Callum Wilson has completed his move to Newcastle United from Bournemouth in a reported £20million deal.

The 28-year-old striker, capped four times by England, has signed a four-year deal with the Magpies ahead of the new Premier League season.

Wilson spent six seasons with the Cherries and scored 67 goals in 187 appearances, but he was unable to prevent them from being relegated into the Championship at the end of the 2019-20 campaign.

Aston Villa were heavily linked with Wilson, who has previously been of interest to Chelsea too.

"From the minute I knew that Newcastle were interested, it was definitely something that appealed to me," he said in quotes published on Newcastle's website.

"It's a massive club with great history. Along the years, they've had great strikers so if I can emulate half of what they've done, I'd like to attempt that.

"I believe in my ability as a player. As a striker I think it's important to set yourself goals long term and short term, and I'm hoping to achieve them.

"With the players around me, I believe we can get the goals we need as team and I want to help contribute to that."

Newcastle broke their transfer record to bring Joelinton to the club in a £40m deal last year, though the Brazilian endured a disappointing debut campaign in the north east, scoring just twice in 38 Premier League games.

Manager Steve Bruce is delighted that Wilson has been added to his attacking options as his team look to improve on their 13th-placed finish last season.

"Callum is somebody I've admired for a long time and I'm delighted to get him," Bruce added.

"He has done fantastically well at Bournemouth and was deservedly playing centre forward for England less than two years ago.

"The club has worked ever so hard to get Callum here and we have beaten off competition from a number of clubs."

Former Burnley midfielder Jeff Hendrick has signed a four-year deal with Newcastle United.

The Magpies confirmed the arrival of the 28-year-old on Monday following his departure from Burnley at the end of his contract.

The Republic of Ireland international told NUFCTV: "I've had over 100 games in the Premier League but I want to keep going and keep improving with a different team.

"It's going to be different for me, the demands with the bigger stadium, the crowd, how big the club is, so I've got to take that on and keep pushing myself and striving to get better.

"I'm looking forward to it - I can't wait."

Head coach Steve Bruce said: "Jeff is someone I've admired for a long time. I watched him when he was at Derby [County], then he went to Burnley for a lot of money and couldn't afford him, so I missed out then!

"He's an experienced international footballer who can play all across the midfield so we welcome him aboard. He'll be a big asset to us, on and off the pitch.

"He's a great pro, down to earth, and at the age of 28 it's a wonderful time to get somebody. It is the peak of his career - he's a really fit boy who has played 122 times in the Premier League for Burnley over the last four years, and I'm sure he'll be a great addition to the squad."

Matty Longstaff revealed it was a "no-brainer" to sign a new contract with Newcastle United following a conversation with Steve Bruce.

Midfielder Longstaff is to remain at his boyhood club for a further two years, ending speculation over his future having signed a short-term extension to see out the closing months of the 2019-20 season.

The 20-year-old - younger brother of fellow Newcastle player Sean - made 15 appearances in all competitions during the campaign, scoring three goals.

He marked his Premier League debut in October 2019 with the winner against Manchester United, while he also scored in the reverse fixture at Old Trafford just over two months later.

"I'm delighted to have signed. It took a bit longer than I'd hoped but I'm really happy it's done now, and I can't wait to get back to playing at a full St James' Park hopefully soon," Longstaff said.

"I spoke to Steve Bruce and we talked through it and it was a no-brainer after I spoke to him.

"He gave me my chance and I'm really looking forward to working with him and his coaching staff, who were all great with me."

Newcastle boss Bruce is delighted to keep hold of a player whose club form led to a call-up to the England Under-19 squad.

"It's taken a while, but patience is a virtue and I've always said that I was quietly confident," Bruce said. "We never want to lose our good young players and it's an important time for Matty now.

"I do believe the speculation affected him, so let's hope we get to see the real Matty, the one who burst onto the scene before last Christmas, and let's see him come and perform to the level which we hope he can maintain."

