Dubai-based Sheikh Khaled bin Zayed Al Nahyan has moved a step closer to buying English Premier League club Newcastle United, after his representatives said he had “agreed terms” with the 126-year-old club.
A statement from the billionaire’s Bin Zayed Group said: “We can confirm that representatives of His Highness Sheikh Khaled Bin Zayed Al Nahyan are in discussions with Mike Ashley and his team, about the proposed acquisition of Newcastle United Football Club.
“We have agreed terms and are working hard to complete the transaction at the earliest opportunity.”
The founder of retail company Sports Direct, Mike Ashley is Newcastle United’s current owner, having bought 95 per cent of the club for GBP134.4m ($170.5) in 2007. A controversial figure, Ashely has faced numerous protests from Newcastle fans, often over a perceived lack of investment in players. He has previously announced plans to sell the club on three separate occasions – in 2008, 2009, and 2017 – failing to find a buyer on each occasion.
Reports in recent days suggested that Sheikh Khaled was close to agreeing a GBP350m ($443m) deal for the club, though a Newcastle United spokesperson declined to comment. Now it seems likely a deal will go through.
A relative of Manchester City owner Sheikh Mansour, Sheikh Khaled failed with a GBP2bn ($2.56bn) takeover of Liverpool Football Club last year.
His group’s statement added that he considered it “an honour to have the opportunity to build on the strong support, history and tradition of the club”.
Newcastle have been relegated from the Premier League twice during Ashley’s time in charge, but finished 13th in the top division this season under manager Rafael Benitez.