Belfast Telegraph

I've agreed to buy Newcastle, says billionaire Dubai sheikh

Mike Ashley looks set to sell Newcastle (Owen Humphreys/PA)
Mike Ashley looks set to sell Newcastle (Owen Humphreys/PA)

By Damien Spellman

Sheikh Khaled Bin Zayed Al Nahyan is working to complete a takeover at Newcastle after agreeing terms with Mike Ashley, the billionaire has revealed.

The Dubai-based tycoon, cousin of Manchester City owner Sheik Mansour and a member of the Abu Dhabi royal family, insists he has "agreed terms" and is now attempting to "complete the transaction at the earliest opportunity".

A statement released by the Bin Zayed Group, of which Sheikh Khaled is chairman, said: "We can confirm that representatives of His Highness Sheikh Khaled Bin Zayed Al Nahyan are in discussions with Mike Ashley and his team, about the proposed acquisition of Newcastle United Football Club.

"We view it as an honour to have the opportunity to build on the strong support, history and tradition of the club.

"We have agreed terms and are working hard to complete the transaction at the earliest opportunity."

Ashley, who bought the Magpies for £134.4m in 2007, has freely admitted he cannot afford to take them to the next level and put the business up for sale for the third time during his tenure in October 2017.

He has always insisted if somebody could provide the finance he cannot, he would happily sell, and it remains to be seen if a deal can be pushed through.

The optimism which coursed through the city yesterday will be tempered by earlier unsuccessful bids and the fact that Sheikh Khaled was unable to complete a move for Liverpool last year, although that was valued at around £2bn.

There was no official comment from Newcastle yesterday, although sources on Tyneside indicated that Sheikh Khaled had expressed an interest, but that there was still some distance to go before a deal could be finalised.

Talks with a series of potential purchasers are understood to have taken place in recent weeks, with Newcastle having secured their Premier League status for another season, although Ashley is keen for negotiations to be conducted away from the spotlight.

Time is of the essence with manager Rafael Benitez currently engaged in ongoing discussions over his future with just weeks to go before his contract expires and the summer transfer window already open.

He could be forgiven for remaining cautious, even if the prospect of a new owner and significantly improved spending power is exciting Magpies supporters.

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