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Prem chief grilled by MPs on Newcastle takeover

PREMIER LEAGUE chief executive Richard Masters suggested yesterday that Newcastle United’s takeover could be completed shortly, but told MPs: “Sometimes things get complicated.”

The north-eastern club is the subject of a proposed £300 million takeover which would involve the Saudi public investment fund taking an 80 per cent stake.

Appearing before the Commons digital, culture, media and sport committee yesterday, Masters was asked about Saudi links to piracy and the suitability of Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman being connected to a top-flight club.

Labour MP Julie Elliott was among those also asking why fans have been kept in the dark for so long, given that the vetting process, which was supposed to take three weeks, is going into its fourth month.

Masters said: “I cannot comment in terms of timing or the specifics on any particular takeover.

“But in a perfect world takeovers would happen cleanly, clearly and in a timely fashion. Sometimes things get complicated.”

The deal is still subject to the league’s owners’ and directors’ test which is supposed to objectively assesses the suitability of would-be owners.

“What clubs want is consistency,” Masters said, “and if they can find the right owners for their football clubs they will be allowed through, and if they’re not the right people then they won’t.”

MPs also tackled other ethical concerns, with Masters being pushed to say that the league’s support of the Black Lives Matter movement “does not set any particular precedent.” 

When asked about whether the campaign would legitimately open the door to other forms of activism in the future, he warned that players and managers will still face punishment for making unapproved political gestures.

“We are drawing a clear distinction between a moral cause and a political movement or agenda.

“While there might be difficulties sometimes dividing the two, our position is clear: politics no, moral causes yes, when agreed. As I said, we’re living in special times at the moment.”

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