Newcastle United Deal Broker comes out of tries and insults

(Bloomberg) – Ever since a photo emerged of Amanda Staveley sitting in the stands at Newcastle United around four years ago, fans of the besieged squad have viewed the London financier as their potential savior.

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Staveley, who lives and dines with wealthy contacts at a private club in the capital’s upscale Mayfair, may seem an unlikely heroine for the club’s salty but passionate support base in the city in the north-east of England. .

Yet his fierce negotiation gave them what they wanted: Middle Eastern investors who are willing to divert some of their immense wealth to reverse the club’s constant decline.

Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund buyout of Newcastle is expected to be the biggest change in English football since Abu Dhabi’s acquisition of Manchester City in 2008, another deal involving Staveley.

The 48-year-old has now helped negotiate a takeover of a sleeping giant in the world’s most lucrative soccer league who looked dead in the water. Saudi Arabia banned Qatar’s BeIN, a major football broadcaster in the region, in 2017. BeIN went on to become a big opponent of any deal with Newcastle, until a recent breakthrough first reported by Bloomberg News. Staveley attempted mediation to end the dispute over the summer.

“I’m just persistent,” Staveley said in an interview. Although the recovery lasted four years, Staveley said she had not yet met any staff at the football club and had only called coach Steve Bruce for the first time on Thursday. “The deal was done entirely at a distance,” she said.

It’s a timely victory for Staveley after her consultancy firm PCP Capital Partners lost a nearly $ 1 billion legal fight in February with Barclays Plc, over claims she was underpaid in the part of a crisis financing agreement. During the acrimonious case, the court heard how Staveley had previously been described by various bankers as “big as s – t”, a “dolly bird” and “a pie”.

Today, Staveley has become one of the few prominent women in world football and one of an even smaller number who can afford to invest £ 30million ($ 41million) of their own money in a club. She also negotiated the buyout of Manchester City by Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan and then tried to mount a bid for Liverpool, according to documents seen by Bloomberg.

Daughter of a wealthy Yorkshire landowner, daughter of a private school, Staveley was born an hour’s drive from Newcastle. She left Cambridge University to open a restaurant called Stocks in Bottisham, near the horse riding town of Newmarket. It was here that she established her first contacts in the Middle East.

His long pursuit of Newcastle has involved difficult discussions with team owner Mike Ashley. After those negotiations failed, she returned with a consortium led by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund PIF, and initially struck a deal in April 2020.

Working-class billionaire and heavy drinker Ashley had the most typical profile of a football team owner, showing up to Newcastle games wearing a black and white football strip.

But its underinvestment over the past 14 years has made it deeply unpopular. Newcastle’s investment in infrastructure was the lowest of any Premier League club between 2011 and 2020, according to Kieran Maguire, senior lecturer in football finance at the University of Liverpool.

Newcastle United fans often point to leaks from the roofs of the 52,000-seat stadium, and the club are so far winless in the current campaign. Indeed, the team last won a national trophy in 1955.

The club need “a lot of investment,” Staveley told Bloomberg, promising the stimulus effort would not violate financial fair play rules that aim to limit the extravagant spending of most team owners. rich.

“The Premier League is a unique place, but what matters is how we build this club,” she added.

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