Sky Sports’ Keith Downie shares the latest on the Newcastle United takeover

Newcastle United fans are eagerly looking forward to the end of owner Mike Ashley’s 13-year tenure at Saint James’ Park, but the £300 million takeover by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund continues to drag on.

A £17 million deposit is already with the Premier League, with the remainder of the funds to be transferred to Ashley once the takeover gets the thumbs up.

The owners’ and directors’ test on the would-be Newcastle owners is taking more time than expected, and Sky Sports’ Keith Downie reckons it could take weeks and even months, with the coronavirus pandemic making it hard to work out when there will be a breakthrough.

“In terms of the takeover going through, we’re pretty much at the final knockings. A lot of spade work has been done, certainly in the last two months, but even more so in the last couple of years,” Downie said on a special Sky Sports Football podcast.

“They have an agreement in place for a £300m takeover of the club by PCP Partners which is the consortium put together by Staveley. A deposit has been paid around £17m-£17.5m.

“It’s now with the Premier League. It’s been with the Premier League for a number of weeks now [for an owners’ and directors’ test] but that can happen, it can take weeks, it can take months.”

Despite concerns that new legal documents linking Saudi with pirate broadcaster BeoutQ could scupper the deal, it remains to be seen if that will be enough to stop Newcastle from being owned by PIF.

Some Premier League clubs could gang up to block the move, citing commercial concerns as a reason why the Newcastle takeover shouldn’t be ratified with the owners’ and directors’ test clearly stating that digital piracy is prohibited.

Moreover, consortiums keen on buying top-flight clubs mustn’t provide false, misleading or inaccurate information according to the test, and having denied owning BeoutQ, the PIF risk missing out on buying the Magpies if Premier League lawyers are able to prove beyond doubt that the Saudis indeed own the TV.