Newcastle United could soon be owned by Sheikh Khaled Bin Zayed Al Nehayan of Abu Dhabi, if a Dhs1.65 million (£350m) deal with current owner Mike Ashley goes through.
Ashley has owned the Premier League club since 2007 but has been looking for a buyer, and reports now suggest that a sale to Sheikh Khaled is close to agreement.
Sheikh Khaled’s investment group, the Bin Zayed Group, confirmed his interest in buying the club.
“We view it as an honour to have the opportunity to build on the strong support, history and tradition of the club,” the group’s statement read.
“We have agreed terms and are working hard to complete the transaction at the earliest opportunity.”
Newcastle, managed by Rafael Benitez, finished 13th in the Premier League this season and have spent all but two seasons in the top flight of English football since 1992.
Ashley’s ownership has been controversial with the club’s fans who accuse him of underinvestment in the squad.
Previous attempts by Ashley to sell the club fell through, although the talks with Sheikh Khaled are the most advanced yet.
Even if Ashley agrees to deal, Sheikh Khaled will need to go through a Premier League Owners’ and Directors’ test, although he is reportedly keen to complete the sale as quickly as possible.
He missed out on a Premier League sale last year, when his Dhs9.3 billion (£2bn) bid to take over Liverpool FC fell through.
If his deal with Ashley goes through, it will be the latest in a series of takeovers of top European clubs by Middle East owners.
Sheikh Khaled’s cousin, Sheikh Mansour, brought Manchester City in 2008 and has seen them rise to dominate English football, with the club recently completing an unprecedented domestic treble of Premier League, FA Cup and League Cup titles.