Jeff Hendrick could add further competition for places in midfield - the Republic of Ireland international is reportedly close to signing for Newcastle on a free transfer after leaving Burnley.

Newcastle United have begun talks with a Singapore-backed company over a potential takeover.

The Bellagraph Nova Group (BNG), co-founded by Singapore-based investors Evangeline Shen, Nelson Loh and Terence Loh, said a letter of intent and proof of funds has already been provided.

BNG added it has reached out to club legend Alan Shearer and former player Michael Chopra to help with the bid.

The company's website says it made $12billion in revenues in 2019 and has 31 entities.

"Bellagraph Nova Group's founders (have) already provided a LOI (Letter of Intent) as well as a proof of funds on Aug. 10," a widely reported BNG statement read.

"In addition to the engagement to the Newcastle Football Club and community, Bellagraph Nova Group enlisted help of England captain Alan Shearer and former player Michael Chopra."

It is another development in an ongoing takeover saga at St James' Park, with a consortium led by Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund (PIF) pulling out of a bid to buy the club at the end of July.

A proposed £300million purchase, backed by the PIF, whose chairman is Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, failed to go through, with Premier League chief executive Richard Masters explaining the potential buyers declined an offer of arbitration over the ownership issue, which became a key obstacle.

Many Newcastle supporters had welcomed the attempted takeover, given the unpopularity of current owner Mike Ashley and the possibility of major new investment in the club potentially leading to a transfer spree.

Saudi Arabia's human rights record was cited by some opponents to the deal as a factor that should have precluded a takeover from happening, while representatives of the country were found by the World Trade Organization to have enabled the piracy of Premier League matches that were being broadcasted legally by beIN SPORTS.

With all eyes on Barcelona, Lionel Messi's future is again a talking point.

The Catalans capitulated in the Champions League on Friday, thrashed 8-2 by Bayern Munich in the quarter-finals in an embarrassing defeat.

Quique Setien appears set to be sacked as coach, while Messi's future has become unclear.

 

TOP STORY – MAN CITY TARGET MESSI AMID BARCELONA CHAOS

Manchester City think they are in pole position to sign Messi if he leaves Barcelona, according to the Mirror.

Messi, 33, is contracted to Barca until next year and is reportedly prepared to walk away from the club amid the chaos.

City have been linked with the record six-time Ballon d'Or winner previously, while Inter are another reportedly interested.

ROUND-UP

- Changes are expected at Barcelona. AS reports Messi will be free to decide his future in January, while it says Setien and technical secretary Eric Abidal are on their way out.

- The focus otherwise in Spain is on Setien's replacement at Barcelona. Mundo Deportivo reports Netherlands coach Ronald Koeman is a candidate to take over at Camp Nou with Mauricio Pochettino and Al Sadd boss Xavi losing steam. Marca says Pochettino and Koeman are favourites, while Sport reports the former Tottenham manager is the frontrunner. It says Koeman, Massimiliano Allegri, Thierry Henry and Garcia Pimienta are also candidates.

- Elsewhere, Chelsea's apparent search for a defender continues. The Sun reports they are closing in on a £40million move for Brighton and Hove Albion centre-back Lewis Dunk, who is also reportedly a target for Tottenham.

- Staying at Stamford Bridge and Chelsea are also linked with goalkeepers to replace Kepa Arrizabalaga. The Sun says Chelsea and Everton are targeting Watford's 37-year-old shot-stopper Ben Foster.

- After an impressive loan spell at Roma, Chris Smalling is attracting plenty of interest. Sky Sports reports Newcastle United are keen on the Manchester United defender.

The Premier League saw an offer of arbitration declined over the ownership issue that became a key obstacle before a takeover of Newcastle United collapsed.

Premier League chief executive Richard Masters has addressed the takeover bid for the first time in public, responding to a series of questions pitched to him by Chi Onwurah, the Labour MP for Newcastle Central.

