Newcastle United Sale Moves Closer As Amanda Staveley Ups Offer To Around £300M
Optimism that Amanda Staveley will "persuade" Premier League side Newcastle United Owner Mike Ashley to sell the club to her Dubai-based PCP Capital Partners investment fund "rose on Wednesday when the Yorkshire-born financier increased her offer for the club" to around £300M ($402.5M), according to Louise Taylor of the London GUARDIAN. It is believed an agreement between Ashley and Staveley, who met for the first time at a restaurant in London last week, "is now close with a takeover on course for completion by late January or early February." While that "would come too late" for the January transfer window, there are suggestions Ashley could offer club Manager Rafael Benítez around £30M ($40.2M) to spend on the players needed to "avert a relegation skirmish." Staveley would "refund the money once contracts are signed." If Ashley accepts Staveley's offer, "it would signal the starting of a four-week period of due diligence" after which the fine details of the deal would be negotiated. Staveley and her investors would be subjected to the Premier League’s "fit and proper persons test." That vetting process can take around four weeks but "things could be slowed" by the Christmas and new year holidays. Staveley "intends to assume a hands-on role" at St. James’ Park and become the "public face of the club." Ashley, in November, turned down Staveley's opening £250M offer. Although the Sports Direct owner has not yet accepted the improved bid, it is understood "he is minded to do so." Newcastle’s "poor form appears to have accelerated matters" (GUARDIAN, 12/13). In London, Luke Edwards reported Benítez will have a transfer budget meeting before the end of the week and "should be given a considerably larger one now that talks with Staveley have progressed so dramatically in the last 48 hours." The improved bid means Ashley will make a profit of roughly £30M on his investment. He paid £133M for Newcastle in '07 and has "put roughly the same amount into the business in the form of interest free loans" (TELEGRAPH, 12/13). In London, George Caulkin reported it is understood that Sports Direct "will continue to advertise" at St. James’ Park "for a limited period" under the terms of the deal. That, however, "will be regarded as a small price to pay by a majority of supporters, who have grown weary with Ashley’s divisive tenure on Tyneside" (LONDON TIMES, 12/13).