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Ashley agrees to £300m Saudi takeover of Toon

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Sports Direct tycoon Mike Ashley. Photo: Nick Ansell/PA Wire

Sports Direct tycoon Mike Ashley. Photo: Nick Ansell/PA Wire

Sports Direct tycoon Mike Ashley. Photo: Nick Ansell/PA Wire

The Saudi Arabian-backed takeover of Newcastle United has been agreed subject to Premier League approval, according to sources close to the deal.

A formal announcement that Mike Ashley's unhappy 13-year ownership of Newcastle has finally come to an end could now be imminent.

The prospective new owners are headed by the financier Amanda Staveley but the significant backing will come from Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund which is expected to acquire an 80 per cent stake in the Premier League club.

Staveley's PCP Capital Partners will take a 10 per cent shareholding with the remaining 10 per cent being bought by the Reuben Brothers, who are one of Britain's wealthiest families with a property portfolio worth £18 billion (€20.7bn). They already own Newcastle racecourse.

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It is understood there may have been some renegotiation on the price in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, which may now be closer to £300 million (€345m) rather than the £340m (€390m) that was previously agreed with Ashley.

It is understood that the Premier League is already carrying out its checks on whether the buyers - and their nominees as Newcastle directors - pass its owners and directors test.

This can take up to a month, although it is expected to be less, and has been ongoing for at least a week. The Premier League was told, by both parties, about the bid with papers being formally submitted to begin the sale process.

According to multiple sources, the sale and purchase agreement has now been signed, although this has not been confirmed by Newcastle who declined to comment, and the takeover is waiting for the Premier League to give its approval for what will be a remarkable move by the Saudis into football. The PIF is the biggest sovereign wealth fund in the world.

Documents were filed at Companies House last week, and became public yesterday morning, which confirmed that talks have taken place between Staveley and Ashley who has owned Newcastle through a company called St James' Holdings.

The 31-page document lays the legal groundwork for a deal and also appears to confirm that a £13m (€15m) deposit is being paid.

Staveley, Jamie Reuben - the son of David Reuben who is the head of Reuben Brothers with his brother, Simon - and Yasir Al-Rumayyan, the governor of PIF, are due to be directors of Newcastle along with two other representatives.

Al-Rumayyan is expected be chairman of Newcastle although the power behind PIF is the Saudi crown prince Mohammad bin Salman. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Telegraph.co.uk