A consortium led by the Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund (PIF) pulled out of a bid to buy the club at the end of July. It was a proposed £300million purchase, backed by the PIF, whose chairman is Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Many Newcastle supporters had welcomed the attempted takeover, given the unpopularity of current owner Mike Ashley and the possibility of major new investment in the club potentially leading to a transfer spree.

Saudi Arabia's human rights record was cited by some opponents to the deal as a factor that should have precluded a takeover from happening, while representatives of the country were found by the World Trade Organization to have enabled the piracy of Premier League matches that were being broadcasted legally by beIN SPORTS.

Amanda Staveley, the businesswoman at the centre of the bid negotiations, claimed the Premier League attempted to make the Saudi state a "director".

Masters, in his letter on Friday, did not explicitly say the Premier League felt the Saudi state would effectively become Newcastle's owners, but he explained "one entity" caused a disagreement, and said the consortium "chose not to take up" the arbitration offer.

He said "intellectual property infringements" featured among disqualifying factors in the Premier League's owners' and directors' test but stressed the Newcastle takeover had not reached the stage of such factors being put to the test.

Masters wrote: "In June, the Premier League board made a clear determination as to which entities it believed would have control over the club following the proposed acquisition, in accordance with the Premier League rules.

"Subsequently, the Premier League then asked each such person or entity to provide the Premier League with additional information, which would then have been used to consider the assessment of any possible disqualifying events.

"In this matter, the consortium disagreed with the Premier League's determination that one entity would fall within the criteria requiring the provision of this information.

"The Premier League recognised this dispute and offered the consortium the ability to have the matter determined by an independent arbitral tribunal if it wished to challenge the conclusion of the board.

"The consortium chose not to take up that offer, but nor did it procure the provision of the additional information. Later, it [or PIF specifically] voluntarily withdrew from the process.

"This meant there was never any point where the Premier League board was asked to make an assessment on the suitability of all members of the consortium."

Masters added: "The Premier League is reviewing its owners' and directors' test in the coming months to ensure it remains robust and fair to all interested stakeholders."

Amnesty International had claimed the takeover bid was an attempt by Saudi Arabia to "sportswash" its international reputation.

Reacting to Friday's letter from Masters, Onwurah said the Premier League response "provides some new info but not the reassurance or transparency I know fans want".

Ciro Immobile is ready to welcome David Silva to Lazio with open arms and revealed an approach from Newcastle United, who he claimed wanted to hire Massimiliano Allegri or Luciano Spalletti. 

Manchester City great Silva is to depart the Premier League club after a 10-year association upon the completion of their Champions League campaign, which continues with a quarter-final tie against Lyon on Saturday. 

Reports in Italy suggest the Spanish playmaker's move to Rome is practically done, with Lazio offering him a three-year contract to move to Serie A. 

Lazio striker Immobile is excited at the prospect of linking up with the 2010 World Cup winner.  

"He's a great player and has great experience, we are waiting for him with open arms," Immobile said in an extensive interview with Corriere dello Sport. 

"I can't wait for him to arrive, we are Lazio fans before Lazio players." 

Immobile is coming off a sublime individual campaign in which his 36 Serie A goals matched the competition record set by Gonzalo Higuain, who achieved the feat in the 2015-16 campaign. 

The Italy striker says he is now ready to finish his career at Lazio amid the possibility of a contract extension at the club. 

"I'm waiting for them to call me. I intend to tie myself to Lazio forever. What Lazio has given me and is giving me is priceless," Immobile added. 

"The renewal will be three years, so the contract will expire in 2025, when I turn 35." 

While Immobile has no plans to depart, he revealed there was interest in taking him to Newcastle amid a potential takeover at the Premier League club. 

The Magpies were the subject of a proposed £300million purchase, led by the Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund, but the bid was withdrawn due to what was described by the potential new owners as “an unforeseen prolonged process”. 

Immobile also stated Newcastle wanted to bring in an Italian coach, with ex-Juve boss Allegri among consideration. 

