PCP Capital Partners has moved a step closer to buying Newcastle United by lodging paperwork with the Premier League and formal checks are underway.
Legal framework for a deal – close to £300m – was put in place by the two parties and emerged in public on Tuesday.
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Financier Amanda Staveley’s Saudi-backed consortium will have to pass the Premier League’s Owners’ and Directors’ Test before Mike Ashley’s 13-year tenure at St James’ Park comes to an end.
Ashley and Newcastle have declined to comment when approached by Sky Sports News.
Sky Sports News reported in January Staveley’s PCP Partners and the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF) were in talks to buy Newcastle.
Ashley originally valued the club around £340m and it is thought the coronavirus pandemic has had a significant impact on the value of the club.
Talks have been underway with the Saudi wealth fund for the past 12 months, with the deal being codenamed Project Zebra – reflecting the famous Newcastle kit.
The Saudi fund (PIF), controlled by Prince Mohammed bin Salman will hold 80 per cent of the club shares, while Staveley, who tried to buy the club in 2017, will hold 10 per cent of the shares and is expected to play a key role in the running of the club.
Who is Amanda Staveley?
– Born in Ripon, Yorkshire in April 1973
– Married in 2011 to Iranian-born Mehrdad Ghodoussi. They have one child Lexi, born after Staveley went into labour during a business meeting
– The family have homes in Dubai and London’s Park Lane
– She was spotted in the stands at St James’ Park in October 2017 before Mike Ashley announced his intention to sell the club
– Staveley was credited with masterminding Sheikh Mansour’s takeover of Man City from Thaksin Shinawatra in 2009
– Also in 2009, she was involved in a failed bid to take a controlling share in Liverpool, walking away when the Fenway Sports Group valued the club at £1bn
– She came close to purchasing Newcastle United in January 2018, through her finance vehicle PCP Capital Partners
The final 10 per cent will be controlled by billionaire brothers, David and Simon Reuben.
Should the Premier League ratify the deal, the prospective buyers are understood to have earmarked significant investment into the club.
Ashley has been in control at St James’ Park since purchasing a majority stake in the club in 2007.
Newcastle have been twice relegated from the Premier League during Ashley’s reign, with supporters protesting on numerous occasions against his ownership.
‘New owners will want to take Newcastle back to where they should be’
Jamie Redknapp, speaking on The Football Show:
For Newcastle fans this is going to be great news. I know the Reuben family, who are involved in buying the club. Right now, they are just waiting because they don’t want to come out and talk about astronomical numbers. It feels a little bit uncouth to be talking about that right now.
However, from what I can gather, it’s just a matter of time. They will invest, they want to buy big players and take Newcastle back to where they should be again.
It’s been tough times for Mike Ashley. He’s not always been loved by the Newcastle fans and he’s not always helped himself. This might be the best for both parties to separate and give some new owners an opportunity to get the club back on the straight and narrow, and for everybody to enjoy their football up there again because it’s such a great place to play.
A good Newcastle challenging for the top six is what we all want.
More than anything it’s trying to get a feel-good factor back again. When you go to watch Newcastle we spend half our time talking about the disconnect between the owner and the fans, and it’s not ideal.
Football is hard enough as it is and right now there will be a bit of positivity about the club, once this goes through; hopefully it gets done sooner rather than later.
‘Top-six challenge won’t be easy’
Jamie Carragher, speaking on The Football Show:
I’ve been talking about Mike Ashley for so long. I don’t think he wanted to be there, and I don’t think Newcastle supporters want him to be there.
The big problem the new owners will have is the same as every other club has had when they think they can challenge for the top four.
I look at teams like West Ham and Everton who threw big money at it, thinking they could really challenge for the top six and even the top four.
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