LONDON United Kingdom– Newcastle United’s sale to a Saudi-backed consortium appears to be close to completion — a deal that could turn the long-time underachievers into a major Premier League power.

The potential £300 million ($370 million) takeover will reportedly see Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund take a controlling stake in the club in northeast England.

AFP Sport looks at three other English clubs who enjoyed a meteoric rise after lucrative takeovers:

Man City become ‘noisy neighbours’

When Sheikh Mansour’s Abu Dhabi United Group completed their £210 million takeover in September 2008, Mark Hughes was City’s manager, Brazilian Jo was their leading striker and Stephen Ireland was being touted as the team’s future star.

Stuck in the shadow of Manchester United for decades, City had ended the previous season with an 8-1 defeat at Middlesbrough and were so hard up that Vincent Kompany said the dressing room toilet at their training ground did not even have a door.

It is safe to say a lot has changed in the past 12 years.

The turnaround from also-rans to the “noisy neighbours” of Alex Ferguson’s nightmares began just hours after the takeover with the shock signing of Brazilian star Robinho — the first in a long list of mega-money transfers that speeded City’s meteoric rise.

City won the 2011 FA Cup and a year later Sergio Aguero snatched the title from United with his stoppage-time winner against QPR on the last day of the season.

Big spending on stars such as Kevin De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling ensured City remained the team to beat and they secured another Premier League title in 2014.

Pep Guardiola’s appointment in 2016 lifted them onto an even higher level and they won the Premier League in record-breaking style in 2018.

Clinching an unprecedented domestic treble in 2019 established Guardiola’s group as one of the greatest teams in Premier League history.

Chelsea’s Russian revolution

Roman Abramovich changed the face of the Premier League with his Russian revolution at Stamford Bridge.

Abramovich’s £140 million takeover in 2003 triggered a seismic shift in power in the Premier League.

Manchester United and Arsenal were England’s pre-eminent forces, but all that changed when, as Gunners vice-chairman David Dein noted with much regret, Abramovich “parked his Russian tanks on our lawn and fired £50 notes at us”.

Abramovich’s cash landed Jose Mourinho in 2004 and funded his wunderkind manager’s assault on the Premier League establishment.

Mourinho won the title in his first season, ending Chelsea’s 50-year wait to be crowned kings of English football, and followed that feat by retaining the trophy 12 months later.

Carlo Ancelotti delivered more Premier League glory in 2010 and Mourinho returned to win his third title in 2015 before Antonio Conte landed the fifth English title of the Abramovich era in 2017.

Having fallen in love with football while watching a Champions League match between Manchester United and Real Madrid, Abramovich’s holy grail was to lead Chelsea to their first triumph in Europe’s elite club competition.

His wish came true in 2012 when Chelsea defied the odds to beat Bayern Munich in the final in the German team’s own Allianz Arena.

Blackburn dream

Fulfilling a childhood dream, Jack Walker’s vast investment transformed unglamorous Blackburn from a relic of the past into English champions.

Blackburn were in the lower reaches of the second tier when Walker became the club’s majority owner after selling his steel business to British Steel for a reported £360 million.

Walker was the local boy made good, who came back to revive the team he supported as a youngster.

Blackburn had not won a major trophy since the 1928 FA Cup, but Walker lured Kenny Dalglish as manager in 1991 and together they put Ewood Park back on the map.

Rovers were promoted in 1992 and Walker’s lavish spending made them a Premier League force.

They flexed their muscles by splashing a then English record £3.6 million to sign Southampton striker Alan Shearer, beating Manchester United in the race. 

In 1995, Shearer’s goals helped Blackburn win the title for the first time in 81 years.

It was the culmination of Walker’s ambitious dream, but they could not sustain that success and were relegated in 1999, a year before their benefactor’s death.

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