"During the period in which there was talk of the possible acquisition of Newcastle by a sheikh fund, they called my agent Alessandro Moggi," Immobile said.  

"Then the Premier did not pass the proposal, the fund was withdrawn. I know they were also looking for an Italian coach, Allegri or Spalletti."

Juventus' elimination from the Champions League spelled the end for Maurizio Sarri and the start of a new era under Andrea Pirlo.

Despite leading the Bianconeri to a ninth straight Scudetto in 2019-20, Sarri was fired after Juve crashed out of the Champions League at the last-16 stage to Lyon on Friday.

Pirlo was at the heart of Juve's brilliant midfield during the start of their Serie A dominance, winning four Scudetti, the Coppa Italia and the Supercoppa Italiana twice during a four-year stint that ended when he moved to New York City in 2015.

A week after returning to Juve as their Under-23 boss, Pirlo was handed the reins of the first team ahead of the 2020-21 campaign.

He is not the first club legend to go back and manage a team they played for, though, and we have taken a look at the biggest successes and failures.

HITS

Pep Guardiola

After leaving Barcelona as a player in 2001, Guardiola returned as the Barca B boss in 2007 before being promoted to head coach of the first team a year later. Over four years in charge at Camp Nou he led the Blaugrana to 14 trophies, including three LaLiga titles and two Champions League crowns. Success has continued to come Guardiola's way with Bayern Munich and Manchester City.

Zinedine Zidane

World Cup winner Zidane was part of Real Madrid's 'Galacticos' in the early 2000s and he finished his playing career at the Santiago Bernabeu. Like Guardiola, he returned to oversee the second team before stepping up to the top job after the departure of Rafael Benitez in January 2016. Zidane went on to win an unprecedented three successive Champions League titles with Madrid before stepping away in May 2018, only to return 10 months later. He has already won LaLiga and the Supercopa de Espana in his second stint.

Antonio Conte

In 13 seasons as a player for Juventus, Conte won almost everything there is to win – five league titles, the Coppa Italia, the Champions League and the UEFA Cup. He moved into management two years after retiring and worked his way back to Juve after spells with Arezzo, Bari, Atalanta and Siena. Juve won three straight Scudetti under Conte – the start of their ongoing dominance – before he accepted the Italy job in 2014. Pirlo will have to get the better of his former coach Conte, now at Inter, if he is to maintain the Bianconeri's run of titles.

Roberto Di Matteo

Di Matteo accepted the top job at Chelsea in 2012, having previously been assistant to Andre Villas-Boas. Di Matteo – who won the FA Cup twice with the Blues as a player – went on to lift two trophies as Chelsea boss, including their first Champions League title with a penalty shoot-out win over Bayern Munich, but he was discarded early in the following season.

MISSES

Alan Shearer

Record Premier League goalscorer, Newcastle United legend and lethal England striker – Shearer's playing career was full of success. When he retired in 2006, Shearer moved into television as a pundit, but when the Magpies came calling in 2009 he stepped in to try and save them from relegation. Sadly for Shearer he was unsuccessful, his eight-game reign ending in Newcastle slipping out of the top flight after a 1-0 defeat to Aston Villa on the final day.

Filippo Inzaghi

Employing former players as head coaches had previously worked well for Milan – Fabio Capello and Carlo Ancelotti proving particularly successful. When the Rossoneri turned to Inzaghi in 2014 after Clarence Seedorf's brief tenure, the move was therefore no surprise. However, the former striker – who won eight major trophies at the club in his playing days – flopped, winning just 14 of his 40 matches in charge as Milan finished 10th, their worst league position in 17 years.

Thierry Henry

Henry made his name at Monaco after breaking into the first team in 1994, the forward going on to become a world champion and a Premier League icon with Arsenal. After a period as youth coach with the Gunners, Henry was named as Belgium boss Roberto Martinez's assistant. Permanent roles with Bordeaux and Aston Villa were mooted, but in October 2018 Henry chose Monaco. He lasted just three months, losing 11 of his 20 matches in charge across all competitions before being replaced by Leonardo Jardim, the man he had succeeded.

