This is why hopes have faded over Saudi and Amanda Staveley-backed Newcastle United takeover deal being struck

Mike Ashley is planning ahead at Newcastle United – after hopes of a takeover receded.

Saturday, 22nd February 2020, 8:05 am

News was leaked last month of a bid put together by Amanda Staveley, and funded by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, for the club, which is valued at upwards of £300million by Ashley.

The billionaire Reuben brothers David and Simon confirmed their involvement in the consortium.

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Mike Ashley and Lee Charnley at the Oxford game.

That raised hopes among fans that Ashley’s controversial time as owner was finally coming to an end.

However, the Gazette understands that there has not yet been a positive conclusion to the long-running discussions, and Ashley – who put United up for sale in late 2017 – is still waiting for a formal offer for the club, which takes on Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park tomorrow.

Staveley failed to raise the funds needed for a previous takeover bid, and Ashley, at the time, felt that discussions had been a “waste of time”.

The latest takeover attempt was said to be backed by the Public Investment Fund, and the reported Saudi funding for Staveley’s bid was questioned by one expert on sport and business in the Middle East.

Professor Simon Chadwick told the Gazette: "I’m led to believe there’s considerably less substance to this story than has been made out. It seems like most of the noise is not coming from the club – or Ashley.

"There’s absolutely nothing at all with regards Saudi political policy to suggest there’s any intention to buy a football club.”

Ashley – who claimed last year that he could own the club “forever” – has not taken the club off the market, and the door is not closed to Staveley – or other interested parties.

The billionaire – who watched the club’s FA Cup replay against Oxford at the Kassam Stadium earlier this month – is said to be bullish about the possibility of a Wembley appearance in the competition.

Supporters, however, know that there has been a policy of prioritising the league over cup competitions for much of Ashley’s time as owner.