Sheikh Khaled Bin Zayed Al Nahyan is working to complete a takeover at Newcastle after agreeing terms with Mike Ashley, a representative for the Emirati businessman has revealed.
The UAE-based businessman insists he has “agreed terms” and is now attempting to “complete the transaction at the earliest opportunity”.
A statement released by the Bin Zayed Group, of which Sheikh Khaled is chairman, said: “We can confirm that representatives of His Highness Sheikh Khaled Bin Zayed Al Nahyan are in discussions with Mike Ashley and his team, about the proposed acquisition of Newcastle United Football Club.
“We view it as an honour to have the opportunity to build on the strong support, history and tradition of the club.
“We have agreed terms and are working hard to complete the transaction at the earliest opportunity.”
Ashley, who bought the Magpies for £134.4million in 2007, has freely admitted he cannot afford to take them to the next level and put the business up for sale for the third time during his tenure in October 2017.
He has always insisted if somebody could provide the finance he cannot, he would happily sell and it remains to be seen if a deal can be pushed through.
Sheikh Khaled was linked to completing a move for Liverpool last year, although that was valued at around £2billion.
The proposal did not get past the vetting stage according to media reports.
There was no official comment from Newcastle on Monday, although sources on Tyneside indicated that Sheikh Khaled had expressed an interest, but that there was still a distance to go before a deal could be finalised.
Talks with a series of potential purchasers are understood to have taken place in recent weeks with Newcastle having secured their Premier League status for another season, although Ashley is keen for negotiations to be conducted away from the spotlight.
Time is of the essence with manager Rafael Benitez currently engaged in ongoing discussions over his future with just weeks to go before his contract expires and the summer transfer window already open.
Benitez is an immensely popular figure on Tyneside having proved to be a steady hand following the club’s promotion from the Championship in 2017.
The Magpies have finished the two subsequent seasons in 10th and 13th respectively.
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Former Chelsea defender Frank Leboeuf has acknowledged that Eden Hazard “has to go” this summer following a stellar season that came on the back of intense speculation of a move to Real Madrid last summer – but believes the club should keep manager Maurizio Sarri.
Hazard has been Chelsea’s standout player in a season that has seen the Blues finish third in the Premier League despite an inconsistent campaign and reach finals of the Carabao Cup, which they lost on penalties to Manchester City, and the Europa League, where they will meet Arsenal on Wednesday in Baku.
The Belgian has one year left on his contract and thus, despite a looming transfer ban potentially preventing Chelsea from signing a replacement, Leboeuf believes it is time for the club to let the 28-year-old go, with Madrid expected to sign him during the ongoing transfer window.
“Eden has one year, so he has to go. The club have to think financially,” the former Blues centre-back told The Sun.
“They managed to keep him last year when it was almost sure he would go to Real Madrid, and he had a very good year.
“If you try to keep him, he won’t be as good as he was — because he will be unhappy to stay.
“We have to wish him luck, thank him and find another fantastic player to replace him.”
Meanwhile, Sarri’s future at the club remains in doubt with the Italian having come under criticism this season, for uninspiring tactics and a handful of remarkably poor displays.
And the Italian is also being linked with a return to his home country, with Juventus reportedly considering him as a replacement for Massimiliano Allegri and Roma also a potential destination in the Serie A.
But Leboeuf believes it would be a mistake for Chelsea to let Sarri go.
“If Sarri wins the Europa League and they have qualified for the Champions League, he should stay.
“You have to find that stability, like Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger, to win lots of trophies.”
Manchester City Chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak has fired a staunch rebuttal at recent accusations concerning the club’s finances.
In his annual end-of-season interview with the club’s digital channels, Al Mubarak confronted recent comments from La Liga President Javier Tebas and UEFA’s investigations into alleged financial fair play (FFP) irregularities.
Following a story in the New York Times recently, the club responded saying they have ‘comprehensive proof’ of their innocence in regards to FFP, but this did not stop the La Liga chief wading in on the situation.
Tebas accused City, and Ligue 1 outfit Paris Saint-Germain, of damaging European football with state backing which distorts the transfer markets and stretches the game to its financial limits.
Al Mubarak rebuked Tebas’ words, suggesting he should look at La Liga’s history of big spending, and how accusations are more of an attack on the Premier League, driven by its ability to consistently outrank Spain’s top flight.
“He talks about how we distorted the market?” said Al Mubarak. “There is a hypocrisy in this statement that is ironic. Let’s look at the Spanish league, the time of breaking records on player acquisitions, I mean, who started that? Let’s go back to the world records, (Luis) Figo, (Zinedine) Zidane. These huge jumps in transfers, where did they happen? Mr Tebas should look back at the history of that league, and how distortion has happened throughout the ages.
“I think people with glass homes shouldn’t be throwing rocks.”
He added: “I don’t think it’s just an attack on Manchester City. I think there is a clear attack on the Premier League. Let’s not forget this is the best league in the world. You have four Premier League teams in the two European finals and that’s a fact and that bothers a lot of people in many places.
“We have the best league in the world, we have the most commercial league in the world, the most successful clubs in the world, economically, commercially in terms of global presence, and that’s why this attack is not just on Manchester City, it’s against this league. And I hope people start seeing that and start – I know people don’t want to defend Manchester City – but for God’s sake start defending this league.”
Al Mubarak also suggested other clubs, and leagues, need to hold a mirror up to themselves when it comes to finances.
“I will not accept for this club to be used as a diversionary tactic on poor investment decisions from other clubs. People make decisions, they’ve got to live by them. We’ve managed ourselves well and we will be judged by facts and facts alone,” he explained.
“That’s a fact; we have a a well-managed wage to revenue ratio that compares to some of the best run clubs in his league, La Liga, and frankly in all of European football.”
The UEFA probe into the club was brought to the fore again this month with the New York Times suggesting investigators could recommend a Champions League ban on the Premier League champions. But, Al Mubarak says the club has nothing to be concerned about.
“Am I uncomfortable?” he said. “No. I respect regulatory bodies doing their job and any regulatory process that asks questions. We have to professionally respond which is what we have done. We are dealing with each of these entities as per the process and we have clear answers. I believe, quite comfortably, if the process is going to be judged on facts then unquestionably we will prevail.”