Juan Jose Lopez

One of the most decorated players in River Plate history, having won seven league titles in an 11-year spell, Lopez was a popular appointment after making a strong impact in his second period as caretaker manager in 2010. However, he subsequently presided over a poor 2011 Clausura campaign, forcing River into a play-off against Belgrano, who won 3-1 on aggregate. It was the first time River dropped out of the top tier, sparking riots which left many people injured.

Romelu Lukaku matched a long-standing Alan Shearer record on Wednesday as he opened the scoring for Inter against Getafe.

Lukaku put Inter 1-0 up in their last-16 tie against the Spanish side in Germany with an exceptional finish in the 33rd minute.

The Belgian's strike made it eight successive Europa League appearances in which he had scored, with the 27-year-old having also netted in each leg of Inter's round-of-32 tie against Ludogorets.

He had previously appeared in the competition with Everton in 2014-15, scoring in matches against Dynamo Kiev, Young Boys and Wolfsburg.

Previously, only Premier League icon Shearer – back in 2004-05 with Newcastle United – had scored in his eight consecutive appearances in either the UEFA Cup or Europa League.

Lukaku has enjoyed a brilliant first season for Inter, scoring 23 Serie A goals as Antonio Conte's side finished second behind Juventus.

Danny Rose would love the opportunity to play in front of Tottenham's fans one more time and would happily see out the remainder of his contract in north London.

England left-back Rose spent the second half of the 2019-20 Premier League season on loan at Newcastle United after falling out of favour when Jose Mourinho replaced Mauricio Pochettino as head coach last November.

The 30-year-old told BBC Radio 5 Live he felt he "wasn't given as much of a chance as everybody else in the backline" by Mourinho.

Rose is contracted to Spurs until June 2021 and he told The Second Captains podcast he has not entirely given up hope of resurrecting his career at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

"I'm very happy to stay at Tottenham and see my last 10, 11 months out. I'd love to," he said.

"There's nothing more I want than to play one more time in front of the fans.

"My last game for Spurs was a 1-0 defeat to Liverpool and at the time I didn't know that could be my last game for Spurs.

"I want nothing more than to play in front of the Tottenham fans one more time and just to cherish all the moments I've had over the years with them."

Rose was extensively linked to Manchester United, among other clubs, around the time he questioned Tottenham's ambition during a 2017 interview with The Sun.

He continued to play a key role under Pochettino and was part of the England squad that reached the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup, and is grateful to Spurs fans for standing by him.

"They've always been good to me," Rose said. "I've possibly given them reasons over the past not to be so good to me, but they know that when it was game time I gave everything for them.

"I'll continue to do that for as long as I'm contracted to Tottenham. I'll say it again - I would love nothing more than to play one last time for Tottenham and just be able to say goodbye to them and thank them for everything they've done for me, as a person and as a player.

"Ultimately, as good as I was, I was because of the love that they gave me. I'm very relaxed, I'll just have to wait and see."

Rose scored on his Premier League debut against Arsenal in 2010 – setting up a 2-1 derby victory – and has made 210 appearances for Tottenham in all competitions.

England defender Danny Rose has detailed his experiences of being racially profiled, stating: "I just laugh because I know what's coming".

Rose, who concluded the 2019-20 Premier League season on loan at Newcastle United from Tottenham, has previously spoken out over receiving racist abuse on the football field – most notably when representing England at both Under-21 and senior level during matches against Serbia and Montenegro respectively.

Speaking to The Second Captains' podcast, the 30-year-old said the football authorities' attempts to deal with such incidents have been "laughable".

However, he also pointed out his negative experiences as a black Englishman are often rooted much closer to home, citing frequently being stopped by police while driving and a recent exchange in the first-class carriage of a train.

