The Mail’s Martin Samuel is sounding ‘alarm bells’ in his latest article about Mike Ashley and takeovers. Samuel infamously interviewed Ashley in the wake of Rafa Benitez’s departure last June.
During that ‘interview’, Ashley spoke about the reported interest of BZG, which had been brewing in some quarters of the press during late May and the month of June. This is what Ashley said at the time:
“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.”
Samuel seems to reference these remarks by Ashley in his latest article.
This time around, Samuel seems skeptical of claims that a deal has been agreed between Mike Ashley and the Amanda Staveley-led consortium, as recent reports are claiming.
Samuel wastes no time in his latest piece to take a shot at Amanda Staveley, who he claims Ashley sees as a time waster and self-publicist. He doubts that Ashley would concede defeat to Staveley and sell for less than his asking price of £340m.
The consensus this week seems to be that the agreed price between the two parties is £300m and not the £340m that has generally been reported as Ashley’s asking price.
It’s also been claimed that this agreement was reached last week and that everything now rests in the hands of the Premier League, who are conducting their owners’ and directors’ tests.
However, Samuel channels his previous interview with Ashley to cast some doubt that what has been reported is accurate. This is what he writes:
The Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia has total estimated assets of £256billion. The difference between the £340m Mike Ashley wants for Newcastle and the £300m believed to be on offer, is 0.015 per cent of that wealth. And that is what has been holding this up?
The equivalent of £4.50 to a person earning £30,000 annually. Roughly the price of a pint of beer. Alarm bells, alarm bells.
The issue that he is raising is similar to what Ashley stated in his June interview about the Bin Zayed Group – If they are so wealthy and keen, what does a little more money matter to seal the deal?
We’re not sure how to take this since Samuel is a go-to journalist for Ashley. However, it doesn’t appear that he has been in contact with the current Newcastle owner.
Though, Samuel throws a very problematic spanner into the works with a scenario that would be typical of Ashley. The following scenario that Samuel raises does concern us a bit:
Some interpret Ashley’s silence as confirmation a deal is nearing conclusion and he is doing nothing to jeopardise it, happy to get his £300m amid a huge economic downturn. That would make sense.
A more cynical interpretation is that Ashley is letting the deal proceed, placing no obstacles in its path, allowing the papers to be lodged with the Premier League until the moment he can look his suitors in the eye and tell them, ‘Right, show me the money.’
Samuel’s contention is that Mike Ashley could have agreed to a £300m deal only to renege at the last minute and demand an additional £40m for it to be finalized.
We sincerely hope this will not be the case and that Mike Ashley has finally agreed to release Newcastle United from his fiendish grip. However, we can never rest assured until that has officially occurred.