Mike Ashley sets deadline for US tycoon to complete Newcastle takeover
Mike Ashley will give Henry Mauriss until August 14 to reach an agreement for his proposed takeover of Newcastle.
On Thursday, Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund withdrew the £300million offer they and the Reuben Brothers had tabled for the Toon.
Financier Amanda Staveley, who was leading their joint-bid, blamed the Premier League for dragging its heals.
Although sources close to the deal claim the Saudis knew as long as a month ago that their offer would not be rubber-stamped because of the piracy argument in which beoutQ had become embroiled with Qatari-based beIN Sports, who own top-flight rights in the Middle East.
Confirmation of their withdrawal came two days ago from a tearful Staveley and, while Ashley says he is still hopeful of resurrecting a deal with the Saudis, the door is now open for Mauriss.
The American is understood to be willing to pay £350m, with Chris Ronnie, a long-time associate of Newcastle owner Mike Ashley and, ironically, an old school friend of Magpies boss Steve Bruce, steering negotiations.
And while a mid-August deadline has been set to give Newcastle clarity ahead of the 2020-21 season, there is hope that an agreement could even be reached in the coming days.
Should Ashley and Mauriss get that far, the bid would then be subject to Premier League ratification.
Ashley reached a final agreement with PIF and the Reuben brothers in March after they paid a non-refundable £17m deposit which granted them a period of exclusivity to get the deal done.
But the Saudi-led bid has been mired in controversy from the off, with human rights experts calling for the Premier League to reject the move out of hand.
It even reached the corridors of power in Whitehall with some Government ministers keen for the Saudi bid to be given the green light and a number of Labour ministers opposing the move.
Ultimately, though, the fact state-owned broadcaster beoutQ was found guilty of stealing intellectual broadcast rights was the reason the bid collapsed and that has opened the door for Mauriss, the California-based CEO of Clear TV, to make his move.
Ashley and Mauriss’s teams are understood to have spoken at length over the past week, with Mauriss keen to assume control of the club as soon as possible.
Sources close to Mauriss are adamant he has the funds but a final agreement will not be reached until Ashley has concrete proof that he is in a position to transfer them.
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