Gary Lineker names ‘dilemma’ Newcastle fans face as Saudi takeover announcement imminent

Newcastle United: What will the takeover mean?

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Gary Lineker believes Newcastle United fans face a ‘dilemma’ as a deal for the club to be sold to a Saudi Arabian-backed consortium reportedly edges closer. The Premier League has apparently given its approval for the £300million-deal to go through, which could be sealed by today.

Current owner Mike Ashley had been looking set to sell Newcastle 18 months ago to a consortium which included the Saudi-backed Public Investment Fund (PIF), PCP Capital Partners and the Reuben brothers.

But the deal stalled after the Premier League had demanded to know who would have overall control of the club.

Potential owners of a top-flight team must pass the Premier League’s owners’ and directors’ test, which measures their suitability to control a club.

The Premier League wanted to know if PIF was owned by the Saudi state, with concerns that a deal would not be allowed if that were the case.

But the Premier League has now deemed the PIF to be separate to the Saudi state, despite Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman being the fund’s chair.

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With the deal for the takeover rumoured to be imminent, Channel 4 chief correspondent Alex Thomson took to social media to share his thoughts.

“As a lifelong Newcastle United supporter I feel sick this morning,” Thomson posted on Twitter.

“No time for Ashley but he doesn’t murder and dismember journalists or chop people’s heads off or treat women as third class humans on an industrial scale.

“What the hell has ‘football’ become?”

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Thomson was referring to Saudi Arabia’s humans rights record under Mohammed Bin Salman in his tweet, which Amnesty International has urged the Premier League to take into consideration before allowing Newcastle’s takeover.

Lineker then shared the tweet on his own Twitter page as he reflected on the developments in the north east.

The former England international wrote: “Football fans want their clubs to succeed, but at what price? The dilemma facing @NUFC supporters.”

The breakthrough in takeover talks came on Wednesday after Saudi Arabia agreed to stop showing Premier League matches illegally through beoutQ.

The country also revoked its four-and-a-half year ban on showing beIN Sports. The takeover is expected to please Newcastle fans after a Supporters’ Trust survey this week showed 93 per cent of its members in favour of the deal.

Newcastle were once battling for Premier League honours and almost won the top-flight title under Kevin Keegan in the 1995/96 season.

The Magpies led the table for much of the campaign but blew their big chance after winning just five of their final 13 games.

Since Ashley bought the club in 2007, Newcastle have failed to compete at the top end of the table. Ashley has refused to spend big money on new signings and the club suffered relegation to the Championship in 2009 and 2016.

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