The Bin Zayed Group are claiming that their potential takeover of Newcastle United is nearing completion. The club themselves are still yet to comment on talks with the Abu Dhabi group.
Earlier this week, the group led by Sheikh Khaled bin Zayed Al Nehayan said talks were underway for a £350m (€400m) takeover for the Premier League club. While the club haven't gone beyond their willingness to find investment, the Bin Zayed Group told The Chronicle, "We have agreed terms and are working hard to complete the transaction at the earliest opportunity."
Responding to continued speculation over the Magpies' ownership, the Bin Zayed Group's managing director Midhat Kidwai says, "In consideration of the numerous speculations in regards to the timelines of the acquisition of Newcastle United Football Club by Bin Zayed Group, we feel the need to issue this statement.
"Terms have been agreed between us and Mike Ashley; these terms have been reflected in a document, signed by both parties, which has been forwarded to the Premier League.
"The proof of funds statement was forwarded to Mike Ashley’s lawyers on 17 April 2019.
"The so called fit-and-proper Premier League process is a standard procedure which will take time, and we are doing all we can to assist the Premier League during this process.
"We feel the need to clarify this point in order for the fans and the general public to understand the timelines."
While there is still no official word from Newcastle themselves, those close to the situation - including the Telegraph's Luke Edwards - are remaining cautious on the validity of the Bin Zayed Group's claims.
Have urged #nufc to formally respond to latest claims from Bin Zayed Group who are now effectively saying they’ve bought club and are waiting for clearance. This does not tally with anything I’ve been told in the last 48 hours. Also heard from PL More on @TeleFootball soon
— Luke Edwards (@LukeEdwardsTele) May 29, 2019
Sheikh Khaled is a 61-year old member of the Abu Dhabi royal family, and is a cousin of Manchester City owner, Sheikh Mansour. His interest in Newcastle is not the first time he's wet his toes in Premier League takeover talks, with a reported £2billion takeover of Liverpool failing last year.
Should the deal go ahead, it would increase talk of 'sportswashing', with Amnesty International claiming, "The UAE’s enormous investment in Manchester City is one of football’s most brazen attempts to ‘sportswash’ a country’s deeply tarnished image through the glamour of the game."
Another wrinkle to the story is that Newcastle manager Rafa Benitez is yet to sign a contract extension with the club, but it's reported the Bin Zayed Group's primary objective is to retain the Spaniard.