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Sheikh Khaled ‘agrees terms’ for Newcastle takeover

Sheikh Khaled bin Zayed Al Nahyan has “agreed terms” on a takeover deal for English Premier League football club Newcastle United, according to a statement released by a conglomerate of national and international businesses owned by the UAE billionaire.

The announcement marks the latest takeover speculation that has surrounded Newcastle since current owner Mike Ashley put the club on the market in October 2017. In a statement released yesterday (Monday), the Bin Zayed Group said it had agreed terms and hopes to complete the deal “at the earliest opportunity”.

The statement added: “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.”

Bin Zayed Group’s offer is widely reported to be worth £350m (€396.1m/$443.1m), but scepticism remains as to whether it will be completed and Newcastle is yet to officially comment on the statement. Sheikh Khaled is a cousin of Manchester City owner Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al-Nahyan, and failed with a takeover offer for Liverpool last year.

UK newspaper The Guardian said that although Newcastle has verified the authenticity of Bin Zayed Group’s statement, it is regarded as unlikely that two members of the Abu Dhabi ruling family would buy rival football clubs.

The Telegraph added that Sheikh Khaled has yet to provide proof of funds, with reports that papers have been submitted to the Premier League for approval said to be inaccurate.

Ashley bought Newcastle in 2007 and has proved a divisive figure among supporters due to his stewardship of the club and a perceived lack of investment in the playing squad. The last serious takeover interest in Newcastle came in late 2017 and early 2018.

In January 2018, talks collapsed between Ashley and financier Amanda Staveley over the sale of the club. Staveley’s PCP Capital Partners firm had appeared in pole position to purchase the club after submitting a formal bid to do so in November 2017. The bid came a month after Ashley had placed the club up for sale.