Mauriss could be owner in time for next season
Newcastle United could still have a new owner before the start of next season as Henry Mauriss, an American businessman, believes he is now in pole position to buy the club after a proposed takeover by a Saudi Arabian-led consortium collapsed.
The Daily Telegraph understands that Mauriss has been confident for several weeks he would eventually succeed. Tellingly, his interest is not new, which suggests the chance of success is far higher. He first expressed a desire to buy Newcastle in November 2019, only to be briefly dissuaded from pursuing a deal by reports that Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund was behind a rival bid fronted by the financier Amanda Staveley.
A price of £350 million has already been agreed with Mike Ashley, the Newcastle owner. Negotiations have been speeding up since the start of the month, when the Saudi consortium lost its exclusivity. The sports shop billionaire is believed to be happy the funds are there for the transaction to be completed, but no timescale is being put on the takeover.
Ashley is understood to have effectively given up on the Saudi deal at the end of June and had lost confidence in Staveley over promises that the deal would be passed by the Premier League, despite the piracy issue, because PIF was a separate legal entity to the Saudi Arabian government. It was an argument, apparently, undermined by the fact that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the country’s de facto ruler, was chairman of the fund.
Nevertheless, it was still a surprise when Staveley released a statement yesterday saying her company, PCP Capital, and PIF had pulled out of their attempt to buy the club, as they had not informed anyone at Newcastle.
Although Mauriss was already at the table, their withdrawal gives him a clear shot and there is a growing sense he will be the owner before the start of next season.
Not much is known about the businessman, but The Telegraph has been assured by those close to the deal that he has a well-financed and well-planned project that includes the money to not only buy the club, but to invest in it. It is understood the loose business model will be based on the approach taken by Fenway Sports Group at Liverpool, with budgeted, gradual growth at the core of the mission statement.
Questions have been raised about the American’s lack of personal wealth, but he is not buying the club as an individual. Instead, ClearTV has raised the money, with Mauriss as chief executive driving the interest. He is expected to be the figurehead of the new regime but will also appoint a specialist team to run various departments.
The Telegraph has also been assured that as well as matching Ash
ley’s asking price, there will be additional investment in the team and club as a whole, with an emphasis on working with partners in the city to grow it into a far more competitive Premier League operation than it has been under Ashley.
There will also be no rush to find a new manager, as Steve Bruce will be given a chance to show what he can do with a larger transfer fund.
He will, though, have to prove himself quickly if the takeover goes through, as Mauriss sees Newcastle as a club who should be established in the top 10, challenging for European qualification.
Although attempts have been made to contact the American, who is based in California, Mauriss will not comment on the deal.