Respected journalist source now tells us Newcastle United Takeover is closer than it has ever been before
An ‘exclusive’ late on Sunday night reported that a Newcastle United Takeover had moved a major step closer.
The report from The Telegraph said that the Premier League had been approached and formally informed that a buyout bid is in progress to try and complete the purchase of NUFC.
The main funding for this bid is said to be once again from the PIF, which is the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia, with Amanda Staveley and the Reuben brothers also having a small minority stake of 10% each.
Fair to say, this latest Newcastle United Takeover update didn’t exactly excite, sounding like a bit of a rehash/continuation of January and February coverage of claimed interest and talks, whilst the added detail of the Premier League said to have been formally informed of talks, not sounding like a giant leap forward.
However, Monday night has brought a quantum leap forward, at least in terms of now real hope of a possible Newcastle United Takeover.
George Caulkin is the most credible of sources for information on the business side of things at Newcastle United and rarely gives updates, so when he does…
Now working for The Athletic, George says that ‘the Mike Ashley era at St James’ Park has never been closer to ending…’
He tells us that the Premier League being formally told of takeover talks having reached a certain point, actually happened last week, that the PIF backed bid is intending to buy NUFC. That whilst cynicism from fans is understandable, this time the takeover talk is most definitely not just a PR attempt by Mike Ashley to deflect attention away from his embarrassing behaviour in recent days, with regard to both his retail empire and Newcastle United.
The man from The Athletic states that whilst there is no signatures on documents as yet, ‘rarely, if ever, has there been greater confidence from a number of sources that the printer ink will finally flow.’
Once/if an agreement is formalised and submitted to the Premier League, Caulkin says that there will then be around four weeks needed for background checks (fit and proper person test etc) on all the new prospective owners, as well as investigating the proof of funding. All of this according to the report will/should take place without it going into the public domain.
George Caulkin says that it has taken months for PIF to finally commit and he says ‘that commitment is now viewed as total’, which he indicates has been the trigger for the Premier League to be formally notified.
A lot of people are sceptical that any such deal might be progressed/agreed during this current virus crisis but Caulkin explains that this is seen as a long-term significant major deal with the aim of it being for a decade and more, meaning that short-term issues, no matter how serious they are such as the virus situation, are seen as having any bearing on not completing a Newcastle United takeover now. As George says, ‘They are not buying Newcastle to sell it, but to invest and grow.’
The Athletic journalist also says that it is understood the price is now ‘considerably less’ than the £340m previously reported and it is also possible that the collapse in the Frasers Group (formerly Sports Direct International Group) share price (dropped by over 63% in the last five and a half weeks) has helped convince Mike Ashley that it is finally time to sell NUFC.
Caulkin says that the legal side has held things up with any details or changes having to be okayed by Ashley’s side and three sets of lawyers each working for the different trio of buyers. The outstanding and ongoing HMRC investigation is also flagged up as a factor meaning things are taking so long, although it would surely be a case of Mike Ashley having to indemnify the new owners, meaning he would sign up to being personally responsible for any financial penalties that are subsequently put on the club, even if after Ashley has sold.
Whilst most fans doubt Mike Ashley has ever genuinely tried to sell the club in the past, George Caulkin says that ‘there are no longer doubts about Ashley’s motivation’, this maybe key to the whole thing, because if indeed we now have a willing seller for the first time…
The report says that the talks are being held in an atmosphere of ‘cordiality’ with Justin Barnes representing Mike Ashley and Chris Mort heading things up for the prospective buyers. The only words of caution are that until any deal is signed off you can’t say for sure AND that with Ashley’s unpredictable behaviour you can never be totally sure of anything.
Difficult to imagine but I think that for the first time I do think that a Newcastle United Takeover is really close and tangible, it just needs to get over the line.
The toxic nature of the club now under Mike Ashley is such that you can only see massive problems ahead if he stays. having to give 10,000 free season tickets away this season was surely the last plaster he was able to apply to some gaping wounds.
Caulkin says that the Saudis are interested in this being a wider investment and certainly the involvement of the Reuben brothers may be largely explained by this, they already have a lot of investments/projects in Newcastle city centre and also own Newcastle Racecourse.
Interestingly, George Caulkin does go so far as to talk about the planned make up of the board, saying that ‘Staveley, her husband Mehrdad Ghodoussi, Jamie Reuben (the son of David and the nephew of Simon) and Yasir Al-Rumayyan (the governor of PIF) would sit on the club’s board, while others have been approached about potential roles within the footballing operation.’
Difficult not to get excited by the idea of a properly run club at long last, free of Mike Ashley, with finally significant long-term investment that can help deliver the potential that exists at St James Park.
Watch this space.
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