Boris Johnson lobbied by Saudi prince over sale of Newcastle United football club

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Bin Salman had urged Johnson to “correct and reconsider” a "wrong" decision by the Premier League, otherwise the row over the issue could sour the Anglo-Saudi ties.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has reportedly intervened in a Saudi bid to buy Newcastle United football club after he was personally lobbied by the Saudi crown prince.

According to a report by the Daily Mail newspaper, Johnson asked senior No. 10 aide, Edward Lister, a Middle East expert, to “investigate” the issue following Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman's warning that a row over the sale of the Premier League club could sour the Anglo-Saudi ties.

Bin Salman urged the prime minister to "correct and reconsider" a "wrong" decision by the Premier League, which was accused of standing in the way of a £300 million deal to sell the club to the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF).

This comes as the Saudis had withdrawn from the deal last July, blaming the Premier League's "unforeseeably prolonged process" for the collapse.

Meanwhile, government officials acknowledge that talks had taken place between Foreign Office officials and the Premier League. However, Downing Street has refused to say whether Johnson was lobbied and has had “private” WhatsApp conversations with bin Salman.

The government's denial of involvement comes as former PM David Cameron is at the center of a row over his efforts to influence minister for the collapsed finance firm Greensill Capital.

The Saudis are also involved in the Cameron lobbying row and it has ignited a broader debate about private sector’s efforts to lobby and influence ministers and officials.

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