Retail tycoon Mike Ashley is in talks to sell Newcastle United football club to a consortium including Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund for £340m.
The billionaire owner of Sports Direct – recently renamed Frasers Group – bought Newcastle United in 2007 but is now in talks with a group led by British financier Amanda Staveley to sell the Premier League club.
The talks with the group, which includes Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, are at an early stage and could collapse, Reuters reported.
The football club has been for sale for a number of years, and Staveley’s company PCP Capital Partners previously made a £250m bid before talks fell apart.
Last year, it was reported that Sheikh Khaled bi Zayed Al Nehayan was close to buying the team, but no deal went ahead.
Ashley has proved to be unpopular with Newcastle United fans, as thousands of supporters have boycotted matches this season to protest his ownership.
Fans have also travelled to protest outside the retailer’s shareholder meetings.
Ashley’s retail group announced earlier this month that it is planning to close six Jack Wills stores, after it bought the brand out of administration last year.
The company said some landlords have not “been as helpful as others”, forcing some stores to close.
Frasers Group has also called on the government to urgently reform the business rates system. Finance chief Chris Wootton wrote to the Prime Minister last month asking him to reform the transitional relief system to prevent further House of Fraser closures.