MIKE ASHLEY has agreed to sell Newcastle for £350million to the cousin of Manchester City’s Arab owner Sheikh Mansour.
SunSport understands contracts have been signed and submitted to the Premier League between Ashley and Dubai-based billionaire Sheikh Khaled bin Zayed Al Nehayan.
Getty Images – Getty3 Mike Ashley has agreed to SELL Newcastle United for £350million
3 Sheikh Khaled bin Zayed Al Nehayan is the cousin of Man City's owner Sheikh Mansour
He is a senior member of the Abu Dhabi royal family and last year failed in a £2billion takeover of Liverpool.
Newcastle had been subject to previous but unsuccessful takeover attempts from the likes of Amanda Staveley and Peter Kenyon.
But Ashley has now decided to end his 12 years in control on Tyneside.
One of the Sheikh’s first jobs will be to tie down manager Rafa Benitez to a new contract.
He is ready to provide funds to bolster a limited squad that has done well to stay in the Premier League after years of underinvestment under Ashley.
Ashley first put the club up for sale in 2008 after Kevin Keegan walked away after a bust-up about transfers – which was the first of three times he tried to get rid of the club.
Who is Sheikh Khaled?
SHEIKH Khaled bin Zayed Al Nehayan is an Emirati member of the family who govern Abu Dhabi.
How’s he made his money?
HE established the Bin Zayed Group in 1988 and is among the most successful entrepreneurs in the Gulf states.
Does he have any football connection?
THE Sheikh attempted a record £2billion takeover of Liverpool in August 2018. He is also the cousin of Manchester City owner Sheikh Mansour — although not quite as rich.
And the Newcastle owner missed the chance to potentially sell to Sheikh Mansour after refusing to meet him in 2008 before he took over at Manchester City.
It appears Ashley is not allowing lightning to strike twice now with his cousin’s group.
Shaikh Khaled, 61, is president of the UAE Sailing and Rowing Federation but has always had a keen interest in football and loves the Premier League.
He is founder of the Bin Zayed Group – a leading group of businesses with diverse interests in the local and international markets.
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The Bin Zayed Group’s key activities comprise four business fields: construction and energy, trading and industry, real estate, technology and financial services.
Newcastle fans are desperate for success – having not won a major trophy since the Fairs Cup in 1969.
Ashley has had a toxic relationship with the fans – and angered them not just with his lack of funds for new signings but renaming St James’ Park, the Sports Direct Stadium, after his sportswear company.
EPA3 One of the Sheikh's first jobs will be to tie Rafa Benitez down to a new contract