Newcastle United's owner appears to be in advanced talks with PCP Capital Partners regarding a £350 million (Dh1.62 billion) takeover of the Premier League club.
On Tuesday, it emerged that documents had been lodged on April 9 with Companies House in the UK showing a charge that permits Newcastle owner Mike Ashley to lend £150m to PCP Capital Partners, the company put together by financier Amanda Staveley.
The documents prove a legal framework for a deal was being organised by the respective parties, suggesting a takeover is close. As of yet, there has been no official confirmation from Newcastle or Staveley.
The Wall Street Journal reported in January that Staveley was behind a deal for the Saudi sovereign wealth fund to buy Newcastle and thus end Ashley's 13-year control of the club. The British retain tycoon, hugely unpopular among supporters, bought Newcastle in 2007 for £134m. The latest documents at Companies House gave no mention of the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF).
Newcastle have long been linked to a takeover, with fans repeatedly left frustrated whenever each has failed to come to fruition. In 2017, Ashley was said to have turned down an offer around £300m from a consortium led by PCP Capital Partners, with a relegation compensation clause cited as an obstacle to the bid.
Last summer, the UAE-based Bin Zayed Group seemed set to acquire Newcastle for £350m, but reportedly did not meet Ashley’s asking price. The group claimed to have agreed terms to purchase in May and that “reflected in a document, signed by both parties, which has been forwarded to the Premier League”.
In July, Bin Zayed Group released a statement via a third party, insisting it had completed all aspects of the takeover process and was "working diligently" to complete the deal. However, their interest eventually cooled.
Currently, Newcastle sit 13th in the Premier League, which has shut down amid the coronavirus crisis. No date for resumption for the competition has been confirmed.
Newcastle, who play their home matches at the 52,000-capacity St James’ Park in the north-east of England, have been relegated twice during Ashley’s reign, in 2009 and 2016.