Reports are emerging that a takeover deal of Newcastle United is close. The Northern Echo claim that Mike Ashley has agreed a deal in principle with Peter Kenyon to sell the club for £300M, the paper also claims that the payments would be staggered.
Newcastle United fans can be forgiven for not getting their hopes up on this as they have been here many times before. In fact, exactly a year ago, reports emerged that Amanda Staveley was close to a takeover of the club. Newcastle fans all know how that ended, Mike Ashley put a stop to that one. The Sports Direct tycoon did not believe Staveley and PCP Capital were taking negotiations seriously.
Fast-forward a year and the club are in the same position, facing an uncertain future on multiple levels. It seems as though Mike Ashley has been trying to sell the club since the moment he purchased it in 2007. Ashley has overseen two relegations and could well be on for a third if his lack of investment continues. There is the uncertainty on Rafael Benitez’s future. The Spaniard has worked miracles at Newcastle, guiding the club to the Championship title before steering the Magpies to a 10th place finish last season, but this could easily be his last season.
All the uncertainty around the club must be put right for Newcastle United’s sake and for the sake of the fans, who have endured 11 years of bad management under Ashley. There is only so much Benitez can do with such little backing. The former Liverpool manager cannot be expected to continuously work miracles. At present, this is set to be Benitez’s last season on Tyneside and it is vital that he stays. However with contract talks at a standstill for now, Benitez being Newcastle United manager at the start next season looks highly unlikely. Should Benitez leave the club in the summer, Newcastle United would be taking a huge step backwards. Benitez sees the potential of the club and wants to take the club forward, there are many out there that see the potential of Newcastle United, however, Ashley is completely unaware of the clubs potential.
A Good Businessman?
There are many who see Ashley as a good businessman, but there’s not much evidence that back that claim up. Sports Direct have made headline news on multiple occasions for mistreating their employees, most of whom had been on zero hour contracts. Ashley also purchased House of Fraser in a bid to save the company. Pictures circulated online of tacky Sports Direct discount stickers on House of Fraser items. It seems Ashley is turning the company into another Sports Direct.
Mike Ashley will tell the consortium led by Amanda Staveley to come and buy Newcastle United if they want it.
Sources close to the Magpies owner have suggested he does not have the appetite for another takeover saga played out in public, much like Staveley's previous attempt to buy the club in 2017.
Staveley is said to be brokering a £340million deal involving Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund - controlled by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and worth £300billion - and British billionaires Simon and David Reuben. Sources close to Staveley say the funding for the takeover is in place and 'could' be completed 'very soon'.
They have told us that Ashley 'agreeing to sell' and 'signing on the dotted line' are the last obstacles they have to overcome.
However, Ashley has long since stated that he is a willing seller, should a group put down the money to take control of the club he has owned since 2007. To date, that has not happened.
He is said to be far from impressed that news of talks have been made public and there is caution given that such leaks have previously led to a breakdown in any proposed deal.
Takeover talk continues to dominate the agenda on Tyneside with fresh reports Newcastle United could exchange hands for £300m, with the consortium keen to take over pushing for a lower price. It has also emerged that Yasir Al-Rumayyan, chairman of the Public Investment Fund (PIF) of Saudi Arabia, registered a new company with Companies House earlier this year.
Intrigue is building as fans wait for a takeover breakthrough after years of false dawns.
The Times claim the group bidding to buy Newcastle - PIF, financier Amanda Staveley and the Reuben Brothers - are looking to lower the asking price in light of the ‘huge uncertainty’ in football because of coronavirus. They report: “That has sparked conversations about a ‘reduced price’ in order to facilitate the sale. Ashley has varied the asking price for the north east club in recent years between £300 to £400 million.
“The initial price that was put forward by PIF was believed to be in the region of £340 million. The figure offered now is thought to have dropped from there, to nearer £300 million.”
Meanwhile, it has also emerged in the past 24-hours that a new company has been set-up by Al-Rumayyan, the firm - called NCUK Investment Ltd - was registered on January 21, though there has been no confirmation yet that it is connected to a possible takeover of Newcastle United.
Al-Rumayyan is listed as a director on the new company and it has been suggested he would take a place on the board at Newcastle should a successful takeover be completed. On Monday it was claimed that the Premier League has been “made aware” of a bid financed by the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia and backed by financier Amanda Staveley and the Reuben Brothers, who have property investments in Newcastle.
Newcastle and the Premier League have made no comment on the news, which was greeted by scepticism on a locked-down Tyneside.
As reported, the Gazette understands embattled owner Mike Ashley and senior officials were “bemused” by the latest report, which has come amid a worldwide lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.