Dubai Newcastle United takeover talk look serious, but Mike Ashley's next move is what matters nowNewcastle United has been the subject of takeover speculation in recent weeks and the latest reports suggest change is on the way As ever at Newcastle United over the past decade, it all now rests on Mike Ashley’s broad shoulders. As we moved into the early hours of the Bank Holiday Monday there seemed mounting evidence that Newcastle are the subject of serious interest from Sheikh Khaled Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, a member of the Emirati Royal Family who was keen on buying Liverpool last year. Newcastle’s non-committal response, which sign posts that there is more to the tale than mere guesswork, adds to the intrigue.
To those who have kept their ear to the ground on the takeover front, it is no surprise that we arrive at this point again. Two months ago Dave Kitson said a deal had already been agreed and he was merely openly stating what plenty have said behind closed doors. Just last week an intermediary close to the buying process claimed “serious and credible” interest from “serious people” and there has been a spike in interest of late. Enquiries from Mexico, Dubai and America have been mentioned – one group was understood to be in the data room as the season reached its conclusion.
But this talk is nothing new and cynicism – largely through Peter Kenyon’s talked up but ultimately substance-free offer – has been the default reaction.
What is different this time? Well we await verification. Attempts to reach out to the Premier League have been hampered by the timeframe; Newcastle’s response isn’t committing either way. Dubai’s working day starts in a few hours, so watch this space for on-the-record talk.
And we need to fill in the gaps here. The personal wealth of Sheikh Khaled Bin Zayed Al Nahyan is not known but his Bin Zayed Group commands serious funds. He has been claimed to be a billionaire and the original Sun report claimed funds would be made available to the club, while other reports suggested retaining Rafa Benitez is the priority.
A word of caution. Press Association reported last year that the reported Sheikh Khaled bin Zayed Al Nehayan offer for Liverpool “did not get past the vetting stage because it was deemed neither credible nor worthy of being put to the ownership”. But that was a £2billion bid and required outside funding of £750million to top it up. United would only cost £350million - and is the Sheikh has access to over a £1billion to buy a football club, it suggests he has serious backing.
And Newcastle have set up an internal due diligence process since the Kenyon fiasco and if he has got beyond that, providing funds should not be a problem.
He will need to be prepared to spend. One person who has led attempts to buy Newcastle said anyone brokering a deal for the club will need £500million to get the club up to scratch – and then further funds to take it beyond the top eight of the Premier League. The training ground, stadium and infrastructure all need money spent on them – serious cash at that.
The man who holds the answers is Ashley. We may have established there is interest but what of the Newcastle owner’s intentions? Is he ready to sell? How will he feel about this news coming out in the way it has? Will his PR team move to squash it tomorrow?
It would certainly explain the delays to retaining Benitez. If it is not his job to put a tick or cross next to the manager’s demands he would be a happy man. He did not appear ready to move significantly to pacify the United boss – hence the delay in announcing a new deal. Time is ticking on that June 30 contract expiration: if a takeover is happening, it needs to be a fair way along by then.
Newcastle fans so used to disappointment of late will treat latest developments with caution. A city holds its breath. https://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/sport/football/football-news/dubai-takeover-talk-should-taken-16335849