Newcastle cleared to loan players from PIF-owned Saudi clubs

Newcastle will be able to loan players from sides also controlled by their Saudi owners in January after a vote by Premier League clubs on a temporary ban on related-party loans did not receive the required support to be introduced.

Thirteen clubs voted in favour of the block on loan moves between teams under the same ownership.That was one short of the two-thirds majority needed for it to be passed.The Premier League was understood to be in favour of introducing the ban.It means Newcastle United, for instance, could sign players from clubs also owned by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF).Newcastle, whose £305m Saudi Arabian-backed takeover was completed in October 2021, have been linked with a move for former Wolves captain Ruben Neves from Saudi Pro League side Al-Hilal.

The ban was proposed as a temporary measure until a concrete solution could be agreed before the summer transfer window.It was only set to apply to incoming loans, not outgoing.PIF, which provided 80% of funds for the Newcastle takeover, took over four of the leading Saudi Arabian clubs in June – Al-Nassr, Al-Hilal, Al-Ahli and Al-Ittihad.

Asked in November whether he would consider signing players from PIF-controlled Saudi sides if allowed, Newcastle manager Eddie Howe said he was “open to signing anyone if they are good enough”.Other high-profile former Premier League players currently at PIF-owned clubs include Cristiano Ronaldo (Al-Nassr), Roberto Firmino (Al-Ahli), Sadio Mane (Al-Nassr) and Riyad Mahrez (Al-Ahli).But it is a potential January move for 26-year-old Neves – who joined Al-Hilal for £47m in June – which could help the Magpies fill the midfield gap created by Sandro Tonali’s 10-month ban for breaching betting rules.PIF, which is governed by Newcastle chairman Yasir Al-Rumayyan, has assets of £250bn – making Newcastle one of the richest clubs in the world.

Newcastle are not the only Premier League team part of a multi-club ownership model. Manchester City are one of 13 clubs – along with La Liga leaders Girona – under the control of the City Football Group.Crystal Palace are one of five clubs – including French club Lyon – owned by Eagle Football Holdings, while Chelsea’s owners BlueCo took a majority stake in Strasbourg in June.

The vote is a rare defeat for the Premier League, which was mindful of concerns among some of its members that loans between affiliated clubs could hand rivals an unfair advantage. But there were also suggestions any ban could face a legal challenge.League chiefs were also unable to get clubs to approve a £900m so-called ‘New Deal’ financial settlement with the English Football League, despite hopes a package could be announced. Insiders insisted there was “positive momentum” behind talks, but no vote took place after a continuing impasse over new cost control measures.

A report by the Culture, Media and Sport (CMS) Select Committee in June said if no funding plan is reached soon, the government should accelerate setting up an independent football regulator “to impose a deal”.

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