Everything we know about the Newcastle United takeover – from Saudi states to Orlegi Sports, a 2019/20 timeline

Newcastle United has been awash with endless takeover tales for the last 12 months – from the apparent incoming Arab riches to the meagre pickings of a buy now, pay later American investment firm.

Tuesday, 31st March 2020, 11:36 am
Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is pictured while meeting with the Tunisian President at the presidential palace in Carthage on the eastern outskirts of the capital Tunis on November 27, 2018. (Photo by FETHI BELAID / AFP) (Photo credit should read FETHI BELAID/AFP via Getty Images)

But, despite all of the rumour and conjecture, claims and counter-claims, statements and radio silence from Newcastle United, Sports Direct tycoon Mike Ashley remains the owner at St James’s Park.

Here’s how the last year has played out on the takeover front, including the latest Saudi developments.

The Sun publish an exclusive from writer Justin Allen. They claim Newcastle has been sold to the Bin Zayed Group in a £350million deal. Sources at St James’s Park give a “no comment”.

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The Bin Zayed Group issue statement: It reads: “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". They say "terms agreed.".
Sources at NUFC confirm the statement is genuine. On the record the Premier League and Newcastle United remain firm in their “no comment” stance. Claims that ‘proof of funds’ have been sent.
A second statement from the group arrives, further clarifying their stance. The Bin Zayed Group's managing director Midhat Kidwai said: "Terms have been agreed between us and Mike Ashley." They confirm proof of funds sent and Premier League tests started. Sources elsewhere continue to refute this.
It’s established through sources in the Middle East that Sheikh Khaled – BZG’s head – is a second cousin of Manchester City owner Sheikh Mansour, after plenty of claims and counter-claims to the contrary.
Unofficial confirmation comes out that Newcastle and BZG have signed a non-disclosure agreement (NDA).
The Sunday Mirror suggests Jose Mourinho and Arsene Wenger are preferred candidates to replace Rafa Benitez, whose deal ends on June 30.
Dubai journalist and presenter Peter Redding said: “Here in the UAE local business people do not speak of wealth it is known as Haram (not allowed). But it is definitely safe to say he is a serious player.”
Mike Ashley has blamed the Bin Zayed Group for Rafa Benitez’s departure at Newcastle United, according to the Mirror. They claim Ashley ended contract talks with Benitez following discussions with would-be buyer Sheikh Khaled. Benitez’s contract comes to an end.
The Bin Zayed Group have issued a fresh statement on their efforts to takeover Newcastle – this time, bizarrely, through Redding. It read: "Both parties have worked diligently in finalising a deal, none more so than ourselves."
Claims from the financial publications and the City that the Bin Zayed Group’s bid will be linked in to US hedge funds. This is denied privately by sources close to the bid.
Mike Ashley speaks to Mail about his Newcastle ownership. Claims he is a willing seller. On BZG he said: "The last bid, the one from UAE, he's a prince and he's got £38bn or £100bn, all these numbers — well, why would you even care what you're paying then? What difference would £10m either way make?"
Ashley: "Peter Kenyon convinced me last Christmas that it was going to get done. I'm never doing that again. I think I could own this football club for ever. That is my new mental state."
The Daily Mail reveal Kenyon is back on the scene - this time with GACP Sports and Joseph DaGrosa. A 46-page brochure is circulated to the press - and although detailed, it is littered with basic errors.
United sources are sceptical about the Kenyon-led bid and the money behind it.
Journalist Martin Samuel, who revealed Ashley's thoughts on the takeover in the summer, suggests Peter Kenyon does not have the cash to complete a takeover, even side-by-side with his current investors.
GACP Sports Ltd form two new companies called ‘GACP Newcastle Management LLP’ and ‘GACP Newcastle Partners LLP’. The former was launched on September 27, 2019 with the latter set-up on October 1, 2019.
Alejandro Irarragorri was in London around the time of a claimed meeting between Mike Ashley and two Mexican businessman. The Athletic claim the Sports Direct Tycoon was rude and a deal was not close. Could talks be rekindled?
Alejandro Irarragorri and his Orlegi Sports group are reportedly ‘confident’ of sealing a deal for the club having held talks with Mike Ashley in October - this according to the Athletic. Sounds like this one is far from dead...
Mike Ashley returns to St James's Park for the first time in around 10 months to watch United's 4-1 FA Cup demolition of Rochdale. He meets Steve Bruce at a Tyneside hotel the following morning. Transfer plans are thrashed out. Sounds like Ashley is in this for the long-haul.
Amanda Staveley is reportedly on the scene again, this time with PIF, the Saudi royals' investment portfolio. A deal of around £340million is reported in the Wall Street Journal. This one seems to have legs this time (we have all heard that before, I know).
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is reportedly joined by billionaire London property tycoons the Reuben brothers in a deal for United, brokered by Amanda Staveley.
Former Newcastle United boss Rafa Benitez is reportedly favoured as manager under the Saudi regime.
Two more interested parties remain locked in negotiations with Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley, according to PA. We've all been down this road before...