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Mike Ashley in talks with two other potential Newcastle buyers amid Saudi reports

:Headline: Mike Ashley in talks with two other potential Newcastle buyers amid Saudi reports: ID:387780: from db_amp
Details of the Saudi bid emerged in the United States at the weekend.
PA | 21d

Newcastle owner Mike Ashley is in ongoing talks with two other potential buyers amid claims that a Saudi consortium is close to a deal, the PA news agency understands.

The Sports Direct magnate's representatives are understood to be continuing takeover negotiations with both parties despite the emergence over the weekend of details of a £340million proposal funded in large part by the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund.

Ashley returned from a trip to the United States on Monday to find the club embroiled in fresh speculation over its future ownership. Its source was a report in the Wall Street Journal suggesting the Saudi group, spearheaded by Amanda Staveley and backed in the main by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's immense wealth, had been in discussions with Ashley for around four months.

Fresh details have emerged since outlining the structure of the bid – the Reuben brothers, David and Simon, are said to be partners, while businessman Yasir Al-Rumayyan would reportedly be installed as chairman at St James' Park – with reports claiming an agreement is "90 per cent" likely to be reached.

However, an exasperated Ashley returned to his desk distinctly unimpressed that the matter had been made public, having stated in no uncertain terms following the collapse of Staveley's previous bid to take over the club two years ago, that all future business would be conducted behind firmly closed doors.

With sources close to the sportswear tycoon having indicated talks with other prospective buyers are continuing, he appears to be challenging the Saudis to make a decisive move with a less than subtle shot across their bows.

In the meantime, fans who have hoped to see the back of Ashley for much of his tenure are refusing to allow themselves to be carried away, and their scepticism is understandable in the wake of failed attempts by Staveley's PCP Capital Partners, former Manchester United and Chelsea chief executive Peter Kenyon and the Bin Zayed Group to take the club off his hands.

The latest development, however, may do little to persuade those who believe he does not genuinely want to sell that they are mistaken.

Also, Amnesty International's response to news of the latest Staveley-led approach has added further complexities to a long-running saga.

Amnesty's UK head of campaigns Felix Jakens branded the reported move "sportswashing" and an attempt to deflect attention from Saudi Arabia's "abysmal" human rights record – a political issue which might come into play if and when Premier League approval were to be sought.

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last updated article - 2020-01-28 10:50:31:
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Premier League Table
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Liverpool26251061154676
2Manchester CityMan City25163665293651
3Leicester CityLeicester26155654262850
4Chelsea2612594336741
5Tottenham HotspurSpurs2611784334940
6Sheffield UnitedSheff Utd2610972824439
7Manchester UnitedMan Utd2610883829938
8Wolverhampton WanderersWolves2681263532336
9Everton26106103438-436
10Arsenal2671363634234
11Burnley26104123039-934
12Southampton2694133248-1631
13Newcastle UnitedNewcastle2687112440-1631
14Crystal Palace2679102332-930
15Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton2669113138-727
16Bournemouth2675142640-1426
17Aston Villa2674153450-1625
18West Ham UnitedWest Ham2566133043-1324
19Watford2659122440-1624
20Norwich CityNorwich2646162448-2418
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