Newcastle United looks set to be the next English Premier League club to be bought out after Mike Ashley, "one of Britain's wealthiest and most secretive businessmen" according to the Independent, purchased a 41.6 percent stake in the club for approximately $110 million. The stake was purchased from the club's biggest shareholder and life president Sir John Hall through a satellite company set up by Ashley. The Sunday Times' Philip Beresford, who compiles the paper's "Rich List," estimates Ashley's fortune at $3.77 billion, describing him as "easily Britain's answer to the late Howard Hughes."
At least he's British. Given the uproar in England surrounding the takeover of EPL clubs by wealthy foreign investors, Newcastle supporters will at least be able to take some solace from the fact that Ashley is a compatriot and soccer fan-unlike say, American owners such as the Malcolm Glazer family at Manchester United and George Gillett and Tom Hicks at Liverpool.
However, Ashley's Newcastle takeover is not a certainty. London stock exchange rules require that the billionaire make a cash offer for Newcastle's remaining shares, around 30 percent of which are owned by club chairman Freddy Shepherd, who last week said he wouldn't sell to a foreign investor, but would consider an offer from a "Geordie Abramovich," or a wealthy Newcastle fan. Ashley, a follower of the England team, would fall somewhere in the middle.