Column: Did Saudi’s sovereign wealth fund just pick up the bargain of the year?

10 October 2021

Newscastle
Photo: Alamy Newcastle United FC fans celebrating the ownership change outside St. James Park.

PIF, Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, purchased Newcastle United for £300 million. While much attention has been focused on the body’s ties to Saudi Arabia and it's poor human rights record, the valuation of the deal has largely been overlooked.

Outgoing owner Mike Ashley is renowned for pushing hard bargains, but analysis shows that he possibly sold Newcastle as much as 15 per cent below its true value.

Valuation of football clubs continues to be an intriguing topic of discussion. The impact of COVID-19 has impacted football clubs valuation by up to 40 per cent and provided enticing opportunities for investors.

AKASH JP PUNJABI, CFA. FOOTBALL FINANCE ANALYST. SENIOR CONSULTANT AT KPMG AUSTRALIA contact@offthepitch.com

After what seemed like an epoch, Mike Ashley has finally gotten his way been and last week sold Newcastle United to a consortium mainly backed by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF).

The deal was estimated to be for £300 million. The deal has turned out to be one of the longest and popular sagas of the footballing world with allegations of involvement of the UK government as well as of Sportswashing – a practise to improve reputation by leveraging the power of sport.

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