Newcastle United takeover: Saudi Arabia-backed £340m deal '90% certain' – report

A takeover of Newcastle United funded by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund is “90% certain”, according to a report.

News broke yesterday of a £340million bid which is also said to involve the billionaire Reuben brothers and Amanda Staveley.

The club has refused to comment, but the Gazette understands that talks have been going on for four months.

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However, owner Mike Ashley – who put the club up for sale in October 2017 – is understood to be unhappy that the discussions have been made public.

The Wall Street Journal first broke the story. It reported that the Public Investment Fund, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s “key investment tool”, was funding the bid.

Staveley – who failed with a previous takeover bid – reportedly wants to take a 10% stake in the venture. The financier set up PZ Newco Ltd earlier this month. The initials are understood to stand for Project Zebra.

David and Simon Reuben – who have invested in property in Newcastle – are said to be involved in the consortium.

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It’s claimed a deal “could be days or weeks away”, and “sources close to the deal” have told the The Guardian that they are “90% certain” it will be completed.

Amanda Staveley.Amanda Staveley.
Amanda Staveley.

However, other sources close to talks have urged caution, while fans are sceptical of the prospects of a sale after seeing previous bids which have been made public come to nothing. The leak did not come from the United end of the talks.

Speaking last summer, Ashley said: “The reality is with these deals that once it gets out, if it's not done, it's probably not going to get done.

“I have to assume I will stay running this football club. There are no offers. Define an offer. I'm not a believer any more. 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 forever.”

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Justin Barnes, Ashley’s close associate, has attended a number of recent games.

Barnes is understood to be involved in key decision-making and financial discussions at the club.