Why a Newcastle takeover is unlikely to be done by Christmas – but could be Saudi led

Amanda Staveley.
Amanda Staveley.
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Cash for Newcastle United’s takeover could come from Saudi Arabia, according to one sports business expert.

Simon Chadwick, professor of sports enterprise at Salford University and co-director of the Centre for Sports Business, believes that funds for a potential takeover of the Magpies is almost certainly set to come from either Saudi or the United Arab Emirates.

He admits the likelihood of a Chinese buyout of Mike Ashley, who is believed to want between £300-400million for United, is unlikely.

Via his twitter account @Prof_Chadwick, he said: “Newcastle Utd: suspect main buyer will either be Saudi Arabian or from Dubai. Tyneside part of ongoing GCC struggle & soft power stand-off?

“To those asking: Saudi Arabia rolling-back state frontiers e.g. by privatising its own fball clubs. That said, govt-backed acquisition of overseas fball assets e.g. clubs, may be seen as a counter strike to acquisitions made by Qatar in recent years e.g. PSG.”

Referring to talk of Chinese business investment, another area of his expertise as a senior fellow of the University of Nottingham’s China Policy Institute, he said: “China deal always unlikely. Middle East more likely source of buyer.”

Meanwhile, former Liverpool managing director Christian Purslow believes the sale of Newcastle before the January window is “extraordinarily unlikely”.

With Amanda Staveley and PCP believed to be readying an offer for the Magpies, and Ashley keen to get a deal done quickly, talk has moved on to manager Rafa Benitez’s transfer budget for the January window getting a New Year boost.

But Purslow, who worked with Benitez on Merseyside, thinks that is less likely than many are reporting.

He said: “I’ve spent most of my life buying companies – clean, well-run, predictable companies. Probably that takes six months to execute a sale. Football clubs are anything but – they’re complicated, where the club finishes in the league determines value.

“People trying to buy a football club – it’s a lot easier to time that at the end of a season when you can see where a club sits, you can see what its financials actually look like.

“Any buyer is going to need to get to the bottom of the tax investigation too. My feeling as an experienced mergers and acquisitions guy is that selling Newcastle in the next six weeks looks extraordinarily unlikely.

“If I was a betting man, I’d think it will be sold by the end of the season – not by Christmas.”