Newcastle Owner to Hold Firm at £300m Asking Price After Saudi Talks Break Down

Mike Ashley, Lee Charnley
Mike Ashley is ready to stick to his asking price | Michael Regan/Getty Images

Exclusive - Newacstle United owner Mike Ashley will stick to his £300m asking price for the club, and has warned any interested parties that any bids must hit that figure to have any chance of being accepted.

Ashley had agreed a £300m deal to sell Newcastle to a consortium backed by Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund, but after four months of delays, the group eventually decided to pull out amid fears the Premier League were never going to sanction the takeover.

Amanda Staveley
Amanda Staveley is keen for the deal to be reignited | Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

The consortium, which was led by businesswoman Amanda Staveley and also included investment from the Reuben Brothers, insist they remain interested in buying the club, but they are now taking stock of the events of the past few months.

Shortly before the deal collapsed, Ashley's exclusivity agreement with the consortium expired which allowed him to speak with other potential investors, including American Henry Mauriss.

There had been rumours that Ashley would be prepared to lower his demands in an attempt to get the deal done, but a source has confirmed to 90min that he has warned all interested parties - including Staveley's consortium - that the club's value remains unchanged.

Ashley's representatives have sent out a clear message to potential buyers that they do not even need to speak with him before lodging a bid. He wants £300m for the club and is not prepared to budge.

Mike Ashley
Ashley had told buyers he will only listen to offers of at least £300m | James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images

A source close to the situation told 90min: “Mike knows the value of the club, somebody has already agreed a £300m deal and he won’t be taking anything less, he won’t be restructuring which some people think he might.”

The Saudi-backed consortium remain hopeful that a takeover agreement will be reached at some point, with the chief executive of the Reuben Brothers' Arena Racing Company Martin Cruddace releasing a statement to Sky Sports News reiterating their commitment to an agreement.

"As owners of Gosforth Park and Newcastle racecourse, Arena Racing Company is very disappointed to learn that the bid to takeover Newcastle Football Club has been withdrawn," Cruddace said.

"Given our shareholders - the Reuben Brothers - were to be an integral part of the deal we had many plans for our venues and sport in the North East.

Newcastle United v West Ham United - Premier League
Manager Steve Bruce remains in limbo | Ian Horrocks/Getty Images

"We were planning on creating one of the premier sporting hubs in the UK, undertaking development work that is vital for the region and enjoying valuable synergies with the Football Club. We continue to hope that those exciting plans are not in vain.

"We would welcome any resurrection of talks and progress with the Premier League and are aware that the Reuben Brothers remain totally supportive of the deal should there be a way forward."

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