The fund which controls Newcastle United Football Club now own a majority stake in four Saudi Pro League clubs.
The move sees Saudi Arabia’s sports clubs investment and privitisation project, the Public Investment Fund, turn all the clubs into companies, with them now being owned by the sovereign wealth fund and non-profit foundations.
The PIF – which possesses an 80 per cent majority stake of Newcastle – now own 75 per cent of Al Ittihad, Al Ahli, Al Hilal and Cristiano Ronaldo’s Al Nassr.
A statement released by the PIF on Monday said: “As part of today’s announcement of the Sports Clubs Investment and Privatization Project, four Saudi clubs – Al Ittihad, Al Ahli, Al Nassr, and Al Hilal – have been transformed into companies, each of which is owned by PIF and non-profit foundations for each club.
“Existing members of each club will be included in the four foundations.
“PIF is working closely with [the Saudi Ministry of Sport] on all the necessary regulatory procedures to complete the clubs’ transfers to their new structures as newly founded companies alongside non-profit foundations.
“PIF’s ownership in the clubs’ companies represent 75 per cent in each club, while their respective non-profit foundations hold 25 per cent ownership of each club.
“The transfer of the four clubs will unleash various commercial opportunities, including investment, partnership and sponsorships across numerous sports.”
It’s understood the PIF’s latest project will not directly impact Newcastle.
However, having a direct connection to some of Saudi Arabia’s best clubs and, should Karim Benzema and Lionel Messi join them this summer, some of world football’s most iconic players of recent times, the move may be valuable for the club in the future.
Benzema has been linked with Al Ittihad following his departure from Real Madrid, whilst it’s also been reported soon-to-be free agent Messi could sign for Al Hilal for a world record fee.
Newcastle have already visited Saudi Arabia since being taken over by the PIF in 2021, playing Al Ittihad in January 2022 and Al Hilal in December 2022.
It remains to be seen if the North East outfit travel to the Middle East for a game before the 2023/24 season commences.
The PA news agency reports sources close to the fund that the move to take controlling stakes in the four Saudi clubs does not constitute the creation of a multi-club ownership model involving Newcastle.
Each club will be managed by an independent board and have separate executive management, the sources said.
Clubs in the Saudi top flight, who have technically been owned by the country’s Ministry of Sport until now, are being privatised as part of a government initiative to help the sport further develop.
FIFA has been approached for comment on the issue.