Mike Ashley: the £305m Saudi takeover of Newcastle was NOT the highest offer

Mike Ashley: the £305m Saudi takeover of Newcastle was NOT the highest offer

The £305million takeover of Newcastle United by a Saudi consortium was not the highest offer on the table, Mike Ashley has revealed.

Backed by Saudi's Public Investment Fund, the takeover was ratified by the Premier League on Thursday and fans were seen leaping into each other's arms, throwing drinks into the air, dancing and singing club anthems.

It brings to an end Ashley's 14-year reign as owner and while fans routinely protested in a bid to force him out, he has opened up on why his decision to take the PIF offer was done in the best interests of Newcastle.

Ashley told the Sun: 'I would like it to be known that I received a higher offer for the club than the one that I accepted.

'It was from another reputable bidder, who made a credible case. But I felt the bid that we accepted from the current new owners would deliver the best for Newcastle United.

'Money wasn't my only consideration.'

Ashley stuck to this guns in his departing address despite being under immense pressure in recent years to sell up and leave the north east.

The Newcastle United Supporters' Trust, which has vocally campaigned against the Ashley regime, said a 'resounding' 96.7 per cent of its members wanted the Saudi consortium to take control.

In an open letter posted to Twitter, the NUST said 'for the first time in many years' Newcastle fans felt the new owners could help them realise their full potential.

The open letter read: 'For the first time in many years we believe our desire for an ambitious Newcastle United that strives to be the best it can be can be a reality under your ownership.

'We admire your desire and tenacity to buy our football club despite the protracted issues with the Premier League, and we appreciate your clear understanding of the special place that Newcastle United holds in our communities, the passion of our supporters and your commitment to developing Newcastle United.'

Ashley added: 'I've known for some time now that many Newcastle fans were frustrated by the situation and were in favour of a change.

'I therefore felt that I owed it to the fans to fight tooth and nail over the last 18 months or so to make this happen.'

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