Prospective Newcastle buyer Sheikh Khaled: I’ve provided proof of funds

Sheikh Khaled Bin Zayed Al Nahyan has insisted he has provided proof of funds in his bid to buy Newcastle.

The Dubai-based businessman sparked excitement on Monday when he claimed to have “agreed terms” with current owner Mike Ashley and was working to “complete the transaction at the earliest opportunity”.

Sources on Tyneside were quick to insist that – while talks had taken place over a deal understood to be worth in the region of £350million – any sale was some way from being finalised, sparking scepticism over Sheikh Khaled’s ability to push home his interest.

However, the Bin Zayed Group, of which he is chairman, moved to clarify his position with a statement issued to Press Association Sport on Wednesday.

It said: “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 April 17 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.”

Newcastle supporters could be forgiven for remaining guarded with a series of previous attempted takeovers launched – since Ashley put the club on the market for the third time in October 2017 – having come to nothing.

Amanda Staveley’s PCP Capital Partners saw a series of bids rejected, while a consortium led by former Manchester United and Chelsea chief executive Peter Kenyon was unable to raise the funds after also agreeing a price.

In addition, Ashley had held talks with several other parties and is understood to be engaged in ongoing dialogue with other parties as well as Sheikh Khaled as he looks to offload the club he bought for £134.4million in 2007.

Insiders have always been adamant that no prospective buyer has yet satisfied the sportswear magnate, who has previously offered to accept payment in instalments, that they have the finances in place to complete a sale.

However, Sheik Khaled’s claim that he provided proof last month raises fresh questions.

Newcastle have so far refused to comment publicly on this week’s developments, although sources have indicated that they have done little to alleviate the uncertainty over manager Rafael Benitez’s future with talks over a new contract yet to be concluded.

Benitez’s current deal is due to expire on June 30 and the prospect of any takeover being completed by that date seems remote.

The Premier League declined to comment when contacted by Press Association Sport. Newcastle have also been asked to comment.