Newcastle owner authorises statement on takeover latest
• ‘Attempts to reach a deal have proved to be exhausting, frustrating’
The Newcastle owner, Mike Ashley, has issued an explosive statement denying that there is a deal from the businesswoman Amanda Staveley to buy the club via her company PCP Capital, or that discussions are even being held with her.
In a release authorised by the Newcastle owner, sources close to Ashley told Sky Sports News: “It is only right to let the fans know that there is no deal on the table or even under discussion with Amanda Staveley and PCP.”
Ashley extended that denial into personal criticism of Staveley, who fuelled media speculation that she might be interested in buying the club when she appeared at a Newcastle match, against Liverpool, on 1 October and was photographed in the stands at St James’ Park. “Attempts to reach a deal have proved to be exhausting, frustrating and a complete waste of time,” the source said.
Ashley is said to have been angered and frustrated by the persistent briefings from sources close to Staveley since he publicly put Newcastle up for sale in mid-October. Staveley was involved in 2008 in helping Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al-Nahyan of Abu Dhabi to buy Manchester City, so her appearance at St James’ Park, and briefings that she has made offers, have excited visions of a similar transformation in Newcastle’s fortunes.
The source of funding for a Staveley takeover has never been specified publicly by her or her representatives, but suggestions have included investors from the Middle East, east Asia and the US, or even that she might buy the club with her own money.
Sources close to Staveley have said that she made a first offer for Newcastle after doing initial due diligence, which was structured to be in staged payments and could have amounted to £350m in total if its various conditions were subsequently met. Then, after Ashley is said to have made it clear he would prefer to sell the club before Christmas for one fixed sum, Staveley was reported to have made an offer in November of £250m.
In December Staveley was in the media again in connection with the mooted takeover of Newcastle, photographed with the tycoon Richard Desmond, meeting Ashley at an Indian restaurant in Hampstead. Sources close to Ashley let it be known with some indignation that that was not a scheduled business meeting with Staveley.
In fact, they said, Ashley is known to visit that restaurant with his wife regularly, and he was not expecting to have a business meeting with Staveley there. Staveley’s camp have not explained why she went there to meet him, given that she was said by then to have made a formal offer for the club to Ashley’s appointed legal representative, Andrew Henderson of Dentons.
Staveley’s position has been that the £250m offer has remained on the table since she made it but that he has not responded to it. Ashley, who returned last week from a new-year break in the US, has not commented until now about any bids or the five parties said to have signed non-disclosure agreements to consider Newcastle’s finances. Henderson, predominantly a property lawyer who conducts transactions for Sports Direct, has not commented publicly either about the status of any bids or negotiations.
Now, after weeks of silence, the Newcastle owner has suddenly denied there is any deal on the table from Staveley, which is understood to mean that she has failed to increase the £250m offer to a figure more acceptable to him. A source close to Staveley declined to react to Ashley’s statement, citing the requirement to adhere to the non-disclosure agreement.