Turkey’s richest man in Newcastle takeover bid – but won’t meet Mike Ashley’s asking price

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Turkish billionaire Murat Ülker has stepped into the ring to buy Newcastle United from Mike Ashley.

According to the Evening Standard, Ülker has set his sights on taking over the Magpies, with the purpose of making them a "solid top six club and a permanent feature in Europe".

St James's Park

St James's Park

The report also states that biscuit tycoon Ülker, would back manager Rafa Benitez to the tune of £60million, in order to strengthen his Premier League squad.

But he would not be willing to pay anywhere near Ashley's reported asking price – which is believed to be around the £380million mark.

Instead the Turk, worth a reported £2.8billion according to Forbes, is willing to pay around £220million for United.

The publication spoke to the Ülker family's representative in London, Tom McLoughlin, who stated that the multi-billionaire is eyeing the purchase of United.

He said: "The Ülker family have substantial assets and significant investments already in the UK.

“We understand football and our initial specific target would be to make Newcastle a solid top six club and a permanent feature in Europe with a popular local and worldwide following.”

Ülker, who is Turkey's richest man, is the chairman of of Yildiz Holdings, which owns McVitie's, Penguins and Jaffa Cakes.

He is said to have been tracking the purchase of United for several months and his representatives have been in talks with Ashley's advisors "since early this year".

Interestingly, the Standard report also states that the ongoing HMRC tax raids have prompted some haggling on the asking price.

Also is claims Ülker, who is reportedly impressed by the club's infrastructure, refused the offer of a minority stake in the club.

Yesterday United were officially put up for sale.

A statement released by NUFC on behalf of St James Holdings, read: "As a result of increasing press speculation regarding the future of Newcastle United, the owner of the club, St James Holdings Limited, wishes to clarify its intentions.

"As one of the Premier League's oldest and best supported football clubs - and for the benefit of its many fans and supporters in the UK and across the world - Newcastle United requires a clear direction and a path to a bright and successful future.

"To give the club the best possible opportunity of securing the positioning and investment necessary to take it to the next level, at what is an important time in its history, its present ownership has determined that it is in the best interests of Newcastle United and its fans for the club to be put up for sale.

"To give an incoming owner the maximum possible flexibility to make meaningful investment in the club, including in its playing squad, the sale process will give interested parties the opportunity of deferring substantial payments.

"A process will now commence of identifying new ownership for the club that will be capable of delivering the sustained investment in and dedication to the club that is necessary for it to achieve its ambitions."