Saudi fencing chief Ahmed Al-Sabban appointed vice-president of Asian Sports Confederation

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LONDON: Newcastle United supporters have welcomed the buyout of their club by a consortium backed by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF).

Following intense negotiations, the Kingdom’s sovereign wealth fund, alongside financial entrepreneur Amanda Staveley and billionaire investors the Reuben brothers, struck a £ 300million ($ 410million) deal with Mike Ashley, the former Premier League club owner.

The deal will put Newcastle on a par with some of Europe’s super-clubs, including Russia-owned Chelsea, Abu Dhabi-owned Manchester City, and Qatar-owned Paris Saint-Germain, who also benefit financial support from wealthy and committed landlords.

Fans have said the recovery is good news, not only for the football club but also for the city of Newcastle and the wider region of north-east England.

“We need it, we need it so badly,” said Justin Cowan, a retired warehouse worker from Newcastle. “The club, the city, we have been knocked down a lot of times, we are a sleeping giant and it was about time, it’s good for the club and for the region. Everybody is happy.

Paul Burchell agreed, adding that the financial support provided by PIF funding was long overdue for a club the size of Newcastle United, which have won the FA Cup six times and have been England champions four times, but not since 1927.

“I’m super excited, I think it’s a good shot,” he said. “I think it’s something we’ve needed for a long, long time at this club, it’s not going anywhere since Mike Ashley has owned the club so I think it can only be a good thing for Newcastle and the club. “

Club supporters are hopeful that the new owners’ consortium will be able to bring in a high-caliber coach and player to turn around their current fortunes in the Premier League, where they sit in 19th place.

“I would like to see them invest in the club and really improve the club, a manager who has experience, like a famous manager, a few good players to start”, Luke Watson, warehouse worker and 20 year old fan , said. “I mean, we’re not going to have the best players to start with, but just build the club.”

Avoiding relegation is the immediate priority for new owners, says Sophie Oldfield, a Newcastle fan and mortgage consultant.

“I hope they bring in a lot of money and good players and that they stay on their feet this season. It feels like relegation right now so hopefully things start to improve now, ”she said.


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