"My attitude towards it is it's happening again, and I have to get on with it. Someone's going to get a laughable fine and it's business as usual next week," he said.

"But it's not just football. I got stopped by the police last week, which is a regular occurrence whenever I go back to Doncaster, where I'm from.

"Each time it's, 'Is this car stolen? Where did you get this car? What are you doing here? Can you prove that you bought this car?'.

"That's been happening since I was 18, since I was driving. And you know, each time it happens, I just laugh because I know what's coming and it's just how it is.

"One of the last times I got on the train, I got on there with my bags and straight away the attendant says, 'Do you know this is first class?'.

"I say, 'Yeah, so what?' and they say, 'Oh well, let me see your ticket then'.

"So, I showed the lady my ticket and, this is no word of a lie, two white people walked on the train right after me and she said nothing.

"And I said, 'Well, are you not going to ask for their tickets?' and she said, 'Oh, well, no, I don't need to'."

Rose continued: "People might think it happens, but to me that's racism. These are the sort of things I have to put up with. This is everyday life for me.

"I feel embarrassed to even complain in a way and bring this up when you see the incident in America where a black man lost his life at the hands of people who are supposed to protect and serve.

"Whenever I do complain about things, you hear people say, 'you're on this money, so get on with it'. I give up with hoping things will change because that's some people's mentality towards racism."

That incident in America, the death of George Floyd while in police custody, sparked protests across the world.

Rose explained how the decision for Premier League players to take a knee in support of the Black Lives Matter movement emerged from suggestions made in a WhatsApp group shared by the captains of each club.

"It was a beautiful thing that had been suggested. I just hope it is as powerful as it looks on TV [now] in years to come," he said.

"I have no idea [how much impact it can make]. You have to wait and see. There's never been such a devastating incident as what had happened in America with George Floyd passing away. That's one of the biggest things that I've seen in the world.

"But things have happened in the past and after a month or two it's just business as normal.

"I hope this is something now that will catch everyone's eyes, ears and minds. All we can do now is wait and see. Hopefully, nothing like that happens again and there is equality everywhere – in football and the world."

However, in further explaining his latest dealings with police in his hometown, a wearied Rose conceded a lifetime of similar experiences makes it hard for him to envisage genuine change.

"When this happened last week, I'd just left my mum's house. I was pulled up in a car park, the engine was off," he said.

"The police pulled in, they brought a riot van, three police cars and they questioned me saying we've had a report that we've had a car that was not driving correctly.

"I'm like, 'Okay, why does that make it my car?'. They got my DL [driving license], they breathalysed me.

"Honestly, it's just one of those things to me now. I don't understand what I can do or who I can complain to anymore.

"This first happened to me when I was 15 and now, I'm 30. It's 15 years of this on and off the field happening and there's no change whatsoever.

"I don't want to be repeating the same words that I say, and people end up saying, 'Oh, be quiet – he's always moaning' but those are my experiences. I'll be honest: that will not be the last of my experiences."

Stats Perform News approached South Yorkshire Police for their comments on Rose's observations.

Amanda Staveley, the businesswoman at the centre of a Saudi-backed bid to buy Newcastle United, has claimed opposition from other Premier League clubs caused the deal to break down.

On Thursday, a consortium led by the Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund (PIF) pulled out of a bid to buy the Premier League club.

A proposed £300m purchase, backed by the PIF, whose chairman is Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, had been withdrawn – mainly due to the protracted nature of negotiations.

Staveley, whose PCP Capital Partners would have taken 10 per cent of the club, with another 10 per cent going to Simon and David Reuben, who are property developers, was at the centre of negotiations.

"We are heartbroken obviously," she told The Times. 

"Of course we do [blame the Premier League]. They had a chance, they say we have not answered all the questions and we have done so.

"But the other clubs in the Premier League didn't want it to happen.

"We are so heartbroken for the Newcastle fans as the investment that was going to go into the club, especially with everything happening with Brexit and COVID-19, would have been so important. This is catastrophic for them.

