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Newcastle United takeover latest – Bin Zayed Group to address 3 key issues by close of play Friday

2 months ago
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The Newcastle United takeover conversation that was sparked off on only Sunday night, now feels like it has been with us forever, rather than only 60 hours or so.

They say that it is the hope that kills you and certainly once the story was/is out there, it is difficult not to start thinking about what could potentially lie ahead, if Mike Ashley does indeed sell out to ambitious new owners.

Only time will tell if after over 12 years we finally see the back of Mike Ashley. However, safe to say that now the thought of kicking off the new season in August with Ashley still owning the club is a truly depressing thought, whilst starting the 2018/19 season with Mike Ashley still here BUT Rafa Benitez having exited, would really feel like the ultimate kick where it hurts.

Trying to make sense of where any Newcastle United takeover progress has got to, is difficult, to say the least.

However, we reported yesterday what Dubai based Ben Jacobs was saying, he works as a senior journalist/commentator for beINSports and ESPN. He stated that Bin Zayed Group sources had told him that they don’t expect a takeover to be completed before July, which means that Rafa Benitez is set to see his current three year contract run out before then (30 June 2019).

With scepticism amongt Newcastle fans and UK media as to exactly where the claimed takeover is at, on Wednesday Ben Jacobs has once again attempted to shine some light on the situation.

He says he understands a verbal agreement has been reached with Mike Ashley and that the price is agreed at £350m.

However, three big issues are outstanding, these being an actual official bid being made, proof of funds shown, as well as the papers regarding planned change of NUFC ownership being formally supplied to the Premier League for scrutiny.

Ben Jacobs says that his Bin Zayed Group sources have told him that ‘headway’ on these three key issues will be made by close of business on Friday and describes the Newcastle United takeover overall as being ‘Deal not off, but far off.’

In explaining the culture of business in the UAE, he adds that:

“Have seen this a few times with Middle East consortiums, even successful ones.

“They come from outside of football, with different business approaches, agree a deal, but then the bureaucracy is slow and in fairness, if you have huge wealth and are paying outright, Proof of Funds appears tedious.”

I think the overall message is that if there is to be a Newcastle United takeover, there is some way to go and Newcastle fans are in for a tense wait, especially the longer we go without any news on Rafa Benitez’ contract and no signings being made.

For a bit of local background, the UAE is a federation of seven emirates consisting of Abu Dhabi (which serves as the capital), Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Ras Al Khaimah, Sharjah and Umm Al Quwain. So Abu Dhabi is the power/financial base of the UAE as well as the capital and is around 85 miles from Dubai where Ben Jacobs is based.

There also of course remains the possibility of another potential buyer doing a deal with Mike Ashley. Plenty of journalists are reporting that the Bin Zayed Group is only one of a number of possible buyers who Mike Ashley and his people have been in talks with. However, worth bearing in mind on that front that we had the same when Amanda Staveley and Peter Kenyon were allegedly fronting groups trying to buy Newcastle United, even Ashley’s people claiming this was the case. Yet when nothing happened with either Kenyon or Staveley, these claimed other bidders were never named or the issue addressed as to why they hadn’t then stepped in.

The Mag – 28 May 2019:

An interesting update on the Newcastle United takeover situation on Tuesday afternoon.

It doesn’t feel like less than 48 hours since the story was broken of the Bin Zayed Group interest in taking over Newcastle United.

A £350m price reported to have been agreed and Newcastle United confirming that talks had taken place.

A statement was then released to UK media late on Monday afternoon by Midhat Kidwai, Group Managing Director of the Bin Zayed Group, saying ‘We have agreed terms and are working hard to complete the transaction at the earliest opportunity.’

Very difficult for Newcastle fans with so many differing views from journalists, to try and guess where then we are in terms of progress to a conclusion, if everything worked out…

Ben Jacobs is based in Dubai and works as a senior journalist/commentator for beINSports and ESPN, he has given an interesting update and his take on where he understands we exactly are.

He reports that Bin Zayed Group sources have told him that they don’t expect a takeover to be completed before July, which means that Rafa Benitez is set to see his current three year contract run out before then (30 June 2019).

His understanding of the potential buyer’s intentions is that their intention isn’t to replace Rafa Benitez but don’t see him as any kind of a deciding factor in whether they buy Newcastle United or not.

If that is the case, then it is something which personally I am ok with, as if we are to have anybody credible buying Mike Ashley out, you would the plan/ambitions would be far bigger than just who the current manager is. Rafa Benitez has done very well at Newcastle but if getting the right people running the club, then having a good manager is the very least we should be hoping for. Again, not a case of wishing Rafa Benitez away but getting the right deal and getting plans in place would be more important that rushing things just to try and keep the manager.

The reality as well is that surely if there is a real chance of a successful Newcastle United takeover, then Rafa Benitez will have a decent understanding through his contacts, as to how the situation stands. I can certainly find it easier to believe he would be prepared to give it as much time as it needs if he thought ambitious new owners are likely to come in, as compared to if there appears to be no chance of a takeover, believing Rafa would be hanging around hoping Mike Ashley changes his way of doing things before 30 June.

Ben Jacobs does also add the rider though that whilst he understands any takeover won’t be completed before 30 June, he also says that the business culture in the UAE is one where things can also suddenly change and happen very quickly.

As always though, ‘proof of funds’ is what it is all about and the Dubai based journalist states that this is what this takeover will hinge on.

I have never been convinced that Mike Ashley has had any real genuine intention to sell, at least not at a price that anybody would rationally be willing to pay (market price), this does though feel a bit different this summer, at least to me it does.

I just hope that a credible buyer does indeed have the money, whether that is the Bin Zayed Group or whoever AND Mike Ashley proves to be a willing seller.

Ben Jacobs of beINSports and ESPN discussing the Newcastle United takeover situation via Twitter:

“Newcastle United takeover update. Bin Zayed Group sources say they don’t expect a takeover to be complete before Benitez’s contact expires on June 30.

“Will be on Mike Ashley (and the impending lure of a possible new owner. If that happens) to persuade him to stay.

“Notion Sheikh Nehayan wants Benitez to stay as a priority is also solely based on a respect for him from his Liverpool and Real Madrid days and a meeting just before he joined Chelsea. But Wenger, with links to the UAE, and Mourinho are also out of work…

“Point is Bin Zayed Group are making it clear their priority is to acquire the club not decide on a manager. They see no reason to replace Benitez, but also accept he may go before they arrive

“Just one more thing to add: ‘quick’ takeovers can still be slow. Terms seem to have been agreed (according to the BZG statement), but it doesn’t appear due diligence is fully complete, proof of funds haven’t been provided and Ramadan will inevitably slow the process down, too

“I think a lot hinges on proof of funds. But at the moment Newcastle United insiders appear sceptical.

“This hardly suggests an imminent official announcement. But as those who have lived in the UAE will attest, things can move at super- or snail- speed and thus change very quickly.”

What Ben Jacobs said yesterday (Monday 27 May 2019):

“The Sheikh Nayahan takeover of Newcastle United looks interesting and fantastic for the club.

“One warning, though, his £2bn offer for Liverpool didn’t just fail because FSG didn’t want to sell. Nayahan also failed to provide a £25m deposit, show proof of funds or find co-investors.

“For Liverpool Nayahan wanted co-investment of 3750m. This probably means he’ll buy Newcastle United without other investors. Price is, after all, significantly cheaper. Looks like done deal, but I say that with caution. Interest can go cold v. quickly from UAE and words don’t always lead to action.

“Again, not saying it won’t happen… but let the failed Liverpool takeover be a cautionary tale.”

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