Sheikh Khaled Bin Zayed Al Nahyan has insisted he has provided proof of funds in his bid to buy Newcastle.
The Dubai-based businessman sparked excitement on Monday when he claimed to have “agreed terms” with current owner Mike Ashley and was working to “complete the transaction at the earliest opportunity”.
Sources on Tyneside were quick to insist that – while talks had taken place over a deal understood to be worth in the region of £350million – any sale was some way from being finalised.
However, the Bin Zayed Group, of which he is chairman, moved to clarify his position with a statement issued to Press Association Sport on Wednesday.
It said: “In consideration of the numerous speculations in regards to the timelines of the acquisition of Newcastle United football Club by Bin Zayed Group, we feel the need to issue this statement.
“Terms have been agreed between us and Mike Ashley; these terms have been reflected in a document, signed by both parties, which has been forwarded to the Premier League.
“The proof of funds statement was forwarded to Mike Ashley’s lawyers on April 17 2019.
“The so called fit-and-proper Premier League process is a standard procedure which will take time, and we are doing all we can to assist the Premier League during this process.
“We feel the need to clarify this point in order for the fans and the general public to understand the timelines.”
Newcastle supporters could be forgiven for remaining guarded with a series of previous attempted takeovers launched – since Ashley put the club on the market for the third time in October 2017 – having come to nothing.
Amanda Staveley’s PCP Capital Partners saw a series of bids rejected, while a consortium led by former Manchester United and Chelsea chief executive Peter Kenyon was unable to raise the funds after also agreeing a price.
In addition, Ashley had held talks with several other parties and is understood to be engaged in ongoing dialogue with other parties as well as Sheikh Khaled as he looks to offload the club he bought for £134.4million in 2007.
Insiders have always been adamant that no prospective buyer has yet satisfied the sportswear magnate, who has previously offered to accept payment in installments, that they have the finances in place to complete a sale.
However, Sheikh Khaled’s claim that he provided proof last month raises fresh questions.
Newcastle have so far refused to comment publicly on this week’s developments, although sources have indicated that they have done little to alleviate the uncertainty over manager Rafael Benitez’s future with talks over a new contract yet to be concluded.
Benitez’s current deal is due to expire on June 30 and the prospect of any takeover being completed by that date seems remote.
The Premier League declined to comment when contacted by Press Association Sport. Newcastle have also been asked to comment.
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp says his side are feeling “pure excitement” ahead of Saturday’s Champions League final – although Naby Keita misses out.
The German manager, who guided the Reds to last year’s final only to suffer defeat by Real Madrid, will pit his men against Tottenham in the Spanish capital on Saturday.
On Saturday’s showpiece, Klopp said: “We are all very excited about having the chance again.
“Last year we played it, and four years ago some of us played another final (with Klopp’s former club Borussia Dortmund) so we probably have more experience.
“It’s about dealing with the situation, and so far we have controlled our emotions. It’s pure excitement and we are looking forward to it.”
Guinea midfielder Keita will not feature, though, as he continues to recover from a groin injury.
There was better news for Brazilian forward Roberto Firmino, who is also grappling with a groin issue.
Klopp said: “There’s no chance for Naby but he’s progressing well.
“Bobby was part of training last week and will be a part again tomorrow. He’s looking good so he will be part of the final, I’m sure.”
On recovering from two near misses as a Champions League manager to try and make it third time lucky this weekend, Klopp said: “I don’t like to blame my other team – I love them all – but I’ve never been part of a final with a better team, that’s true.
“Our boys mix potential with attitude in the best way I’ve ever seen.
“After Barcelona (the 4-0 semi-final comeback at Anfield), nobody believes more in this team than the team itself. We wanted it really badly.”
With regard to the special dynamic of an all-Premier League final, Klopp added: “It looks at the moment that it is not unlikely two English teams could be in the final again.
“It is a proper European final, it is not a third game against Tottenham. It is a proper European final.
“It will be very tight, no doubt. The quality of us and Spurs is very similar.
“We know a lot about Tottenham but we have had three weeks since our last game and in three weeks I would have known the name of the groundsman of Barcelona, for example.”
Klopp denied that reaching successive European Cup finals is a personal career highlight.
“The biggest moment of my career was in 2004 in getting Mainz promoted,” said the Stuttgart-born coach.
“Winning the Champions League final with Liverpool would be (the) new (one).”
Provided by Press Association Sport
Ex-Arsenal captain Patrick Vieira says he is flattered by suggestions from his former boss Arsene Wenger that he too could manage the Gunners one day.
Wenger, who became a club legend after managing Arsenal for 22 years, enjoyed his greatest success, the 2003-04 Invincibles season when his team won the Premier League without losing a game, by guiding a side that had Vieira at the heart of midfield, wearing the captain’s armband.
The younger Frenchman has since taken his first steps into coaching and managed a top-half finish in Ligue 1 with Nice in his first season in charge of the club.
His short reign has impressed Wenger, who said last month that Vieira has “constructed his career intelligently and patiently” after beginning his coaching career by becoming a youth-team manager at Manchester City and then taking charge of the first team at sister club New York City before moving to Nice this season.
Vieira has been tipped to succeed Didier Deschamps as France manager but Wenger believes a move to Arsenal is likely to happen first, with the Nice boss honoured by his former coach’s praise.
“I’m really privileged to have worked under Arsene and him saying that is really flattering,” he told Press Association Sport.
“If I manage Arsenal one day I will take him for dinner and I will pay the bill!
“He didn’t say it to put pressure [on me]. It’s just flattering that the guy who spent over 20 years there thinks I have the quality to manage a big club like Arsenal one day.”