Mike Ashley has agreed to sell English Premiership football club Newcastle for £350 million to the cousin of Manchester City’s Arab owner Sheikh Mansour. Contracts have been signed and submitted to the English Premier League between Ashley and Dubai-based billionaire Sheikh Khaled bin Zayed Al Nehayan.
He is a senior member of the Abu Dhabi royal family and last year failed in a £2 billion takeover of Liverpool.
Newcastle had been subject to previous but unsuccessful take over attempts from the likes of Amanda Staveley and Peter Kenyon.
But Ashley has now decided to end his 12 years in control on Tyneside.
One of the Sheikh’s first jobs will be to tie down manager Rafa Benitez to a new contract.
He is ready to provide funds to bolster a limited squad that has done well to stay in the Premier League after years of underinvestment under Ashley.
Ashley first put the club up for sale in 2008 after Kevin Keegan walked away after a bust-up about transfers — which was the first of three times he tried to get rid of the club.
And the Newcastle owner missed the chance to potentially sell to Sheikh Mansour after refusing to meet him in 2008 before he took over at Manchester City.
It appears Ashley is not allowing lightning to strike twice now with his cousin’s group.
Shaikh Khaled (61) is president of the UAE Sailing and Rowing Federation but has always had a keen interest in football and loves the Premier League.
He is founder of the Bin Zayed Group — a leading group of businesses with diverse interests in the local and international markets. The Bin Zayed Group’s key activities comprise four business fields: construction and energy, trading and industry, real estate, technology and financial services.