Newcastle United receive rival takeover bid from US businessman
By Bill Heaney
English Premier League football kicks off tonight on TV at 6pm with a behind closed doors match between Aston Villa and Sheffield United.
This will be followed at 8pm when Arsenal meet the galacticos from Manchester City.
There have been rumours and counter rumours about players transfers and club takeovers.
There is speculation that the injured John McGinn will return for Aston Villa and that Keiran Tierney, the former Celtic left back, will be in the line-up for the Londoners.
Meanwhile, One twist in Newcastle United’s seemingly interminable takeover saga has seen Henry Mauriss, an American television executive, lodge a formal offer to buy the club from Mike Ashley for £350m (€391m).
Mr Ashley, who was formerly associated with Rangers and whose company owns the Fraser Group, Sports Direct and Lomond Shores, has already agreed a deal with a Saudi company.
John McGinn and Keiran Tierney, whose talents could be on show in the Premier League kick-off tonight.
That new figure is £50m more than the price agreed with Newcastle’s owner by a consortium involving Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund and supported by Reuben Brothers and Amanda Staveley.
With Ashley having exchanged contracts with the largely Saudi-funded consortium and received a non-refundable £17m deposit, the new bid remains, for the moment at least, strictly academic.
The only way Mauriss’s offer could succeed is if the Premier League does not approve the deal it has been considering for the best part of three months.
Should the Saudi-led proposal fail the league’s owners’ and directors’ test, Mauriss – the 56-year-old, Los Angeles-based chief executive of Clear TV who is understood to believe he could take control of Newcastle as early as September – would be free to finalise a fresh agreement to end the sports retail tycoon’s 13-year ownership of Newcastle.
The emergence of this backup plan in the event of the Saudi buyout falling through appears conveniently timed to put pressure on Richard Masters, the Premier League’s chief executive, to make a decision.
Meanwhile, these were two games played in a surreal atmosphere. Villa v Sheffield ended 0-0 after the technology broke down and the referee failed to give United a goal when the ball was clearly carried over the goal line by the Villa ‘keeper.
The other match, which started in torrential rain, saw Manchester City beat a poor Arsenal side by 3-0 withe their now “statesmanlike” winger Raheem Stirling getting back on the score sheet from which he had been absent this year.
Stirling had the courage to speak up for the Black Lives Matter campaign to Emily Maitless on Newsnight the previous evening.
So, mark that one down to George Floyd and BLM.