Ashley wanted around £400m when he went to market
• Rafael Benítez’s future in doubt unless he gets January funds
Amanda Staveley’s Dubai-based financial advisory firm PCP Capital Partners has formally offered Mike Ashley a sum in the region of £300m for Newcastle Unitedafter conducting preliminary due diligence on the club’s finances.
Newcastle’s owner, who wanted nearer £400m, is pondering his next move and on Monday night was still to accept the bid in principle. Should the Sports Direct owner do so a period of exclusivity would be entered into during which specialist lawyers would undertake a period of formal due diligence. This process usually takes around a month, dictating that a final deal could theoretically still be negotiated and completed by Christmas, although a new‑year completion seems more likely.
Staveley, believed to have lodged her bid late last week, hopes the takeover will be completed by the turn of the year in order to provide Rafael Benítez with the funds needed to reinforce his squad in the January transfer window. Newcastle’s manager was disillusioned by Ashley’s failure to strengthen the team following last spring’s promotion and there are real fears he could be tempted to resign should no funds prove forthcoming in January. It is no exaggeration to say the Spaniard’s future on Tyneside could hinge on the success or otherwise of Staveley’s bid.
If Ashley, who would be disinclined to spend during the coming window, lost Benítez, the club would become infinitely less attractive to potential buyers and a third relegation in his decade long tenure could become a real danger.
Although the sports retail tycoon has been keen to sell Newcastle for most of this year, he did not formally place the club on the market until October when his lawyer announced he hoped to have sold up by Christmas. Shortly after a move regarded as an attempt to smoke out prospective purchasers and possibly create something of an auction, it emerged that Ashley had signed Non Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) with five parties including Staveley’s.
The 44-year-old Yorkshirewoman – understood to be backed by investors in not only the Gulf, where she boasts peerless contacts, but the Far East and United States – has been conducting due diligence for the past month and appears to be the only serious bidder left standing.
PCP Capital Partners has access to around £28bn of Middle Eastern wealth and its standing is testament to Staveley’s renown as a deal-maker.
Long known as a facilitator of football takeovers she helped broker the agreement which saw Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al-Nahyan take control of Manchester City in 2009 and was heavily involved in Dubai International Capital’s attempt to buy Liverpool a year earlier.
She watched Newcastle’s 1-1 draw with Liverpool in October from the St James’ Park directors’ box but has since stayed away from the ground, instead sending her representatives to matches.