In Brief

Toon takeover: US tycoon ready to buy Newcastle if Saudi bid fails

Media mogul Henry Mauriss is ‘desperate’ to become Newcastle’s new owner

Newcastle United will be approached with a takeover bid by American media mogul Henry Mauriss if their sale to a Saudi Arabian consortium is rejected, claims the Daily Mirror.

The Magpies are the subject of a £300m bid from the Middle East with the Saudi Public Investment Fund set to take an 80% stake in the club, but the deal has not yet been ratified by the Premier League. 

Last week Amnesty International made clear its objection to Newcastle being bought by a Saudi consortium, on account of their human rights record, as did one of the Premier League’s main broadcaster partners, beIN Sports, and as a result the bid is under “intense scrutiny”.

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Honourable man

If the Saudi bid, which is fronted by British businesswoman Amanda Staveley, is rejected then Mauriss will step into the breach with what the Mirror claims is a £350m offer.

Apparently he has been “negotiating with current owner Mike Ashley since last year”, and his interest remains active despite the arrival on the scene of the Middle East consortium.

The Mirror quotes an associate close to Mauriss saying: “He’s a charitable and honourable man - and is desperate to become Newcastle’s new owner. It’s a genuine bid.”

Jail time

Mauriss may be genuine, says the Daily Mail, but not everyone involved in the American offer is squeaky clean. 

The paper alleges that the £350m deal is being brokered by Chris Ronnie, a “disgraced close associate of Sports Direct boss Ashley”. 

Ronnie was jailed in 2014 for four years for a £1m fraud while in charge of former sportswear company JJB Sports, and the Mail - which claims he and Ashley go back a long way - says that he “brought the American bid to the table in January, but he would have no further involvement if a deal was reached”.

For the time being, however, Ashley is focused solely on the Saudi bid. The Mail alleges that he is “locked into an exclusivity period until early May” on account of accepting Staveley’s letter of intent to buy and he can have no further discussions with interested partners as a result.

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