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 the Managing Editor at Soccerscene. He reports widely on football policy, industry matters and technology.

Optus Sport to stream Football Victoria’s Nike F.C. Cup Final

Nike F.C. Cup

Football Victoria have made the exciting announcement that Optus Sport will yet again stream the Nike F.C. Cup Final in 2022.

Optus Sport have been the home of the English Premier League in Australia since 2016, and are also home to LaLiga, the Women’s Super League, K-League, J-League and the EURO’s.

The Cup Final will be held on Sunday afternoon, when South Melbourne takes on Calder United at Valley Park Events Centre, Broadmeadows.

Football Victoria CEO Kimon Taliadoros applauded Optus Sport’s commitment and acknowledged their continued support of the local game in a statement released by Football Victoria.

“The appetite for women’s football is growing exponentially and we thank Optus Sport for their elevation of the Nike F.C. Cup again in 2022,” he said in a statement.

“We are thrilled that subscribers across the nation can experience the quality football that the two teams will deliver on Sunday.”

Match coverage starts at 3.30pm AEDT, with the final kicking off at 4pm this Sunday.

Coverage will also be provided for non-subscribers on NPL.TV and Football Victoria’s Facebook and YouTube.

Customers can watch Optus Sport on their favourite screens and devices via Fetch, Apple TV, Android TV compatible Smart TVs, LG Smart TVs, Apple Airplay, Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV, Xbox, compatible Samsung Smart TVs or desktop, or on-the-go via tablet, mobile, or laptop.

FC Bayern and Adobe partner to power the club’s digital transformation

Bayern and Adobe

FC Bayern, one of the world’s most historic and successful football clubs, have announced a multi-year partnership with Adobe to power the club’s digital transformation.

The agreement will bring new, personalised experiences to its millions of current and future global fans – both on and offline – while driving greater efficiency and more sustainable business practices through Adobe’s enterprise solutions.

With a rapidly growing global fanbase, FC Bayern is passionate about connecting fans to their favourite club in new ways. Adobe’s technology will provide FC Bayern the ability to better understand its fans to create more engaging and individualised sports experiences.

Adobe Experience Cloud, including Adobe’s customer data platform, will help FC Bayern create fan profiles to better understand how supporters engage with the brand and ensure they enjoy a more personal relationship with their favourite teams. This means the overall matchday experience will be enhanced for fans, giving supporters real-time notifications at their fingertips including merchandising discounts, video content and last-minute ticket availability.

With more digital experiences across platforms, channels and devices, FC Bayern fans will never miss a moment whether they are at the Arena, on the go or in the comfort of their home. For example, when a goal is scored fans will receive content on their preferred channel to celebrate the moment in real time, as well as post-match video commentary and highlights.

FC Bayern will also use Adobe Document Cloud, including Adobe Acrobat Sign, to digitise collaboration with fans, employees and partners. With Document Cloud, activities like signing up for memberships or executing player agreements will be quick and secure, while reducing environmental impact.

“Today’s FC Bayern fan is digitally savvy and craves new ways to get closer to our club and players, which is why we aim to create sustainable and lasting interactions that bring matchday excitement to our millions of passionate fans across the world,” FC Bayern CEO Oliver Kahn in a statement.

“We’re investing in a long-term digital strategy with Adobe’s breadth of enterprise applications at the core of our technology, to deepen how our fans engage with the club and to inspire the next generation of fans for years to come.

“FC Bayern has millions of fans around the world, and they are at the forefront of revolutionising fan experiences,” said Anil Chakravarthy, president of Digital Experience Business at Adobe. “With this partnership, FC Bayern will create more personalised experiences to enable fans to celebrate the passion and heart of the club wherever they may be.”

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