Despite all of these years of touting the club, despite over a dozen Premier League clubs changing hands in the meantime, Ashley remains yet to sell a single share to any of the many interested parties he claims waste his time.
Only in 2020 was an offer accepted that went to the Premier League for approval. This takeover failed, but showed that after a decade Ashley was actually a willing seller.
"The Club has previously not commented on the arbitration it is pursuing against the Premier League (‘EPL’) with respect to its conduct relating to the proposed takeover because of the confidentiality clause in the EPL's rules.
"However, the Club is aware of public reports which state that, on 17 November, the EPL referred to legal proceedings with the Club (e.g. social media posts referring to the “Club’s own legal case”) in a letter to Newcastle supporters.
"The source of some of the reporting is said to be the EPL. It appears, therefore, that the EPL has leaked the contents of their letter to some of those commenting in the public domain.
"The Club understands that these will be matters of great concern to its fans and therefore considers that, in light of the information disclosed by the EPL, it has no choice but to respond and update its fans in response to this coverage.
"The Club makes no comment on the substance of the arbitration, but it can confirm that it has issued arbitration proceedings against the EPL.
"It is unclear when those proceedings will be resolved, given the approach of the EPL and its lawyers, Bird & Bird. Nevertheless, the Club will continue to use its best efforts to press for a fair, full and timely hearing of its claim.” - source
"Newcastle United can confirm that the Premier League has rejected a takeover bid made by PCP Capital Partners, the Reuben Brothers and the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia (PIF) based on its Owners and Directors test.This conclusion has been reached despite the club providing the Premier League with overwhelming evidence and legal opinions that PIF is independent and autonomous of the Saudi Arabian government.The club and its owners do not accept that Premier League chief executive Richard Masters and the Premier League have acted appropriately in relation to this matter and will be considering all relevant options available to them.Mike Ashley understands fans’ frustrations and would like to reassure them that he has been fully committed to ensuring this takeover process reached completion as he felt it was in the best interests of the club. Mike continues to be fully supportive to Steve Bruce, the players and all the staff and wishes them well for the upcoming season." - Source
“The Premier League was disappointed and surprised by the Newcastle United Football Club statement regarding its potential takeover by PCP Capital Partners, the Reuben Brothers and the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia (PIF).
“The club’s assertion that the Premier League has rejected the takeover is incorrect.
“The Premier League Board has, on a number of occasions, given its opinion about which entities it believes would have control over the club should the consortium proceed with the acquisition. That opinion is based on legal advice.
“This means the potential takeover could proceed to the next stage should the relevant entities provide all appropriate information. They would then be subject to a suitability assessment by the Board. As an alternative, the Board has repeatedly offered independent arbitration as a way forward since June.
“It is also incorrect to suggest these decisions were taken by any individual; they were agreed unanimously by all Premier League Board members.” - Source
“With a deep appreciation for the Newcastle community and the significance of its football club, we have come to the decision to withdraw our interest in acquiring Newcastle United Football Club,” it read. “We do so with regret, as we were excited and fully committed to invest in the great city of Newcastle and believe we could have returned the club to the position of its history, tradition and fans’ merit.“Unfortunately, the prolonged process under the current circumstances coupled with global uncertainty has rendered the potential investment no longer commercially viable. To that end, we feel a responsibility to the fans to explain the lack of alternatives from an investment perspective.“As an autonomous and purely commercial investor, our focus was on building long-term value for the club, its fans and the community as we remained committed to collaboration, practicality and proactivity through a difficult period of global uncertainty and significant challenges for the fans and the club.“Ultimately, during the unforeseeably prolonged process, the commercial agreement between the Investment Group and the club’s owners expired and our investment thesis could not be sustained, particularly with no clarity as to the circumstances under which the next season will start and the new norms that will arise for matches, training and other activities.“As often occurs with proposed investments in uncertain periods, time itself became an enemy of the transaction, particularly during this difficult phase marked by the many real challenges facing us all from Covid-19“We feel great compassion for the Newcastle United fans with whom we shared a great commitment to help Newcastle United harness its tremendous potential and build upon its impressive and historic legacy while working closely with the local community.“We would like to say that we truly appreciated your incredible expressions of support and your patience throughout this process. We are sorry it is not to be. We wish the team and everyone associated with it much good luck and success.” - Source
