LONDON • A report late on Sunday by The Sun claiming that owner Mike Ashley had agreed to sell Newcastle United to Abu Dhabi billionaire Sheikh Khaled bin Zayed Al Nehayan for £350 million (S$612 million) appears to have been premature, according to Sky Sports.
The British tabloid said the contract between Ashley and Khaled, who is a member of the Abu Dhabi ruling family and a cousin of Manchester City owner Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, had been signed and sent to the Premier League.
Reported price for the ownership stake in Newcastle United Football Club.
But broadcaster Sky yesterday revealed on its website that while Khaled "has held talks about buying Newcastle, there is some way to go for any deal to be agreed".
Ashley, who bought a controlling stake in the Premier League club in 2007, has in the past tried to sell the club, whose fans have been increasingly vocal against his ownership over the years.
The founder of British sportswear retailer Sports Direct International said last October that he had not received any acceptable offers for Newcastle, a year after he officially put the club up for sale.
However, he told Sky in December that talks on a deal had made promising progress, although he prefaced that by insisting "any potential buyer of the club must be able to provide transfer funds".
Khaled, who is also the founder of Bin Zayed Group, a leading conglomerate with diverse business interests from construction to energy, previously failed in his bid to buy Liverpool for £2 billion last year, according to the Daily Mail.
The Premier League and the Emirati's company did not immediately respond to Reuters' requests for comment.
Newcastle officials have also refused to reveal more, with a senior source telling the Daily Mail: "We would politely decline to comment at this time."
According to local daily The Chronicle, previous takeover bids from former Chelsea chief executive Peter Kenyon and British businesswoman Amanda Staveley had "collapsed despite both entering the due diligence stage".