'This isn’t over – yet': The Newcastle United takeover option open to Mike Ashley
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Ashley and the club’s supporters have been on the same side too often over the past decade.
But their interests are now aligned ahead of the new season after the club issued an explosive statement which took aim at the Premier League – and, significantly, its chief executive Richard Masters.
Ashley wants the proposed £300million sale to be completed – and fans want ambitious new owners.
United last night claimed that the Premier League had formally rejected the takeover led by Amanda Staveley and funded by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF). This, however, has been disputed by the Premier League.
As revealed by the Gazette in late July, the issue is PIF’s autonomy from the Saudi state.
Newcastle claim that the deal was rejected “despite the club providing the Premier League with overwhelming evidence and legal opinions that PIF is independent and autonomous of the Saudi Arabian government”.
The statement adds that owner Ashley is now considering his options.
PIF had publicly withdrawn its bid on July 30 over the Premier League’s failure to make a timely decision, but that wasn’t the end of it. Staveley and David and Simon Reuben – who between them were to take a 20% stake in the club – remained committed to the takeover, as did Ashley.
United managing director Lee Charnley said at the time: “Never say never, but to be clear Mike Ashley is 100% committed to this deal (sale). However, our current focus must now be on supporting Steve Bruce in the transfer market and on the preparations for the new season."
All parties went quiet as further documents were submitted to the Premier League in the hope of a positive outcome.
There was a belief on the buying side that the Premier League didn’t want to reject the deal as its decision could then be appealed. If it didn’t make a decision, then there could be no appeal.
Newcastle and the club’s would-be owners remain convinced that the Premier League does not have proper grounds to reject their takeover. This isn’t over – yet.