“I’m absolutely devastated, I’m so upset, I don’t know how to express it. I’m heartbroken. I can barely speak. I believe we weren’t just the right partners for Newcastle, we were the only partners. I don’t want to give up. What would you do?”“The Premier League wanted the country, Saudi, to become a director of the football club. That’s what this is about. They were effectively saying ‘PIF wouldn’t be the ultimate beneficial owner, we believe it’s actually the government, therefore we want the country to become a director’, which puts them in an impossible situation. They feel they weren’t wanted by the Premier League.“I hope the fans realise what’s happened, that this is a lot more complicated than it might seem. I want them to understand the whole thing about the directorship, that it would be impossible for a state to become a director. The Premier League made it so hard. It would be unprecedented. No country has ever become a director of a club. It’s ridiculous.“They were saying ‘you know what, we won’t reject you but we won’t approve you either, so we’ll just sit here for month after month’. They could have told us all this before we exchanged. It’s up to the fans now. Because if the fans want this back on then they’re going to have to go to the Premier League and say this isn’t fair.“We had a plan for £250 million of investment in the club over the first few years, as much as we could put in, and on top of that, we had massive plans to invest in the city, in housing, everything. We talked with the council. Newcastle are the last great untapped club. The last great club with so much potential to grow and improve and with a fanbase who were already there and who wanted it so much. I fell in love with Newcastle. I fell in love with the passion, the fans. It was just this incredible club and I knew that with investment and nurturing it could become even better. It needed TLC. It needed a patient owner. It desperately needs investment. That day we first walked into St James’…it felt like we had come home.“We knew what they needed. We wanted it, too. And I know we could have done it.” - Source
"I have to assume I will stay running this football club. There are no offers. Define an offer. I'm not a believer any more. Peter Kenyon convinced me last Christmas that it was going to get done. I'm never doing that again. I think I could own this football club for ever. That is my new mental state. The reality is with these deals that once it gets out, if it's not done, it's probably not going to get done.
'The day someone buys Newcastle, they'll do their due diligence - and finished. It will happen like Manchester City. By the time the media find out, it's already complete. There's no need for a delay with Newcastle. It is, honestly, a very well-run football club.
'The last bid, the one from UAE, he's a prince and he's got £38bn or £100bn, all these numbers — well, why would you even care what you're paying then? What difference would £10m either way make? You would want speed, you would want certainty, you would want the keys and to get on with it.
'I will not stand in the way of Newcastle United. I will not stop that, if it happens. If such a person comes along I will think I've done quite a good job and I will want to keep going to watch them. I'll keep a box, because my parents will demand it. Every time there's a story that I've sold, I get the phone call. "You haven't included our box in the sale?" When you own a football club, the whole family are in.' - Source
Bin Zayed Group
"In response to the numerous reports in the world media this morning, we would like to comment as follows, we can confirm that representatives of His Highness Sheikh Khaled Bin Zayed Al Nahyan are in discussions with Mike Ashley and his team, about the proposed acquisition of Newcastle United Football Club. We view it as an honour to have the opportunity to build on the strong support, history and tradition of the club. We have agreed terms and are working hard to complete the transaction at the earliest opportunity." - SourceBin Zayed Group
"In consideration of the numerous speculations in regards to the timelines of the acquisition of Newcastle United Football Club by Bin Zayed Group, we feel the need to issue this statement. Terms have been agreed between us and Mike Ashley; these terms have been reflected in a document, signed by both parties, which has been forwarded to the Premier League. The proof of funds statement was forwarded to Mike Ashley’s lawyers on 17 April 2019. The so called fit-and-proper Premier League process is a standard procedure which will take time, and we are doing all we can to assist the Premier League during this process. We feel the need to clarify this point in order for the fans and the general public to understand the timelines." - Source
"As a result of the [£33m loan] repayment, the amount due to the owner now stands at £111m, all of which is considered, by the owner, to be long term in nature having been in place for over a decade, and repayable only in the event of the sale of the club. - Source
"I know I speak for both of us in that we continue to share a serious determination to finalise the agreement we have to suit both parties as soon as possible in the new year. We have both spent many months discussing the parameters of a final deal and as you know we have also invested heavily in time and money on our various legal and financial advisors. And I appreciate the time and effort committed to the detailed discussions by your advisors, lawyers, club, and, of course, yourself. I fully respect your desire to ensure the next owners of Newcastle United understand the club, football, and have the appropriate financial resources, and I am delighted that you think the investor group led by myself is the best fit. On my side, I would like to personally assure you that I am committed to conclude our deal as soon as possible and, while we are both perhaps frustrated that we have not progressed as quickly as we would have wished, I would like to express personal gratitude for your patience and integrity in this matter and hope we can continue our discussions in the same spirit." - Source
