Mike Ashley reportedly makes 'power play' in Newcastle United takeover talks with TWO parties in talks to rival Saudi Arabian suitors

Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley is reportedly locked in talks with TWO other potential buyers amid talk of a takeover by Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Tuesday, 28th January 2020, 11:26 am
Updated Tuesday, 28th January 2020, 4:56 pm

A report from PA news agency states that Ashley’s representatives remain in discussions with other interested parties despite reports, which originate from the Wall Street Journal, of the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund being close to a £340million deal.

This news emerges as talk continues to suggest the Saudis, in conjunction with broker Amanda Staveley and billionaires David and Simon Reuben, are in pole position to seal a takeover. It has even been suggested a deal could be concluded by the end of the week.

The PA report claims: “Ashley returned from a trip to the United States on Monday to find the club embroiled in fresh speculation over its future ownership, suggesting the Saudi group, spearheaded by Amanda Staveley and backed in the main by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's immense wealth, had been in discussions with Ashley for around four months.

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OSAKA, JAPAN - JUNE 28: U.S. President Donald Trump speaks with Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman during a family photo session at G20 summit on June 28, 2019 in Osaka, Japan. U.S. President Donald Trump arrived in Osaka on Thursday for the annual Group of 20 gathering together with other world leaders who will use the two-day summit to discuss pressing economic, climate change, as well as geopolitical issues. The US-China trade war is expected to dominate the meetings in Osaka as President Trump and China's President Xi Jinping are scheduled to meet on Saturday in an attempt to resolve the ongoing the trade clashes between the world's two largest economies. (Photo by Kim Kyung-Hoon - Pool/Getty Images)

“Fresh details have emerged since outlining the structure of the bid - the Reuben brothers, David and Simon, are said to be partners, while businessman Yasir Al-Rumayyan would reportedly be installed as chairman – with reports claiming an agreement is "90 per cent" likely to be reached.

"However, an exasperated Ashley returned to his desk distinctly unimpressed that the matter had been made public, having stated in no uncertain terms following the collapse of Staveley's previous bid to take over the club two years ago, that all future business would be conducted behind firmly closed doors.”

It continues: “Sources close to the sportswear tycoon having indicated talks with other prospective buyers are continuing, he appears to be challenging the Saudis to make a decisive move with a less than subtle shot across their bows.”

Scepticism remains rife among the takeover-weary United fanbase, and at this stage, that’s no bad standpoint to retain.

Since 2018, United have seen takeover talks with Staveley’s PCP Capital Partners collapse, so too two separate sets of negotiations with former Manchester Untied and Chelsea chief Peter Kenyon. Only last summer the Bin Zayed Group also hit hurdles when attempting to broker a deal.