A Newcastle United takeover has moved a significant step closer with a 300-million-pound ($378 million) deal believed to have been agreed between owner Mike Ashley and a Saudi Arabia-backed consortium.
According to several British media outlets, barring any last-minute changes of heart, Ashley’s 13-year ownership of Newcastle could soon come to an end.
A 31-page charge agreement lodged at Companies House last week provide concrete proof that advanced negotiations are well under way.
The BBC confirmed that the Premier League has also been informed of the potential deal and are understood to have begun the process of carrying out checks under its owners and directors test.
The Guardian revealed that the consortium was fronted by the Yorkshire-born financier Amanda Staveley, who has been backed by the UK-based Reuben Brothers and Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund.
The latter is one of the world’s wealthiest sovereign wealth funds and the original plan involved PIF assuming an 80 per cent stake in the club, Reuben Brothers 10 per cent and PCP Capital the remainder.
Sky Sports added that the asking price was understood to have dropped to around 300 million British pounds from a previous 340 million.
The reduction could reflect the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic that has halted most football leagues worldwide.
Newcastle is one of the several English Premier League clubs to have furloughed non-playing staff using a government scheme.
On Tuesday, Bournemouth announced it had reversed a decision to furlough staff amid growing public criticism.
“These measures were not taken lightly, given the operational pressures placed on clubs in such uncertain times,” the club directors said in a statement. “However well-placed our intentions were, we are aware of criticisms leveled at Premier League clubs applying for this scheme.”
Bournemouth is the third EPL club to backtrack about furloughing staff under the scheme during the coronavirus crisis, following Liverpool and Tottenham.
It left Newcastle and Norwich as the only EPL clubs continuing to place their non-playing staff on furlough through the scheme despite a fierce backlash.