Saudi prince talks up “benefits” of potential Liverpool FC takeover

Though a state-funded takeover of Liverpool has been doubted, Saudi sports minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal has talked up the “benefits.”

Prince Abdulaziz is a member of the ruling royal family of Saudi Arabia, and has been in his position as minister of sports since 2020.

The House of Saud is led by King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, whose son, Mohammed bin Salman, serves as chairman of the Public Investment Fund (PIF) which bought Newcastle last year.

With both Liverpool and Man United‘s American owners seeking investment into, and a potential sale of, their assets, there has been speculation over bids from gulf states.

That has been largely dismissed by journalists associated with Fenway Sports Group and Liverpool, but speaking to Sky News, Prince Abdulaziz admitted the state would “benefit” from any takeover.

“I don’t know, I hope so,” he said when asked if there was anyone in the Kingdom who would be interested in buying Liverpool or Man United.

“If there are investors and the numbers add up and it makes good business, then the private sector or companies could come in from the Kingdom.

“I know that the PIF own Newcastle, they have plans for Newcastle for the future, not just to develop the football team but also to develop the whole ecosystem within the club.

“But you know, we will benefit, sports in Saudi benefit, from these collaborations and these ownerships, because we do exchange programmes already with Newcastle and with our connections around the world.

“The Premier League is the best league in the world, everyone’s watching the Premier League, it’s the most-watched league in Saudi and I think in the region.

“There are die-hard fans of these teams in the Kingdom, so it would be a benefit for everyone I think.”

LONDON, ENGLAND - Saturday, May 14, 2022: Liverpool's captain Jordan Henderson lifts the trophy after the FA Cup Final between Chelsea FC and Liverpool FC at Wembley Stadium. The game ended in a goal-less draw, Liverpool won 6-5 on penalties. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

It was put to Prince Abdulaziz that United could be seen as a more worthwhile asset for Saudi investors than Liverpool due to their historic popularity around the world.

But he replied: “Liverpool, over the past couple of years, their performances have been really outstanding and I think they’ve increased their fanbase in the Kingdom.

“I think they both have big fanbases.”

Unsurprisingly, Prince Abdulaziz dismissed the moral issues regarding any further Saudi investment into the Premier League, insisting that the Newcastle takeover and subsequent sponsorships fell within the league’s regulations.

Newcastle fans takeover (PA Media)

And he took a philosophic stance when it came to any potential investment, using Newcastle‘s growth as an example.

“I wouldn’t want a company or someone to buy the team and then they fail in developing the team or putting in plan for the future and so on,” he continued.

“So it depends on the circumstance and what the outcome would be.

“We’ve seen a really strong success phase at Newcastle. They were about to be relegated, and when PIF came in the results got better, they are bringing the right people on board and we see that today they’re third in the league.

“And I hope they continue to strive for that. That’s created a lot of excitement in the Premier League, in Newcastle, but also for us in Saudi.”