came with the prospect of hundreds of millions of pounds of investment in the club and the community. An online petition organized by Newcastlefans has attracted nearly 100,000 signatures, and 15 MPs have written to the Premier League chief executive Richard Masters express- ing their dismay.

Despite the formal withdrawal of the bid, the consortium members are keen to table the offer again if the logjam can be cleared.

The multibillionaire Reuben brothers, who already have sports business interests in the English northeast and who would own 10 per cent of Newcastle as part of the consortium, said last week they were “totally committed” to the deal and asked the Premier League to think again.

Amanda Staveley, the British financier who brokered the deal and

who would also take 10 per cent, said she was “humbled” by the fans’ continuing support for the takeover.

“Speaking on behalf of myself and my family, the Reuben family and the PIF, we are not just overwhelmed by the support, we are humbled by it.”

 


Team UAE rider Pogacar claims maiden Tour de France title

Updated 21 September 2020

Team UAE rider Pogacar claims maiden Tour de France title

  • Tadej Pogacar youngest man to win the race since Henri Cornet in 1904
  • Pogacar also won three stages in one of the most brilliant individual performances in recent Tour history

PARIS: Tadej Pogacar became the first Slovenian to win the Tour de France after he retained the yellow jersey in the 21st stage on Sunday, a day after he pulled off a major coup to take the overall lead.
While Sam Bennett won the final stage, the day belonged to Team UAE Emirates rider Pogacar, who will celebrate his 22nd birthday on Monday and is the youngest man to win the race since Henri Cornet in 1904.
Pogacar, who claimed the yellow jersey from a stunned Primoz Roglic with a monumental performance in Saturday’s time trial, also won the white jersey for the best Under-25 rider and the polka dot jersey for the mountains classification.
Roglic ended up second, 59 seconds behind, with Australian Richie Porte taking third place, 3:30 off the pace.
“This is an incredible feeling, standing here in Paris on the top of the podium. It was an amazing three weeks, an incredible journey,” said Pogacar after the first one-two for one country since Bradley Wiggins finished ahead of fellow Briton Chris Froome in 2012.
“I want to thank all those who made it happen. It was three memorable weeks on the French roads, with incredible crowds. I won’t find the words to express my feelings.”
Pogacar also won three stages in one of the most brilliant individual performances in recent Tour history, leaving Roglic’s dominant Jumbo-Visma team wondering what went wrong.
“We didn’t see it coming,” said Roglic’s team mate and former Tour runner-up Tom Dumoulin.
Bennett became the first Irishman since Sean Kelly in 1989 to win the green jersey for the points classification, ahead of Peter Sagan who was looking to claim it for a record-extending eighth time.
Bennett was the strongest at the end of the 122-km ride from Mantes-la Jolie on Sunday, beating world champion Mads Pedersen, with Sagan coming home third.
Swiss Marc Hirschi, the former Under-23 world champion was voted the most aggressive on the race after notably taking a brilliant win in the longest stage of the 107th edition.
Ineos-Grenadiers had a Tour to forget as defending champion Egan Bernal dropped out of contention in the Jura stage to the Grand Colombier, pulling out a few days later with back pains.
They recovered some pride later on, however, as Michal Kwiatkowski, their unsung hero for five years, claimed an emotional stage win — although that was certainly not enough for a team who had won seven of the previous eight editions.
It was an anti-climatic finale on the Champs-Elysees as only 5,000 fans were allowed on the famous avenue as a precaution against the coronavirus.
France reported 13,498 new confirmed COVID-19 cases over the previous 24 hours on Saturday, setting another record in daily additional infections since the start of the epidemic.
Reaching the Champs-Elysees was, however, a relief for organizers, who had imposed strict sanitary rules to protect the race ‘bubble’.
The bubble did not burst as only four team staff members tested positive and were removed from the race, preventing a spread that could have stopped the Tour.
No rider tested positive.