Newcastle ‘planning to begin next season with Mike Ashley still in charge’

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NEWCASTLE UNITED are facing an anxious wait over whether the Saudi Arabian bid to buy the club comes to fruition. 

Reports claim that sources linked with the Amanda Staveley-backed consortium fear their takeover bid could be in peril. 

The uncertainty is believed to be causing frustration for some Newcastle fans as well as the prospective buyers. 

The Premier League are in the midst of putting the consortium through a Owners’ & Directors’ Test. 

And officials have been conducting a review of the case over the past four months. 

The Independent claim Staveley and her cohort had thought they would be given ownership of the Tyneside giants, prior to the restart of Premier League matches in June. 

But Newcastle, who are currently 13th in the table, are making plans to kick-off next season under the control of current owner Mike Ashley. 

The involvement of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund in the Staveley group’s proposed takeover has been mired in controversy. 

The state-owned Fund is chaired by the Middle Eastern nation’s ruling Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

And PIF are reported to have an 80 per cent cash stake in the £300million deal with Staveley’s PCP Capital Partners firm and the Rueben brothers providing 10 per cent each.

Reports claim sources close to the bid have downplayed worries that negative press and a lack of progress over the bid could lead to the Saudi contingent pulling out. 

Sources told the Independent: “We don’t see a legitimate reason to stop the sale. 

“The decision making-process (leading to the involvement in the sale) was very deliberate. They (PIF) do not make knee-jerk decisions.”

Premier League chiefs are believed to be assessing whether the Saudi state-owned PIF fund would be suitable as owners of one of the division’s biggest clubs.

The human rights record of the regime behind the fund has been criticised in recent years.

Last month, MPs mounted a campaign to halt the Saudi-backed purchase of the club.

And in April the fiancee of Jamal Khashoggi, the journalist murdered two years ago in the Saudi embassy in Istanbul, urged the Premier League to stop the takeover.

In recent weeks the Saudi government has been accused of being involved in unauthorised transmissions of Bein Sports broadcasts in the Middle East. 

BeoutQ, which hijacks the Qatari-based broadcaster’s output, is based in the state’s capital Riyadh.

American billionaire Henry Mauriss could be poised to step in should the Saudi takeover fail.

The US media mogul lodged a £350million counter offer to buy Newcastle in June.

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