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Newcastle takeover by Saudi fund ‘90% certain’

Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth Public Investment Fund (PIF) has been identified as a major partner in the latest takeover bid for top-tier English Premier League soccer club Newcastle United, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The fund, which is chaired by the kingdom’s Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, is reportedly backing a deal alongside Dubai-based British financier, Amanda Staveley; her husband, Mehrdad Ghodoussi; and British billionaire property investors, David and Simon Reuben.

British newspaper the Guardian has reported that the deal, which values the Premier League club at UK£340 million (AUD$656.8 million), is ‘90 per cent certain’ to happen. A shell company, PZ Newco, was registered by Staveley to facilitate a potential investment on 6th January. PZ refers to Project Zebra – the code name for the planned Newcastle takeover.

The Magpies’ current owner, retail tycoon Mike Ashley, could sign off on an agreement very much in the short-term, according to the Guardian. However, Ashley has reportedly been unhappy with the massive leak and could potentially put the takeover in jeopardy.

It is also reported that Staveley hopes to assume a ten per cent stake in the final agreement. The exact level of Saudi involvement is uncertain, with the Athletic reporting that the Reuben family represent 20 per cent of the consortium.

According to the Guardian, due diligence has been completed and advanced talks have been ongoing for months. Staveley, who has failed with bids for Newcastle before, reportedly approached the Saudis regarding investment and is seeking to be the face of the club post-takeover.

The involvement of the PIF, one of the world’s largest investment operations, is controversial due to Saudi Arabia’s poor human rights record, lack of women’s rights, violent media suppression and its association with Islamic fundamentalism.

If an agreement is struck, it is reported that UK£200 million (AUD$383.6 million) has been allocated for investment in Newcastle’s playing squad and regeneration of the city.

If this big-money agreement goes through, it will give a significant boost to a club that has fallen in recent times compared to its former glory. The club currently sits 14th on the EPL table after 24 matches played, just seven points clear of the relegation places.

Liam Watson is a Senior Journalist with Soccerscene. He reports widely on international football policy, industry matters and industry 4.0

Sydney FC members to pick and choose membership packs in 2021/22

Sydney FC has introduced an Aussie-first membership platform, with members to gain more control over the customisation of their membership packs.

Sydney FC has introduced an Australian-first membership platform, with members to gain more control over the customisation of their membership packs.

The club and its membership products provider, TPF Sports, will greatly increase member satisfaction and reduce environmental impact. Sydney FC members who sign up for the 2021/22 season will have credits put onto their accounts, allowing them to choose from a variety of Membership card designs and, depending on their package, a variety of personalised items.

Each merchandising item may be customised with different colours and names, allowing for unique bundles based on age, gender, product choice, artwork style, personalisation, years of tender, and a variety of other factors.

Sydney FC Chief Executive Officer Danny Townsend hailed the announcement as a big step forward for how the club engages with its members.

“Our new eMber+ platform is a huge step forward and once again Sydney FC is proud to be leading the way in Member engagement,” he said via a club statement,” he said.

“Gone are the days of receiving the same standard Membership pack as everyone else.

“Now you can tailor your package to suit your preferences and how you wish to support the Sky Blues.

“There’s a fantastic range of customisable merchandise available and I know I’m looking forward to my delivery in the coming weeks.”

TPF Sports Director Craig Dyer explains the move is a worldwide first and one of the benefits of the move would be the reduced environmental impact of membership packs, thanks largely in part to the fact that members will only receive merchandise they actually want.

“There are iterations of loyalty and rewards platforms globally,” he said.

“But to the best of our knowledge from 18 to 20 months of development and research, we believe this is the first-ever platform of its kind and certainly the first for sport and membership-based programs.

“Our vision in developing the platform is to revolutionise the long-standing pre-determined assignment of resources to Members by assigning credit. This allows them to redeem merchandise and entitlements they deem relevant to them.

“This platform also has a strong environmental slant, as we are only supplying merchandise and delivering this merchandise to Members who want to redeem it.

“Additionally, almost every product is on-demand, meaning we receive Members’ selection based on products and artwork, print them with selected artwork and personalisation, pick, pack and fulfil directly to the Members door.”

Football NSW grants webinar to aid clubs and associations

FNSW

Football NSW in conjunction with ‘The Grants Guy’ are set to premiere a free Grants Zoom online webinar next Wednesday (September 22) at 6:30pm – 7:30pm.

FNSW clubs and associations will be provided with valuable information through the grants webinar, especially for applying for funding which have assisted many teams in the past in their pursuit of seeking facility upgrades amongst various other beneficial elements.

The webinar will provide a practical guide to grant writing for any football club seeking to attain funding by applying for the Greater Cities Sport Facility Fund and the Regional Sport Facility Fund in particular.

Both grants will be explained through the practical step by step webinar, and guidance will be provided as to how to apply for the Grants.

The following topics will be discussed:

  • How to apply for the grant – the do’s and don’ts
  • Eligibility & Answering the Question
  • Project Assessment, Evaluation, Rationale, Methodology
  • Budget & Acquittal
  • Getting Grant Ready and Planning your Club’s Application

For the Greater Cities and Regional Sport Facility Fund, the second and final round of the $100 million grant is available, with grants of up to $1 million offered to sport and recreation organisations and councils.

In Round 2, up to $46 million is available for projects that improve sports facilities and recreational spaces and enable more people to participate in sport and active recreation.

Grants from $100,000 up to $1 million are available for a range of projects including lighting, amenity buildings, clubrooms, change rooms and grandstands.

Round 1 resulted in $54 million awarded for 91 projects, with over $10 million awarded to football projects.

Round 2 is the final round of the program with applications closing at 12pm, on October 8, 2021.

Register for the webinar today by clicking here.

For any further questions please contact Football NSW’s Government Relation, Infrastructure and Funding Manager Daniel Ristic via email on danielr@footballfacilities.com.au.

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