Silence is deafening in Newcastle United takeover saga as Mike Ashley doubts ownership pretenders

Mike Ashley is only thought to be taking the Saudi-led consortium with any degree of seriousness as he bids to rid himself of Newcastle United.

Tuesday, 25th August 2020, 7:00 am

The Magpies owner remains intent to sell the club he bought for around £135 million in 2007.

And despite interest from a number of other parties – including the two recent named 'bids' by Bellagraph Nova Group and Clear TV with Henry Mauriss – Ashley only has eyes for a resurrection of the Saudi-financed £300 million deal still on the table.

While talk of a £350 million counter-bid from US-based Mauriss emerged during Premier League owners and directors test delays, nothing has materialised on that front.

Newcastle United's owner Mike Ashley (C) talks with managing director Lee Charnley (R) ahead of the English Premier League football match between Newcastle United and Tottenham Hotspur at St James' Park in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, north east England on May 15, 2016.

And while BNG insist their bid is real and on the table – they are yet to respond to direct questions from the Gazette about their legitimacy, following Reuters revelations on Friday. As revealed by the Gazette last week, they confirmed the doctoring of images featuring Barack Obama.

It is understood Ashley's lawyers continue to blank BNG following their claims of a £280 million bid earlier this month. They insist they will return with a higher bid, if Dentons reject their low-ball first attempt.

The Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia, PCP Capital Partners and Reuben Brothers deal is hanging by a thread three weeks after their withdrawal.

Behind-the-scenes, with veiled talks on-going, confidence remains that compromises can be made and the deal brought back on to the Premier League agenda.

But United fans are right to sceptical of progress, especially given the silence from all three interested parties in the consortium. Many are already resigned to an immediate future under Ashley, so too is manager Steve Bruce.

It was reported over the weekend that Ashley was going to make a public statement in the wake of the withdrawal of a £300million bid from a group led by financier Amanda Staveley late last month.

But the Gazette understands Ashley is unlikely, at this stage, to add to his statement via Lee Charnley from July 31, which read: “Never say never, but to be clear Mike Ashley is 100% committed to this deal (sale).”

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