The Guardian’s Louise Taylor wrote the following, which should have Toon Army members around the world sighing with relief (at least until someone claims Cablevision wants to buy the club)
Suggestions that a company run by relatives of Osama bin Laden could be poised to buy Newcastle United were dismissed as “absolute nonsense” yesterday.
That two-word response from a club spokesman to inquiries about mooted takeovers is threatening to turn into a soundtrack to the close season at St James’ Park but Newcastle’s stock denial has been contradicted by another purported purchaser.
On Friday Newcastle maintained that reports of the club being offered to the New York-based finance company InterMedia Partners for £420m were “absolute nonsense” but a day later a spokesman for the US private equity firm made a conflicting statement. “InterMedia was approached about a deal, made no offer and has no interest,” he said.
With City of London sources repeatedly indicating that Mike Ashley, Newcastle’s owner and the billionaire founder of Sports Direct, is seeking a buyer for the club he bought only last summer, now would surely be an opportune moment for Ashley or Derek Llambias, Newcastle’s new managing director, to offer some public clarification as to their intentions. So far, though the silence from the boardroom has been not only deafening but confusing.
Twenty-four hours on from InterMedia’s admission of an approach from Tyneside, it was reported that the Saudi Binladen Group (SBG), a Jeddah-based, multinational construction company whose chief executive, Bakr bin Laden, is the half-brother of the world’s most wanted man, is pondering a potential £300m bid for Newcastle. Meanwhile the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA) is also believed to be considering making an offer.
The Bin Laden family distanced itself from the al-Qaida founder some time before Osama claimed responsibility for the events of September 11 2001 and SBG would comfortably pass the “fit and proper person” test required to satisfy the Premier League before English club takeovers are approved.