The takeover of Newcastle United has moved a step closer – but what would the deal mean for the club and its fans?
Sky Sports News understands an increased offer of around £300m has been made by Amanda Staveley’s PCP Capital Partners, who have been in talks with current owner Mike Ashley.
Here, Sky Sports News’ North East reporter Keith Downie answers the key questions around the sale, including the latest on the negotiations – and how the move could affect the January transfer plans of manager Rafa Benitez…
What’s the latest with the negotiations and when will this takeover be completed?
Keith Downie: Talks have been ongoing for the best part of two months but an agreement is getting closer. When Ashley officially put the club on the market in October he said he wanted it sold by Christmas, but talks have dragged on longer than expected and nothing is likely to be signed off until the end of January at the earliest.
What obstacles are in the way of this happening?
KD: There are a number of Premier League policies that must be adhered to when a club changes ownership. The Premier League will want proof of funding from Staveley’s consortium, and they will also be required to meet the prospective new owner(s) before anything is ratified.
They will have to go through an Owners’ and Directors’ Test (ODT) to ensure they don’t have disqualifications or conflicts of interest. Part of the proof of funding will require Staveley to provide a business plan that proves her company can meet all liabilities for the next 12 months at least.
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What do we know about the prospective new owners? How rich are they?
KD: This is the million dollar question and we won’t know until they lay out their ambitions. But for Staveley to have been recommended by people close to Benitez shows that they feel she can take the club forward and compete at a higher level.
We haven’t heard from Staveley yet so we don’t know how big her ambitions are, but Benitez’s ambitions are certainly to have Newcastle competing at the top end of the Premier League and to bring that elusive trophy to St James’ Park.
How will it affect transfer spending in January?
KD: We understand the two parties (Ashley and Staveley) will come together to ensure there is money to spend in January that would give Newcastle a better chance of staying in the Premier League.
Newcastle United boss Rafa Benitez admits he is unsure what funds will be available to him in the January transfer window
This would mean Ashley funding transfers in this upcoming window with Staveley’s PCP Capital Partners reimbursing him once the deal is ratified. We don’t expect a mass overhaul, but likely to be enough for Benitez to strengthen in key areas.
Who would they be targeting in the window?
KD: Benitez has wanted an experienced goalkeeper since the summer, where he targeted Pepe Reina. In this window Spanish compatriot Iker Casillas could be an option. He’s desperate for a new striker and has no trust in Aleksandar Mitrovic. He’ll also look to strengthen in both full-back positions, where Newcastle have struggled this season.
The manager has gone on record to say he signed very few of his first choice targets in the summer, so he may return to that list. It all depends on how much he is given but he’ll aim high then work his way down his list.
What does it mean for Benitez and his future?
KD: If the takeover goes through, as expected, Benitez will be in it for the long haul. He likes the city and the people, and he has a vision of Newcastle competing for Europe and trophies.
I sense that he would find it difficult to battle on if Ashley remained in charge. But crucially there is a willingness from both sides to get a deal done.
How will this news be greeted on Tyneside?
KD: The supporters have been desperate for Ashley to sell for years and the mood is high. For years they have said they just want a team who tries and cares, but they might get a bit more than that with this news.
It’s crucial to highlight that nothing is signed off yet, but an agreement is close and the expectancy levels among fans is reaching fever pitch.