"I am hopeful – for the Newcastle fans, for the club, for everybody, that I will be able to step aside and we will be able to get an owner in that will please everybody. I'd like it to be before the January transfer window. It's possible. Realistic is maybe too strong a word. Hopefully, we can carry on the good form – the just recent good form – and we can get the deal done. [Talks are] Not exclusive. But talks are at a more progressed stage than they have ever been. Yes I'm very keen to sell it to the right buyer so that everybody's happy, That would be good news." - Source
The club remains for sale. The club has a very clear and reasonable process for individuals or groups who express an interest in purchasing the club. There has not been a lot of serious interest and a sale is not close as it stands. The owner wants a fair price and has been open to the dating of payments to achieve a sale. In addition the buyer must be someone, or a group, that can take the football club forward and support it financially better than he can. It is important to disclose that there have been groups who have expressed an initial interest, but who have been discouraged with proceeding due to the visibility and scrutiny that comes with the football club. Anything around the sale will come from the club rather than other sources. - Source
“It is only right to let the fans know that there is no deal on the table or even under discussion with Amanda Staveley and PCP. Attempts to reach a deal have proved to be exhausting, frustrating and a complete waste of time" - SourceAmanda Staveley
“I’m very much still interested in buying Newcastle, and our [£350m] bid remains on the table. I’m very concerned, I’m very surprised and I’m disappointed about what’s been said this week. The suggestion that we were either wasting time or not serious is absurd. It’s hurtful. Hugely hurtful. This is something we’ve been working really hard on. It’s not something we’ve just thrown together. I’m putting a lot of my own capital into this and our investors, who come from around the world, include sovereign wealth funds." - Source
St James Holdings Statement
"As a result of increasing press speculation regarding the future of Newcastle United, the owner of the club, St. James Holdings Limited, wishes to clarify its intentions. As one of the Premier League's oldest and best supported football clubs - and for the benefit of its many fans and supporters in the UK and across the world - Newcastle United requires a clear direction and a path to a bright and successful future. To give the club the best possible opportunity of securing the positioning and investment necessary to take it to the next level, at what is an important time in its history, its present ownership has determined that it is in the best interests of Newcastle United and its fans for the club to be put up for sale. To give an incoming owner the maximum possible flexibility to make meaningful investment in the club, including in its playing squad, the sale process will give interested parties the opportunity of deferring substantial payments. A process will now commence of identifying new ownership for the club that will be capable of delivering the sustained investment in and dedication to the club that is necessary for it to achieve its ambitions" - Source
Ashley interviewed on Sky Sports
What is your ambition now?To win something definitely, and by the way, I shall not be selling it until I do.
So the club’s not for sale?Not at any price. When I say win something, if we ever get in the position of a Champions League place, that also qualifies as winning something. - Source
NUFC club statement banning the Daily Telegraph following reports the club was back up for sale
Newcastle United has today banned the Daily Telegraph with immediate effect following a report published in its paper yesterday (Thursday, 11th September), headlined 'Newcastle United For Sale As Ashley Eyes Rangers', as well as a follow-up article from the same reporter which appears in the Daily Telegraph today (Friday, 12th September).September 2011
The reports by Luke Edwards on 11th September, and again today (12th September), are wholly inaccurate and written with the intention of unsettling the Club, players and its supporters.
This is disgraceful journalism for which the Club and its supporters should receive a full and unreserved apology from those concerned.
The truth is Mike Ashley remains committed to Newcastle United.
For the avoidance of doubt, this means that for the remainder of this season and AT LEAST until the end of next season, Mike Ashley will not, under any circumstances, sell Newcastle United at any price.
The Club cannot be stronger in stating its position on this matter.
It is not acceptable for newspapers to print factually inaccurate reports that are damaging to the Club and to fail to check facts with Newcastle United ahead of publication and then expect to receive access to the Club.
Newcastle United will not tolerate this and will take such action as it deems appropriate.
The ban extends to all reporters working for, or freelancing on behalf of, the Daily Telegraph, as well as Luke Edwards in any capacity he may have working for the paper's sister title or on a freelance basis. - Source
Derek Llambias Interview
Is Ashley considering putting the club up for sale?
"MIKE Ashley has no intention of putting the club up for sale. He is still extremely passionate about strengthening the club and making it a real success. We are balancing the books and getting the finances in order, but there’s plenty more work to be done and he’s committed to doing that for the long-term.
"That said, it’s worth going back to the analogy of the house that’s not for sale. If suddenly an incredible offer comes in, he may have to consider it.
