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

REVEALED: Mike Ashley claims the £305m Saudi takeover of Newcastle was NOT the highest offer on the table – but controversial owner felt he ‘owed it to the fans’ to deliver the best future

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.

Mike Ashley has opened up on selling Newcastle and why he didn’t accept the highest offer

A Saudi consortium, led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, sealed a £305m takeover

A Saudi consortium, led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, sealed a £305m takeover

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.

For years, Newcastle fans have been protesting against Ashley, urging him to sell their club

For years, Newcastle fans have been protesting against Ashley, urging him to sell their club

Ashley felt he 'owed' it to fans to set them up for the best future despite their anger toward him

Ashley felt he ‘owed’ it to fans to set them up for the best future despite their anger toward him

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.’

More to follow. 

He ran Newcastle for 14 years and believes the Saudi bid offers the best bet for future success

 He ran Newcastle for 14 years and believes the Saudi bid offers the best bet for future success

Some supporters brought Saudi flags and others adopted the traditional attire of a Sheik

Some supporters brought Saudi flags and others adopted the traditional attire of a Sheik

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