"It has been going on for so long and the opportunity was there."

A further complication to the deal came after Saudi Arabia were found by the World Trade Organisation to have enabled the piracy of Premier League matches being broadcast by beIN Sport.

Staveley, though, insists the hurdle could have been easily overcome.

"The piracy issue was not an issue but we tried to resolve it anyway," she said. "They [the Premier League] tried to make the state of Saudi a director. The PIF had agreed to become a director."

However, Staveley hinted there may be a possibility of reigniting the deal.

"Do we give up now? I don't know, there may be a way forward, but we have had to put a statement out," she added.

"I'm trying to deal with the facts and we had to make a decision today."

Amnesty International has suggested the collapse of Newcastle United's Saudi-backed takeover will be seen as a "sign" that human rights defenders have not been completely disregarded.

A proposed £300million purchase of the Premier League club, backed by Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund (PIF), whose chairman is Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, had been ongoing for several months.

But the prospective new owners pulled out of a deal on Thursday, owing largely to the protracted nature of negotiations, which combined with the coronavirus pandemic, had made the investment "no longer commercially viable".

There had been strong opposition to the deal from human rights campaigners concerned about Saudi Arabia's welfare practices, while matters were complicated further when the World Trade Organization (WTO) published a report that found representatives of the Kingdom facilitated the breach of piracy laws through broadcasting network beoutQ, who were accused of illegally showing Premier League football and other sport.

Amnesty International, the world's leading human rights organisation, was among the most vocal critics when the deal first came to light, telling Stats Perform News in April that the takeover was an attempt to "sportswash" – using sports or a club as a PR tool to divert attention from areas of concern, or improve a country's image.

Following Thursday's collapse, the organisation is hoping human rights defenders take heart.

"This deal was always a blatant attempt by the government of Saudi Arabia to try to sportswash its abysmal human rights record by buying into the passion, prestige and pride of Tyneside football," Peter Frankental, Amnesty International UK's economics affairs programme director, said.

"The fact that this sportswashing bid has failed will be seen by human rights defenders in Saudi Arabia as a sign that their suffering has not been entirely overlooked.

"Numerous peaceful Saudi human rights activists are currently behind bars, and of course a Saudi journalist was grotesquely murdered by agents of the Saudi state less than two years ago.

"Looking ahead, there needs to be a rule change to ensure the Premier League's Owners' and Directors' test provides proper scrutiny of the human rights records of those trying to buy into English football, not least when the buyers are governments or government representatives.

"We'll be watching developments at St James' Park with interest and meanwhile we wish Newcastle United and its fans well."

A consortium led by the Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund has pulled out of a bid to buy Newcastle United.

A proposed £300m purchase of the Premier League club, backed by the PIF, whose chairman is Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, has been withdrawn largely due to the protracted nature of negotiations.

A statement initially carried by Sky Sports News on behalf of the PIF, PCP Capital Partners and Reuben Brothers, confirmed: "With a deep appreciation for the Newcastle community and the significance of its football club, we have come to the decision to withdraw our interest in acquiring Newcastle United Football Club.

"We do so with regret, as we were excited and fully committed to invest in the great city of Newcastle and believe we could have returned the club to the position of its history, tradition and fans' merit.

"Unfortunately, the prolonged process under the current circumstances coupled with global uncertainty has rendered the potential investment no longer commercially viable.

"To that end, we feel a responsibility to the fans to explain the lack of alternatives from an investment perspective.

"As an autonomous and purely commercial investor, our focus was on building long-term value for the club, its fans and the community as we remained committed to collaboration, practicality and proactivity through a difficult period of global uncertainty and significant challenges for the fans and the club.

"Ultimately, during the unforeseeably prolonged process, the commercial agreement between the Investment Group and the club's owners expired and our investment thesis could not be sustained, particularly with no clarity as to the circumstances under which the next season will start and the new norms that will arise for matches, training and other activities.

