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Newcastle takeover: All parties hopeful Saudi-led consortium's deal can be announced on Thursday

Saudi-led consortium, Premier League and Newcastle hopeful takeover can be announced on Thursday; the deal is back on after the Saudi state resolved an issue with beIN Sports over illegal streaming of Premier League; the new owners are expected to replace Steve Bruce

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Sky Sports News reporter Keith Downie says the Saudi-led consortium, the Premier League and Newcastle are working hard to get the takeover for the club completed on Thursday

All parties are hopeful an announcement can be made today confirming the takeover of Newcastle United.

Newcastle's prospective new owners are expected to replace Steve Bruce as head coach, however how soon that will be remains to be seen.

Sky Sports News has been told the Saudi-led consortium, the Premier League and Newcastle are working hard to get the deal completed, with the takeover imminent as the final elements of the £300m deal are being tied up.

There was hope and speculation it was going to be announced on Wednesday night but certain details still needed to be agreed.

There is no guarantee it will be announced on Thursday but the parties are hopeful and working around the clock to get it finalised.

There is now hope the 18-month saga surrounding Newcastle's ownership is close to being over.

The takeover will involve Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund (PIF) taking a controlling 80-per-cent stake and will bring to an end Mike Ashley's controversial 14-year ownership of the club.

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Mike Ashley
Image: Mike Ashley's 14-year ownership of Newcastle could soon be coming to an end

Newcastle are next in action against Spurs in 10 days time - live on Sky Sports - but a decision on when Bruce would be replaced has yet to be made.

The consortium do not want to make any knee-jerk decisions, but it is understood one of the priorities is deciding who will take over in the dugout at St James' Park moving forward.

Bruce said last week he wanted the takeover to happen for the good of the club and their fans.

Why has takeover got green light now?

The Saudi-led consortium previously withdrew from the deal in July 2020 after the Premier League identified the Saudi stake as a director with control over the club, which would have made it subject to the league's owners' and directors' test as part of the takeover process.

However, the Saudi state removed a significant barrier to the takeover when it resolved its issues with beIN Sports over the illegal streaming of Premier League football on Wednesday.

The Qatari network beIN has been unable to broadcast in Saudi Arabia for the last four-and-a-half years as part of a diplomatic dispute, but the ban is now set to come to an end.

The station had been opposed to the Newcastle takeover, saying the ban and piracy of its content was damaging sports rights holders.

'Consortium wants to invest in January window'

A proposed takeover of Newcastle United by a Saudi-led consortium is close
Image: A proposed takeover of Newcastle United by a Saudi-led consortium is close

Sky Sports News' North East Reporter, Keith Downie:

"The major development this morning is that it could be announced later on today.

"All parties - Newcastle, the Premier League and the consortium themselves - are working around the clock to push this takeover through in time for them to have the keys for St James' Park for the next game against Spurs, after the international break.

"The deal is edging closer - some big movement overnight - and the announcement of a £300m takeover by a Saudi-backed consortium could be announced later on today.

"It's the news all Newcastle fans want to hear. The supporters have been desperate for a change for some time. Some were here last night, beeping their horns, trying to get a flavour of what was happening. Were they allowed to dream?

"It's the Sovereign Wealth Fund of Saudi Arabia having an 80-per-cent stake in Newcastle.

"It's big money, they have a lot of money to spend, though obviously, they're going to be guided by FFP (Financial Fair Play rules).

"The information we were told all along since they came to the table a few years ago was that they were going to do this gradually. They're not going to throw money at it straight away, they wanted to invest gradually.

"There's a lot that needs improving at this football club - the infrastructure, the stadium, the academy.

"I think the infrastructure will be their priority - the other priority of course is keeping Newcastle in the Premier League so I do expect them to spend money in the January transfer window."

'I haven't dreamt in 14 years'

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Former Newcastle player Warren Barton explains what the proposed takeover would mean to the club's fans

Former Newcastle defender Warren Barton says he knows people who have been reduced to tears by Mike Ashley's ownership, as the businessman's time at St James' Park looks to be drawing to a close.

