Mike Ashley reveals why he accepted Saudi Newcastle takeover bid instead of ‘higher offer’

Newcastle celebrates as Saudi-led takeover confirmed

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Mike Ashley says he rejected a higher bid than the £305million for which he eventually sold Newcastle United, but turned out down as he believed the Saudi-backed consortium’s offer “would deliver the best” for the Premier League club. The tycoon’s 14-year ownership of the Magpies came to an end on Thursday night, with Newcastle now having the wealthiest football club owners on the planet.

Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), backed by the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, now owns 80 per cent of the club.

PIF Governer, Yasir Al-Rumayyan, is the club’s new chairman, succeeding Ashley, who replaced Sir John Hall in 2007.

British businesswoman Amanda Staveley and the Reuben brothers – David and Simon – have equally split the remaining 20 per cent.

The sale of the club marks the end of Ashley’s reign, during which Newcastle were relegated twice and he was often criticised for a perceived lack of investment.

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But Ashley insists he often put the club’s interests ahead of his own, and said he could have sold to a different buyer had he only cared about financial considerations.

“I would like it to be known that I received a higher offer for the club than the one that I accepted,” he told The Sun. 

“It was from another reputable bidder, who made a credible case.

“But I felt the bid that we accepted from the current new owners would deliver the best for Newcastle United.

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“Money wasn’t my only consideration. There were times when I stepped in financially to keep Newcastle United afloat.

“We ensured the wage bills were paid when we went down in order that we could bounce straight back up.

“Nobody was happier than me when we achieved immediate promotion.”

Newcastle are without a win all season and are currently second-bottom of the Premier League, amid speculation manager Steve Bruce could be sacked under the change of ownership.

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But Staveley has outlined the consortium’s ambitions to turn the club into a superpower on a par with Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain.

“Of course we have the same ambitions as Manchester City and PSG in terms of trophies, absolutely, but that will take time,” she told the Daily Mail.

“Do we want to win the Premier League within five to 10 years? Yes.

“This takeover is hugely transformative. We want to see trophies. But trophies need investment, time, patience and team work.”

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