Newcastle ‘on brink’ of shock £350m sale to Manchester City owner’s half brother Sheik Khaled as closest associate claims a deal is ‘concluded’

  • It is claimed Mike Ashley has agreed to sell Newcastle for £350million 
  • Dubai-based billionaire Sheik Khaled bin Zayed Al Nehayan set to buy the club
  • Prospective new owner is keen to keep manager Rafa Benitez at the club
  • Sheik Khaled is the half-brother of Manchester City owner Sheik Mansour 

Representatives of a half-brother of Manchester City’s owner Sheik Mansour claimed on Sunday night that he is on the brink of sealing an extraordinary £350m takeover of Newcastle United.

The closest working associate to Sheik Khaled bin Zayed Al Nehayan told Sportsmail on Sunday night that a deal is ‘concluded’ between Mike Ashley and Sheik Khaled, an Emirati member of the family who govern Abu Dhabi.

The representatives also insisted that the prospective new owner is very keen to keep Rafa Benitez as manager of the club and that the takeover is expected to be done in time for this summer’s transfer window.

Sheik Khaled’s representatives claim he is close to a £350million takeover of Newcastle after owner Mike Ashley, left, reportedly agreed to sell

Mr Ashley owns a range of retailers including House of Fraser, which he bought for £90million last year when it went into administration

The Sheik believes that Ashley has decided to end his turbulent twelve years in charge and agreed to the sale. 

Senior Newcastle United sources refused to comment when approached by this newspaper on Sunday night.

‘We would politely decline to comment at this time,’ a senior source said.   

Mr Ashley, who bought a controlling stake in the Premier League club in 2007, has tried to sell Newcastle previously but has never agreed a deal with any interested parties.

Away from football, the Sports Direct boss has been active in the retail sector, buying House of Fraser for £90million when it entered administration last August.

He pledged to turn the retailer into the ‘Harrods of the High Street’ but it later emerged he had flooded the shops with discounted Sports Direct products.

Who is Sheik Khaled bin Zayed Al Nehayan?

Sheik Khaled bin Zayed Al Nehayan is a member of the ruling family of Abu Dhabi and a half-brother to Manchester City owner Sheik Mansour.

He has a PhD from King’s College London from the Department of War Studies and a PhD in finance from Michigan State University.

He set up his business, the Bin Zayed Group, in 1988.

Although his exact wealth is unclear, he is believed to be a billionaire and has interests in the construction, energy and real estate sectors among others.  

When Mr Ashley took House of Fraser out of administration the chain had 59 stores, but many are still facing closure. 

In total, 54 remain open and Ashley has so far confirmed he will keep about half of those. But the fate of others remains unclear. 

Mr Ashley also tried to take over Debenhams last month when the department store entered administration but failed in a last-ditch bid to put himself in control, with the firm’s creditors taking over. 

Last year Mr Ashley defended his running of Newcastle and claimed a parliamentary petition against him raised by Newcastle Central MP Chi Onwurah had led to his employees receiving ‘unprecedented’ levels of abuse.

In a letter sent to Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright, he said his staff at Sports Direct had been harassed and intimidated over his tenure.

He also defended his record and said he had given the club £144million in interest-free loans while clearing its £76million debts when he took over in 2007.  

Mr Ashley has had a troubled relationship with the fans and has previously apologised for renaming the stadium from St James’ Park to the Sports Direct Arena in 2011 for almost a year, before it was restored by new sponsor Wonga.  

Sheik Khaled’s representatives say he wants to keep Rafa Benitez as Newcastle’s manager

Both Sheik Khaled and City owner Sheik Mansour are sons of the late Sheik Zayed bin Sultan Al Nehayan, President of the UAE and ruler of Abu Dhabi. Khaled is the youngest of 19 sons.

Sportsmail revealed in August that Sheik Khaled had failed in a £2bn bid to buy Liverpool in a proposal that would have constituted the most expensive takeover in the history of football. 

But it was later reported the bid was not seriously considered because it was deemed ‘not credible or worthy of putting before the ownership’. 

Documents outlined the buyout that would have been a joint venture between Sheik Khaled and a minority stake Chinese partner.

Midhat Kidwai, the managing director of Sheik Khaled’s conglomerate of companies, also met Liverpool chairman Tom Werner in New York.

Sheik Khaled is the half-brother of Sheik Mansour, left, who has owned Manchester City since 2008

However, an email chain seen by Sportsmail showed an American investment firm chased the Sheik’s representatives for both a £25m downpayment deposit for the £2bn takeover and repeated attempts were made to see proof of funds.

Neither were forthcoming at the time and one source with knowledge of the Sheik’s operations expressed cynicism that a deal would be imminent with Newcastle.

In the case of Liverpool, the deal never reached the stage where major shareholders John W Henry or Michael Gordon met the Abu Dhabi investors.

However, Sheik Khaled was confident on Sunday night that he has finally achieved his dream of a Premier League takeover.

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