Mike Ashley '100 per cent committed' to Saudi-based takeover of Newcastle despite collapsed deal

Friday 31st July 2020 12:00 BST

On Thursday, Sky Sports News revealed Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund, PCP Capital Partners and Reuben Brothers have withdrawn from the process to buy Newcastle.

Saudi Arabia's public investment fund (PIF) had been set to take an 80 per cent stake in the Premier League club under the terms of the deal, which was understood to be worth just over £300m.

But the Investment Group decided to end their interest, citing the worldwide uncertainty caused by the coronavirus pandemic and the 'prolonged process' they found themselves involved in.

It is understood the Premier League, which was conducting its owners' and directors' test on the bidders, had concerns that the Saudi Public Investment Fund was too closely linked to the kingdom's rulers.

Lee Charnley, Newcastle's managing director, released a statement on Friday on behalf of Ashley confirming the 55-year-old still hopes to sell the club to the Saudi-backed consortium.

"We acknowledge the statement issued on Thursday. Never say never but to be clear Mike Ashley is 100 per cent committed to this deal (sale)," Charnley said.

"However our current focus must now be on supporting Steve Bruce in the transfer market and on the preparations for the new season."

Staveley 'heartbroken' after collapse of takeover

Amanda Staveley, whose firm PCP Capital Partners were at the centre of the takeover bid, described herself as "heartbroken" in an interview with The Times, following the collapse of the deal.

She was critical of the Premier League for not approving the takeover and blamed other clubs for opposing it.

Asked if the Saudi-backed consortium blamed the Premier League for the collapse of the deal, she replied: "Of course we do. They had a chance, they say we have not answered all the questions and we have done so.

"But the other clubs in the Premier League didn't want it to happen.

"We are so heartbroken for the Newcastle fans as the investment that was going to go into the club, especially with everything happening with Brexit and Covid, would have been so important. This is catastrophic for them.

"It has been going on for so long and the opportunity was there."

'Newcastle making it clear club still up for sale'

Sky Sports News' Keith Downie:

"This is the first time that Newcastle have spoken on the record since the £300m deal was agreed between the Saudi-backed consortium and Mike Ashley way back in April.

"We've been met with a wall of silence - from the club and the Premier League - since then but the club have now released a short statement.

"They're making it clear that, as far as they're concerned, the club is still very much up for sale and there for the consortium should they be able to pass the Premier League's Owners' and Directors' Test.

"Ashley still wants to sell the club, let me tell you that. There's a misconception that he doesn't but he feels his time is up and as much as Newcastle supporters feel they're back to square one, Ashley is as well.

"We brought the news to you three or four weeks ago that American millionaire Henry Mauriss had launched a bid to buy the club. There are still a few question marks as to how real his offer is; it's my understanding he does want to buy the club. We'll have to wait and see.

"But the fans wanted to say they were the richest club in the world and could attract the best players. Anything else will not feel the same.

"It's my understanding Steve Bruce will be given some money to spend. Will it be as much as last season before the pandemic? Probably not."

What will Newcastle do in the transfer market?

Ashley must now shift his focus to ensuring Newcastle are prepared for the beginning of the 2020/21 Premier League season, which will kick off on September 12.

Newcastle finished 13th in the Premier League last season under Steve Bruce but failed to win any of their final six games.

Ashley splashed out last summer as Newcastle signed striker Brazilian Joelinton from Hoffenheim for £40m and French winger Allan Saint-Maximin from Nice for £20m.

While Saint-Maximin quickly established himself as an impact player, Joelinton struggled in his first season in England with just two goals and two assists in 38 Premier League appearances.

Newcastle are in the market for a new striker this summer and Bruce also wants a left centre-back - with both costing up to £20m. The club is also targeting a young central midfielder, a left-back and a winger.

Newcastle are interested in signing striker Callum Wilson and winger David Brooks from relegated Bournemouth but face competition from a number of Premier Leagues clubs for both.

Speaking about Newcastle's recruitment plans prior to the collapse of the takeover, Bruce said: "We've got one or two irons in the fire right now - let's hope we can pull them off. We've got competition, but I think that will be the case right through the summer.

"As soon as the window opens, we'll go to work. Things are not on hold. We need that decision [over the takeover] to be made, but the only thing I can do, along with Lee [Charnley, Newcastle's managing director] is to keep planning as best we can, and that obviously includes the transfer market."

Summer transfer window - key dates and times

The summer transfer window will run for 10 weeks from July 27 and close at 11pm on October 5.

A domestic-only window for trades between the Premier League and EFL then runs from October 5 and closes on Friday October 16 at 5pm. Follow all the news and analysis on Sky Sports News and across Sky Sports' digital platforms, including with our dedicated Transfer Centre blog.

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