"From time to time we are approached by people claiming to have an interest in buying the club. Our message to them is clear: buy a box for a commitment of five-seasons and then we’ll know you’re serious. No-one’s taken us up on that offer!
"I’d like to make a further point here. This club can’t support itself without the financial backing of Mike Ashley; we still rely heavily on the owner. To date Mike has invested over £280m into the club, including £140m in interest-free loans. For him to continue to support the club, he has to be interested and enthused to do so. He deserves credit for his financial support but a section of supporters don’t make him feel welcome at St James’ Park, or when he attends away games. Criticism is part and parcel of the job, abuse is not. This makes life uncomfortable and certainly doesn’t make Mike feel more inclined to put his hand once again in his pocket. That’s not stubbornness, it’s human nature. I think most of us would feel exactly the same." - Source
"We did receive several bids that met the £100m asking price but, despite giving all parties involved our full support in their attempts to push the sale through, only two of those parties completed the due diligence process and reached the sale purchase agreement stage.
"Once those documents were in place, the necessary funding required to complete the sale of the club never actually materialised. So while there were bids on the table, when it came to the crunch none of the bidders actually came up with the agreed funds." - Source
"Barry Moat has been driving me mad for two years. If he wants to buy the club, he's got a one-off opportunity to come up with the cash - £80m upfront. I have to put £20 million a year into the club - I spend more than every other fan put together puts into the club each year. If you can't pay upfront to buy the club, you can't afford it." - Source
"[The suggestion an official bid has been lodged is] not true." - SourceJonathon Brill:
"Discussions are ongoing" - SourceNUFC Statement:
“The £100M asking price has been matched, however, we are still in negotiations and all parties involved are at sale and purchase stage.” - Source
Derek Llambias when Barry Moat was revealed as a potential buyer
"We would love to be able to expand further on the sale and managerial position at the club, but we're very sorry we're unable to make any further comment at the present time." - SourceDerek Llambias later
"'We're in negotiations with Barry. [The deal is] there or thereabouts." - SourceNewcastle spokesman:
"There will be an update on the situation on Monday." - SourceClub statement:
"Newcastle United Football Club confirms that it has extended its deadline to Barry Moat to table an offer for the Club.The extension has been granted in order to allow Barry Moat and his advisors to conclude funding arrangements with Barclays, current bankers, for the continuation of last season's £39m facility.This would allow a formal offer to be tabled." - Source
"There have been more than two bids at £100m" - SourceDerek Llambias again:
"I can say we are very close to completing a deal and it could happen next week." - Source
Club Statement officially announces the club is for sale:
"The board of Newcastle United can today confirm that the club is for sale at the price of £100million. Interested parties should contact Newcastle United (or Keith Harris at Seymour Pierce) for further details. The club will not be making any further comment at the present time." - SourceDerek Llambias talks up interest:
"There are three or four interested parties who we are talking to. They don't want to be known just yet. That is how we are trying to do business. That is the proper way to do it, not by talking through the media." - Source
Ashley quoted by the times following relegation announces he is selling the club
"It has been catastrophic for everybody. I've lost my money and I've made terrible decisions. Now I want to sell it as soon as I can." - Source
Mike Ashley's programme notes announce he is not selling the club
"I have withdrawn Newcastle United from the market, and for me 2009 will be the year in which we drive the Club forward together. Even when I haven't been at games I have remained a keen supporter, kicking and heading every ball and cheering the team on TV and being the first to congratulate Joe whenever there's a good result. When I took the decision to put the Club up for sale in September I made a point of saying two things were very important. Firstly, any potential buyer would have to show they had the best interests of Newcastle United at heart and had both the commitment and finance to be worthy custodians of such a fine football club before I would even consider doing a deal. And secondly, I gave you my word that as long as I remain owner, this Club would continue to be run responsibly at all levels. I hope you will accept that I have stood by that pledge." - Source
In a statement following the departure of Kevin Keegan and protests from supporters, Ashley announces the club is for sale
"I am putting the club up for sale. I hope that the fans get what they want and that the next owner is someone who can lavish the amount of money on the club that the fans want." - Source
In an interview with the club magazine, Mike Ashley made the case for other investors coming into the club.
"I'd like to start with people in the North East because there are some great people who come to our matches who sit in the corporate areas, and wouldn’t it be great to have local backing for what we are doing? Some of them would talk to me last season and say, "Mike, is there an opportunity for us to come into the club again because we were shareholders in the plc previously?" I'd tell them we'd look at it at the end of the season as there was no rush but why wouldn't I welcome people who wanted to invest?" - Source