Mike Ashley has owned Newcastle United since 2007 but the club is on the verge of a takeover. Image Credit: Twitter / Newcastle United

Newcastle: A takeover of Newcastle United of the English Premier League by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund could be back on, with the kingdom said to be close to removing a major obstacle to the deal.

Saudi Arabia is close to formally lifting a ban on BeIn Media Group, according to a person familiar with the matter. A decision could come as soon as the coming weeks, allowing BeIn to begin selling subscriptions to its sports content in the kingdom, the person said, asking not to be identified discussing confidential information.

Talks are ongoing and could still fall apart, they said.

Major opponent

Any move to lift the ban would ease a possible takeover of Newcastle United by an investor group led by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund. BeIN has been a major opponent of such a deal, arguing to the U.K. Premier League clubs that the ban in Saudi Arabia and alleged piracy of its content in the region was doing massive damage to sports rights holders.

The PIF group, which also included English financier Amanda Staveley and the British billionaire brothers Simon and David Reuben, abandoned a proposed 300 million-pound ($407 million) takeover of Newcastle United in July 2020, blaming the decision on a prolonged approval process and the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. The consortium had been waiting for approval from the Premier League on their suitability as owners. BeIn would no longer object to a takeover if the ban in Saudi Arabia is lifted, the person said.