Exclusive - Newcastle United will resurrect the proposed Saudi Arabia-backed takeover deal that fell through last summer if legal action against the Premier League is successful, though Mike Ashley has no intention of lowering his £300m asking price - regardless of whether or not relegation is staved off.
Ashley was on the verge of sealing a long-awaited sale to a consortium led by financier Amanda Staveley but largely backed by cash from Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, which represents the Gulf nation’s sovereign wealth.
The Premier League, after months of deliberating, rejected the proposed takeover following the completion of their owners’ and directors’ test. It was Saudi Arabia’s involvement that caused the problem, with the Premier League concerned over ongoing piracy issues relating to broadcasting rights.
Those rights are held in the region by Qatar-based beIN SPORTS, but the network is banned in Saudi Arabia and Premier League football cannot legally be broadcast there as a result. There also remain longstanding concerns about Saudi Arabia’s human rights record.
Newcastle took their case over the blocked takeover to an arbitration panel and a source has told 90min there is a belief within the Premier League that the Magpies will be successful in getting the rejection overturned.
Ashley is as confident as he can be in the circumstances but is refusing to get carried away, given he was also confident about the initial deal last year.
If Newcastle win their legal appeal, more or less the same deal that was agreed last year is likely to go ahead. The proposal took a long time to broker and the takeover party realise it will stay in place, even though their offer - officially speaking - was withdrawn in July after the Premier League’s ruling.
Some aspects of the agreement could change, but it will largely be the same terms and Ashley will refuse to drop the price in particular. That will be the case even if Newcastle are relegated from the Premier League, although their current survival hopes have been given a huge shot in the arm thanks to a hard fought 3-2 win over West Ham at St James’ Park.