"The excitement, the relief and the pride can all be sensed in the fans thinking they're going to get their club back. It's been a long, long time since they felt the club cared for them as much as they care for the club," Barton told Sky Sports News.

"I've been on social media reaching out to people and I've had people crying saying all they've known is the time of Mike Ashley.

"All this fan base and city have always wanted is respect that it deserves and they haven't had that.

"There's so much hope so everybody's keeping their fingers crossed that it goes through because the fans and the city deserve it."

Barton says he has not "dreamt for 14 years" because of Ashley's ownership of Newcastle, but says supporters will need to be patient with the new owners should they succeed with their takeover.

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True Faith Podcast's Emil Franchi discusses what the feeling is like among Newcastle fans as the proposed takeover of the club appears to be moving closer to completion.

"I don't think [big signings] will happen in January," he said. "They're not just going to throw money around like confetti but when you talk about the money that can be invested behind the scenes to generate a better training facility for the players and a better environment for the fans, so there's other things rather than the quality on the field.

"I think there's some good players in the team but obviously you'd like to add and I do think they'll be a big turnaround at the end of the season.

"In the summer, refocus on what you need, look around at the scouting system, who's your personnel and who's the manager going to be?

"But it's wonderful to dream because I haven't dreamt for 14 years."

The fan view: 'Like when Shearer signed!'

Newcastle fans have been reacting to the prospect of a long-awaited takeover finally going through...

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Newcastle fans react to the positive developments surrounding the proposed takeover of the club by a Saudi-backed consortium, with one supporter likening the mood to that of when Alan Shearer was signed.

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True Faith podcast's Alex Hurst says the potential takeover of Newcastle would be a fantastic and exciting opportunity for the city

Ashley's Newcastle: No trophies, no fun, no hope

'"I want to have fun and win some trophies," said Mike Ashley soon after assuming control in 2007. The wait for a major trophy now extends over half a century but it is the fact that his 14 years in charge were the opposite of fun that Newcastle fans will not forgive.

'Failure, there has been plenty of that. He has presided over two of Newcastle's six relegations in their 129-year history. Farce, that has been a more frequent visitor to St James' Park than Ashley himself. But fun has never been a friend to his Newcastle.

'During his time in charge, the one-time entertainers of English football were reduced to a grim curiosity. The rest of the country gawped in disbelief. Supporters merely endured.

'Icons were alienated, interlopers overpromoted. Money was spent sporadically and begrudgingly, the investment intermittent and haphazard. Strategy was absent. When it did emerge it was about no more than ticking over. Nobody could mistake it for ambition.

'Under Ashley, this became a zombie club, an illusion of life.'

Read Adam Bate on Mike Ashley's Newcastle.

Ashley era in numbers

It's been a rocky road for Newcastle fans since the Magpies finished third in the Premier League after promotion from the second tier in 1993/94 and achieved two successive finishes as runners-up before the millennium.

The club's fortunes began to wane during the mid-noughties and Mike Ashley took over in 2007, following two consecutive bottom-half finishes in the Premier League.

Newcastle

Two seasons later, the Magpies were consigned to Championship football - but bounced straight back under Chris Hughton.

The club achieved its highest standing to date under Alan Pardew with fifth spot in 2011/12 - but proceeded to slip in three out of the following four campaigns, before suffering relegation again in 2015/16.

Optimism returned with another immediate return to the Premier League and a tenth-place finish under Rafa Benitez - but ongoing financial constraints and seasonal struggles have since soured the mood on Tyneside.

The club ranked 19th in the 2019 Deloitte Money League, marking the biggest year-on-year revenue growth among listed clubs. At the same time, Ashley was reluctant to fund Benitez in the transfer market.

Indeed, Newcastle recorded just a £21m net spend under Benitez between summer 2017 and his departure - but have splashed more than four times that figure during almost the same timeframe since Steve Bruce took charge.

However, even the recent injections of cash pale in comparison to other clubs and Joe Willock was the sole key signing this summer, despite last season's struggles - while the average annual net spend during the Ashley era is a meagre £9.3m.

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