Newcastle's new money man: Meet Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman

Newcastle’s new money man: Saudi Arabia crown prince Mohammed bin Salman has £2.4bn in the bank with a £400m super-yacht and a £240m French chateau… backed by royal family worth over £1.3TRILLION he’s close to being Premier League’s newest megarich owner

  • Newcastle are in discussions with Amanda Staveley over the sale of the club
  • Mike Ashley’s 13-year reign as Newcastle owner may soon be coming to an end
  • Staveley is spearheading a takeover backed by Mohamed Bin Salman
  • Saudi crown prince has previously been linked with £4bn Man United takeover
  • Read: £300m Newcastle takeover now in the hands of the Premier League

Mike Ashley’s 13-year ownership of Newcastle is nearing the end. His £300m sale of the club is now in the hands of the Premier League, and he is ‘closer than ever’ to getting his wish.

Amanda Staveley is fronting the consortium which is backed by Saudi Arabian crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, who would at a swipe become the richest Premier League owners by some distance.

He is the sixth of 25 sons to the Saudi king, Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, but has manoeuvred his way into being the heir to the throne of a royal family which has a combined wealth of £1.3trillion.

Mohammed bin Salman is close to becoming the new owner of Newcastle United

Mike Ashley is finally close to sealing a £300m sale of the north east Premier League club

A consortium fronted by Amanda Staveley (centre) is in advanced talks with Ashley

Newcastle are 13th in the table and fans have been unhappy at the club’s direction

When King Salman ascended to the throne in 2015, his son was given oversight of the kingdom’s most important portfolios, including defence, economy, religion and oil.

He has since shoved aside his older brothers to become the next in line. While his father remains head of state, the crown prince is the true hands-on ruler and overseer of the kingdom. 

But his interest in Newcastle is not without controversy. Amnesty International have previously said that Saudi Arabia acquiring a Premier League football club is simply a case of ‘sports-washing’.

The kingdom stands accused of vast human rights abuses. Torture as punishment, executions, no free speech and gender and racial discrimination have been listed among its violations by Amnesty International.

Bin Salman has been accused of being the architect of the war in Yemen by TIME magazine, which saw indiscriminate bombing. 

The crisis that has engulfed Yemen since, including a blockade which led to widespread famine, is ‘the worst man-made humanitarian crisis of our time,’ according to the United Nations. 

Saudi crown prince bin Salman with US president Donald Trump at the G20 leaders summit

Bin Salman meets with Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace in March 2018

Bin Salman is, according to The Economist, the de-facto ruler, the man who wields the power of the throne behind his father. 

PREMIER LEAGUE’S RICHEST OWNERS 

Newcastle – Mohammed bin Salman (Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund) – £260bn

Manchester City – Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan (Abu Dhabi United Group) £17.7bn

Chelsea – Roman Abramovich – £9.2bn

Arsenal – Stan Kroenke – £8bn

Wolves – Guo Guangchang (Fosun International) – £5.4bn

Aston Villa – Nassef Sawiris – £4.6bn

Manchester United – Glazer family – £3.8bn

Tottenham – Joe Lewis – £3.7bn

Crystal Palace – Joshua Harris – £3.3bn

Leicester – Srivaddhanaprabha family – £2.9bn

At just 34 years old, the crown prince is estimated to have a personal wealth of £2.4billion and hasn’t shied away from flaunting it in recent years.

He has spent his fortune on grandiose side projects – a £400m yacht, a £240m French chateau and even £360m on a Leonardo da Vinci painting. 

His 439ft 4in super-yacht, called Serene, was the ninth-largest in the world when it was built for vodka tycoon Yuri Shefler for £200million in 2011.

Bin Salman bought the boat, which houses 24 guests and 52 crew and comes with seven decks, two helipads and a full saltwater swimming pool, in 2015. Microsoft supremo Bill Gates once rented it for a week at a cost of £4million. 

The Chateau Louis XIV, west of Paris, was also purchased by Bin Salman in 2015, which was hailed in magazines as ‘the world’s most expensive home’.

Despite its appearance as a classic 17th-century chateau of the French royal family, similar in style to the nearby palace at Versailles, it was actually constructed between 2008 and 2011.

It was built after developer Emad Khashoggi demolished a 19th-Century building that had previously stood on the 57-acre site.

Bin Salman has a personal wealth of £2.4bn and has splurged £400m on a super-yacht

The Saudi crown prince also owns a French chateau called Chateau Louis XIV, west of Paris

Bin Salman purchased the French chateau with a plot of 57 acres in 2015 at a cost of £240m

The 10-bedroom mansion boasts a cinema, deluxe swimming pool, immaculate gardens and a maze, and a glass-bottomed moat to watch koi carp.

Its fountains can be controlled by a tablet or mobile and a statue of Louis XIV made of marble stands watch over the plot. 

In November 2017 he spent a world record £360m at an auction for Leonardo da Vinci’s painting Salvator Mundi. 

The Saudi crown prince has been desperate to add a football club to his growing portfolio for some time. He has been extensively linked with a £4bn takeover of Manchester United in recent years and has overseen a sporting and entertainment revolution in the Arabian Peninsula.

He funded Anthony Joshua’s rematch against Andy Ruiz Jr, which took place in capital city Riyadh last December.

His move into Premier League ownership is the next step in growing this empire.  

Help has come in the form of the consortium fronted by Staveley. 

British brothers Simon and David Reuben – billionaire property developers with North-East links – are said to be taking a 10 per cent stake (like Staveley) and, crucially, the remaining 80 per cent will be made up by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), which is said to control assets worth £260billion.

At an auction in November 2017, bin Salman bought Leonardo da Vinci’s ‘Salvator Mundi’

Staveley has been close to purchasing Newcastle in the past, but the commitment of the Saudi crown prince has made this fresh takeover attempt possible.

And allied with the wealth of PIF, is the might of the House of Saud, the ruling family of Saudi Arabia since 1744.

There are some 15,000 people in the family, though the majority of the power and the wealth residing with around 2,000 of them.

It is speculated by many political commentators that their reported combined wealth of £1.3trillion is itself a huge under-estimate. 

Bin Salman has helped to usher in a cultural awakening in Saudi Arabia. Saudi women are now allowed to drive, travel abroad, register to marry or divorce and apply for official documents without the consent of a male guardian.

Women were allowed to attend football matches for the first time in the country’s history when it hosted the Spanish Super Cup in January.

But these attempts at modernisation and reform have been branded ‘purely cosmetic’ by Al Jazeera.

The family have been linked with several human rights abuses and there was international outcry when dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi was assassinated in Turkey in 2018.

Bin Salman takes in the heavyweight bout between Anthony Joshua and Andy Ruiz Jr in Riyadh

Human Rights Watch director Sarah Leah Whitson has described the Saudi regime as ‘despotism’.

In April last year, Saudi Arabia carried out a mass execution of 37 imprisoned civilians who had been convicted – 21 of those on the basis of confessions obtained under coercion and torture – of terrorism.

They were executed by beheading, with two of the bodies left on public display.

In 2018 and again in April last year, there were waves of arrests for women’s rights activists, six of whom were tortured. 

The crackdown on critics of the crown prince was described in June 2018 by a United Nations special rapporteur as taking place ‘on a wide scale across’ Saudi Arabia.

When it comes to seeing the back of the despised Ashley, for Newcastle fans it may prove a case of out of the frying pan and into the fire. 




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