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Report: Newcastle United’s PIF owners in talks to buy KV Oostende

Second division Belgian club available for around UK£10m.

21 April 2023 Ed Dixon

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  • PIF looking to establish multi-club model
  • Newcastle owners talking to several other European teams

Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), the owner of English top-flight soccer club Newcastle United, is in talks to buy Belgian second-tier side KV Oostende, according to The Athletic.

A takeover of the club, who were relegated from the Belgian Pro League this season after a ten-year stint in the top division, could reportedly cost around UK£10 million (US$12.4 million).

A group from PIF, which acquired an 80 per cent stake in Newcastle in October 2021, are said to have watched KVO lose 4-0 at home to Leuven on 15th April. The Belgian club are currently owned by a group of investors including Pacific Media Group (PMG), which sold French outfit OGC Nice to Ineos founder Jim Ratcliffe in 2019.

PMG also has stakes in eight other teams, including English third-tier club Barnsley and the German second division’s Kaiserslautern.

The Athletic states that PMG is ‘very much open to offers’. PIF, though, could face competition from Fosun International, the owner of Premier League side Wolverhampton Wanderers, as well as another English club. Both are understood to have made preliminary inquiries.

Newcastle’s owner could also explore a deal for the Belgian Pro League’s Standard Liege. According to The Athletic, Saudi representatives watched the team on 14th March. Standard Liege were only bought by alternative investment firm 777 Partners in March 2022. The Athletic had previously reported that PIF had explored the idea of taking a stake in 777’s portfolio of clubs, which also include Genoa, Hertha Berlin, Vasco da Gama, and a minority stake in Sevilla.

PIF, though, is believed to be talking to several other European clubs as it pursues a multi-club model now commonplace in the game.

Uefa, European soccer’s governing body, has identified more than 180 clubs around the world to be part of a multi-club structure by the end of 2022 – nearly double the total from four years ago. The organisation had urged caution over the surge in multi-club investment, warning it could endanger the ‘integrity’ of its club competitions.

However, Uefa president Aleksander Ceferin admitted last month that a “rethink” of the current rules which prevent clubs with the same owners competing in the same European competition could happen.

“There is more and more interest for this multi-club ownership,” Ceferin said in an interview with Gary Neville’s The Overlap channel.

“We shouldn’t just say no for the investments for multi-club ownership, but we have to see what kind of rules we set in that case because the rules have to be strict.”

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