MIKE ASHLEY believes he is about to be given the green light to finally complete his £300million sale of Newcastle.
And the controversial Toon owner is so confident he has told the Saudi Arabian consortium, headed by Amanda Staveley, to be ready to go within a month.
Mike Ashley is confident of finally selling Newcastle for £300millionCredit: PA
Amanda Staveley heads the Saudi consortium looking to buy NewcastleCredit: EPA
Sports Direct chief Ashley — who bought the club in 2007 — has been involved in a legal battle with the Premier League for almost eight months.
He took them to the Competition Appeal Tribunal after the consortium walked away last summer, with the hearing scheduled to begin next Friday.
And the Honourable Mr Justice Roth also ruled a separate arbitration action is set to take place in July.
The group, which comprises of Saudi’s sovereign wealth fund PIF, PCP Capital Partners and Reuben Brothers, became impatient that Prem rulers had dragged their feet over the purchase of Newcastle.
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A deal was agreed in principal in April of last year but it fell through three months later as Prem lawyers struggled to establish the precise links between the consortium and the Saudi state.
But 56-year-old Ashley claims the real reason for the delay was caused by the Prem’s Big Six blocking the sale.
His case is based on unfair competition created by the Prem power base, insisting they fear Newcastle would emerge as a major rival backed by the kind of Abu Dhabi wealth which sees Manchester City as the dominant force in English football.
Yet much like Sheikh Mansour’s Abu Dhabi United have done in East Manchester, PIF had pledged to invest hundreds of millions of pounds regenerating the North East.
And the UK Government is understood to have hoped the deal could be resurrected.
The consortium pulled out “with regret” and Staveley, the British businesswoman behind PCP partners, declared: “It’s awful. We are devastated for the fans.”
Yet those supporters who have long campaigned for Ashley to go may yet see the Saudis move in to St James’ Park — and the back of the hated billionaire business man.
A source from inside the club revealed: “Mike Ashley is certain he’ll win his case.
“He has told the consortium to have their money ready to complete in a month.”
Reports from the Middle East have indicated for weeks the legal battle will go Ashley’s way and PIF will be in control before next season.
Ashley bought Newcastle for £135m in 2007 and virtually from day one the Geordie faithful have been at war with him over his running of the club.
Saudi majority ownership will also make some of them uncomfortable over what critics declare would be another example of “sportswashing” by a nation to improve its image.
Ashley has maintained a close contact with Staveley as he counts down to his day in court.
He expects to emerge not only having won his appeal but also with a £300m cheque to end his time in charge on Tyneside.
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