If the Newcastle takeover bid ( Project Zebra) is successful, its new Saudi Arabia stakeholder Prince Mohammed bin Salman said he would want Rafa Benitez back as manager of Newcastle.
Rafa Benitez is currently managing Dalian Yifang in China but the Crown Prince has according to Chronicle Live ‘made it clear in writing’ that they would be making a bid for the former Magpie’s manager to return.
Benitez left Newcastle in 2019 when his contract expired after being with the club since March 2016. He was able to pull the Magpie’s out of Championship by winning the 2016-17 EFL Championship after the team had been relegated from the Premier League just after he joined the side.
Project Zebra is worth an estimated £350million and will see the club being bought out by the Saudi Sovereign Wealth Fund.
With over $300billiion worth of assets at its disposal, the Investment Fund has already pledged £200million towards the development of both the club and its infrastructure.
The deal has however caused a lot of concern as its potential new owner Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has been called out by Human Rights activists over issues in his own country as well as his links to both the Jamal Khashoggi murder and the hacking of Amazon billionaire CEO and founder Jeff Bezo’s phone this week.
Saudi Arabia has already been accused of using ‘sports-washing’ to cover up its many human rights abuses as it has played host to a number of internationally high profile sporting fixtures since 2019.
The Premier League may, however, block the takeover bid as they last year accused Saudi Arabia of ‘facilitating the commercial theft of the top flight’s international television rights.’ as reported in the Chronicle Live.
The Premier League accused the government of not taking legal action against beoutQ which is a pirate broadcaster that has been illegally broadcasting top-flight matches using the state-owned Arab Satellite Communications Organisation (ArabSat).
Steve Bruce has brushed off speculation on his future at the club should the Project Zebra go through saying that he already had “enough on his plate” without getting into ongoing speculations.