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Mike Ashley PR offensive on Rafa Benitez and Newcastle United takeover begins with newspaper article

3 months ago
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Mike Ashley is still yet to make any comment on the Newcastle United takeover situation.

Nor has he allowed the club to make any official statement/comment as to what is, or isn’t, happening.

Neither as the NUFC owner gone public with anything about the Rafa Benitez contract situation.

A bit of a surprise really that Mike Ashley hasn’t pressed the button in terms of putting out a bit of a PR offensive, in terms of planning ahead if/when everything falls apart.

However, that may have just changed.

Unless this is completely fabricated, a report from The Mirror (see below) on Sunday morning includes this…:

An Ashley source stated: “Mike is starting to think that it’s another publicity stunt, which will ultimately end in the club remaining unsold. He now wants those representing the Sheikh to either put up or shut up. We’ve had fake Sheikhs before. He’s hoping this isn’t another one.”

It is all a bit strange because the Bin Zayed Group have been very willing to be quoted on record, including their Managing Diroector, Midhat Kidwai making two public statements (see below). Statements which made very clear and specific claims.

Claims that even had a date (17 April 2019) when ‘The proof of funds statement was forwarded to Mike Ashley’s lawyers.’

Kidwai also stating ‘Terms have been agreed between us and Mike Ashley; these terms have been reflected in a document, signed by both parties, which has been forwarded to the Premier League.’

So if Mike Ashley wanted to respond properly to the takeover speculation, there are very definite/specific claims that could be verified or rubbished by the NUFC owner.

The newspaper report also claiming that the potential new owners aren’t keen on keeping Rafa Benitez as manager, with Wenger and Mourinho preferred options.

Newcastle fans will no doubt be doubtful of claims in one report of ‘exclusive’ information from both sides of the takeover.

Rafa Benitez has so far kept his powder dry in terms of going public and/or using the media, to comment on the current lack of progress on his contract and the takeover situation.

With the clock ticking, this week could be very interesting as we wait to hear what, if anything, comes from the three parties (Rafa, Ashley and Bin Zayed Group).

The statement from Midhat Kidwai on Wednesday 29 May 2019:

“In consideration of the numerous speculations in regards to the timelines of the acquisition of Newcastle United Football Club by Bin Zayed Group, we feel the need to issue this statement.

“Terms have been agreed between us and Mike Ashley; these terms have been reflected in a document, signed by both parties, which has been forwarded to the Premier League.

“The proof of funds statement was forwarded to Mike Ashley’s lawyers on 17 April 2019.

“The so called fit-and-proper Premier League process is a standard procedure which will take time, and we are doing all we can to assist the Premier League during this process.

“We feel the need to clarify this point in order for the fans and the general public to understand the timelines.”

The statement from Midhat Kidwai on Monday 27 May 2019:

“In response to numerous reports in the world media this morning, we would like to comment as follows.

“We can confirm the representatives of his Highness Sheikh Khaled Bin Zayed Al Nahyan are in discussions with Mike Ashley and his team about the proposed acquisition of Newcastle United Football Club.

“We view it as an honour to have the opportunity to build on the strong support, history and tradition of the club.

“We have agreed terms and are working hard to complete the transaction at the earliest opportunity.

“Best Regards, Midhat Kidwai, Group Managing Director, Bin Zayed Group.”

The Mirror report:

Newcastle takeover news: Sheikh Khaled wants Jose Mourinho or Arsene Wenger as boss

EXCLUSIVE: Sheikh Khaled ready to move on from Rafa Benitez if he buys Newcastle — although doubts are growing in Mike Ashley’s camp that a deal will happen

Rafa Benitez faces the sack if the mooted takeover of Newcastle goes ahead.

Billionaire Sheikh Khaled bin Zayed Al Nahyan and his Abu Dhabi-based group have their own managerial targets, with Jose Mourinho and Arsene Wenger at the top of the list.

Current owner Mike Ashley has put further talks with boss Benitez over a new contract on hold while discussions about selling the Premier League club to Sheikh Khaled take place.

Benitez’s deal expires at the end of this month.

However, we can reveal there are doubts within the Ashley camp that the controversial Sports Direct magnate’s Tyneside reign is actually about to come to an end.

There has been no sign of any of the £350million he is demanding to walk away from the club he bought 12 years ago for £134m.

Until news of a Middle East bid for the club arrived last week, it is understood that talks over a new deal for 59-year-old Benitez, who steered an underfunded squad clear of Premier League relegation for a second straight season, were advanced.

The former Liverpool, Chelsea, Napoli and Real Madrid manager’s deal runs out this summer and the man regarded as a messiah by the Toon Army has been linked with a number of jobs — the latest at Italian heavyweights Roma.

And MirrorFootball can disclose that, when it was put to Sheikh Khaled’s representatives a swift deal was needed to help sort out Benitez’s future, the reply came that there were other options.

An Ashley source stated:

“Mike is starting to think that it’s another publicity stunt, which will ultimately end in the club remaining unsold. He now wants those representing the Sheikh to either put up or shut up. We’ve had fake Sheikhs before. He’s hoping this isn’t another one.”

Worryingly for Toon fans, the takeover talks have placed Benitez’s future on the back burner.

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