Mike Ashley breaks his Newcastle United takeover silence – and reveals why he 'owed it' to fans

Former Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley believes he owed it to fans to get the Saudi Arabian takeover approved.

Friday, 8th October 2021, 7:00 am

Ashley’s controversial 14-year spell in charge of the Magpies officially came to an end on Thursday after he sold his shares to the PCP Partners, The Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia and the Reuben brothers.

The Sports Direct tycoon first agreed a £300million+ deal with the Amanda Staveley-headed consortium in March 2020 but the Premier League refused to pass it through its owners and directors test.

Ashley, in a move to force the takeover through, launched two legal challenges against the EPL – arbitration and the Competition Appeal Tribunal case.

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Former Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

However, neither case was required in the end following a shock twist earlier this week, which resulted in the bid finally being approved.

The EPL confirmed they had received "legally binding assurances" that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia would not control Newcastle.

PIF’s wealth stands at around £230billion compared to Ashley's estimated £23.5bn.

Ashley broke his silence on the sale in an interview with The Sun and revealed: “Although I am a wealthy individual, I’m not in the same financial league as a consortium that has sovereign wealth fund backing.

“It’s hard to compete at the highest level in football with certain clubs that have almost unlimited resources.

“I’ve known for some time now that many Newcastle fans were frustrated by the situation and were in favour of a change.

“I therefore felt that I owed it to the fans to fight tooth and nail over the last 18 months or so to make this happen.”

Since arriving in 2007, Ashley was subjected to regular chants from Toon fans calling for him to get out of the club due to the lack of ambition.

Ashley, whilst opening up on his biggest regret at Newcastle, insists he nothing but the greatest respect for the Geordie-faithful.

He added: "Despite what some people may think, I have always had nothing but the greatest respect for the Newcastle United fans.

“My greatest regret was that we so narrowly missed out on a Champions League place in 2011-12 when we finished fifth.

“We were a whisker away. I hoped that we could go on to build from there but it was not to be.

“Owning a football club gets into your blood and I would love nothing more than to see Newcastle winning trophies.

“Although there have been disappointments over the years, I wish Newcastle United and all its loyal fans all the very best for the future.”

Meanwhile, Ashley also revealed he had received bigger offers than the Saudi deal but felt they were the best party to take Newcastle forward.

He said: “I would like it to be known that I received a higher offer for the club than the one that I accepted.

“It was from another reputable bidder, who made a credible case.

“But I felt the bid that we accepted from the current new owners would deliver the best for Newcastle United.

“Money wasn’t my only consideration. There were times when I stepped in financially to keep Newcastle United afloat.”

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