"As often occurs with proposed investments in uncertain periods, time itself became an enemy of the transaction, particularly during this difficult phase marked by the many real challenges facing us all from COVID-19.

"We feel great compassion for the Newcastle United fans, with whom we shared a great commitment to help Newcastle United harness its tremendous potential and build upon its impressive and historic legacy while working closely with the local community.

"We would like to say that we truly appreciated your incredible expressions of support and your patience throughout this process. We are sorry it is not to be.

"We wish the team and everyone associated with it much good luck and success."

Talk of the takeover has rumbled on for some months but the process has been far from smooth.

There has been opposition to the deal from human rights campaigners concerned about Saudi Arabia's welfare practices, while matters were complicated further when the World Trade Organization published a report that found representatives of the Kingdom had facilitated the breach of piracy laws through broadcasting network beoutQ.

BeoutQ has been accused of illegally showing live sport, including Premier League games, with broadcast rights in the Middle East belonging to Qatar-based beIN SPORTS.

According to the BBC, Saudi Arabia appealed against the WTO's decision.

The Premier League's longest season yet concluded on Sunday with Liverpool champions for the first time.

The Reds were comfortable in ending a 30-year wait for a top-flight title, but there was drama until the closing minutes of the final day.

Manchester United and Chelsea can celebrate Champions League qualification as the division's strugglers reflect on their contrasting fortunes.

Meanwhile, with the help of Opta data, we look at some of the quirkiest numbers from the 2019-20 campaign.


5 - David Luiz conceded five penalties in the Premier League this season, the most a player has ever given away in a single season in the competition.

167 - Jack Grealish was fouled 167 times in the 2019-20 Premier League, the most fouls won by a player in a single campaign on record (since 1998-99).

24 - Scott McTominay now has the fastest Premier League yellow card on record. He was booked just 24 seconds into Manchester United's December home win against Newcastle United.

2000 - It was a season of milestones for McTominay, who scored Manchester United's 2000th Premier League goal against Norwich City in October. They became the first club to the landmark.

27 - The Norwich class of 2019-20 became the only side not to record a single point from a losing position in Premier League history. They lost all 27 matches in which they fell behind.

4 - Chelsea head coach Frank Lampard's fourth-placed finish is the highest finish for an English manager in their debut Premier League season since Frank Clark's Nottingham Forest came third in 1994-95.

2 - Lampard's season ended well, but September's 2-1 defeat to Liverpool made him just the second Chelsea boss - after Bobby Campbell in 1988 - to lose his first four home matches in all competitions.

33 - At the age of 33, Jamie Vardy became the oldest player to win the Premier League Golden Boot, scoring 23 goals in 2019-20.

5 - Virgil van Dijk became just the fifth outfield player to play every minute for a Premier League title-winning side, following Gary Pallister (1992-93), John Terry (2014-15), Wes Morgan (2015-16) and Cesar Azpilicueta (2016-17).

2013 - Anthony Martial's June hat-trick against Sheffield United was Manchester United's first in the Premier League since Robin van Persie scored three against Aston Villa in April 2013.

7 - Martial and Marcus Rashford assisted one another a combined seven times in this season's Premier League, the most of any pairing in a single edition of the competition for Manchester United.

49 - All 49 clubs to have played in the Premier League have conceded at least one hat-trick after Raheem Sterling's three-goal haul against Brighton and Hove Albion in July.

14 - Manchester United won 14 penalties in the 2019-20 season, the most a team has ever won in a single Premier League campaign.

29 - Harry Kane is the only player to face more than one club in the Premier League and score against them all, with Sheffield United the 29th he netted against.

15 - Kevin De Bruyne ended the season with a joint-record 20 assists - tied with Thierry Henry - but he became the first player to set up 15 goals in three separate Premier League campaigns.

93 - Tottenham went a record 93 games without a goalless draw before they were held 0-0 by Watford in January.

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