A powerful Middle Eastern financier and a billionaire football club owner in tense stand off over a £350 million deal to buy Premier League team Newcastle United

Shaun Botterill/Getty ImagesPCP Capital Partners owner and Middle Eastern financier Amanda Staveley.
  • Powerful Middle Eastern financier Amanda Staveley has countered Mike Ashley’s claim that her efforts to take over Newcastle United were a waste of time.
  • Staveley has made a hat-trick of bids for the Premier League club but Ashley has rejected every single one.
  • Staveley has said this week that her latest offer still stands and that she would make massive investment to improve Newcastle.
  • She remains hopeful a deal can be done.

Billionaire football club owner Mike Ashley started a war of words with powerful Middle Eastern financier Amanda Staveley when he stated that Staveley was a time waster. Now, Staveley wants to put the record straight.

Ashley, owner of Premier League team Newcastle United, put the club up for sale over three months ago.

Staveley’s firm PCP Capital Partners made three official bids for Newcastle but quotes that are “reflective of Ashley’s views” indicated that Staveley’s efforts “proved to be exhausting, frustrating, and a complete waste of time,” according to Reuters.

Staveley made an opening offer of £300 million on November 2. This included £200 million that was payable on completion with two further annual installments of £50 million dependent on Premier League survival and HMRC compliance.

Since then a non-disclosure agreement has been in place. However,Staveley broke that agreement in The Times in order to publicise her account of the difficulties that have arisen since dealing with Ashley.

Newcastle United and Sports Direct owner Mike AshleyGettyNewcastle United owner Mike Ashley values the Premier League club at £350 million.

“I’m very concerned, very surprised, and I’m disappointed about what’s been said this week,” Staveley said. “The suggestion that we were either wasting time or not serious is absurd. It’s hurtful. Hugely hurtful.”

Ashley, who bought Newcastle for £134 million in 2007, rejected Staveley’s opening offer of £300 million so an improved bid of £350 million was made on November 10. This offer included £150 million payable on completion and three annual installments of £50 million from 2020 to 2022. A further £50 million would be paid if the team qualified for the lucrative UEFA Champions League competition during that time, but there would be penalty clauses should the team suffer relegation from the Premier League and/or HMRC fines.

Again, Ashley rejected this bid so Staveley returned to the negotiating table with a third restructured offer of £250 million up front. Take it or leave it.

Ashley left it.

“I’m very much still interested in buying Newcastle and our bid remains on the table,” Staveley said of the £250 million offer this week.

As Staveley’s net worth is £110 million ($US150 million) it is clear she cannot fund the purchase herself, even though she is including “a lot” of her own capital.

To help finance the purchase she has help from billionaire property tycoons the Reuben family, as well as global investors and “sovereign wealth funds.”

St James ParkGetty ImagesNewcastle has a state-of-the-art stadium at St James Park but Staveley would make considerable investments to improve the playing squad and the training facilities.

Staveley’s last offer fell considerably short of Ashley’s £350 million valuation. However, it included an up-front figure, would see current manager Rafael Benitez retain his role at the club, and would also see a significant investment made in playing assets and in fixed assets.

“Rafa is doing an incredible job,” Staveley said. “We want Rafa to be part of this project.”

She would pay Ashley £250 million, then invest £200 million over two transfer markets, and make significant improvements in the club’s training facilities for a total outlay in excess of £450 million.

It is this, perhaps, that has attracted Newcastle’s fanbase to her cause.

“That passion of the fans is vitally important when you’re looking at a club, because you know that you’re a custodian,” she said.

Staveley has only officially met Ashley once and found him to be “engaging and interesting.”

She remains hopeful that she can engage Ashley once more.

When asked if a deal can be struck, she said: “I don’t know… I hope so.”

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