Newcastle ‘receive rival £350m takeover bid from American TV boss Henry Mauriss’ – if Saudi takeover falls through – The Sun

NEWCASTLE have received a £350million rival bid should the Saudi-backed takeover fail, according to reports.

It is alleged that American TV boss Henry Mauriss has been in talks with Toon's current owner Mike Ashley since last year.

In a report from the Mirror, a source said: "He’s a charitable and honourable man – and is desperate to become Newcastle’s new owner. It’s a genuine bid.

“He’s a successful player in the media world in America and has a big interest in English football.”

Any reported arrangement between Mauriss and Newcastle, though, is on the back-burner with Saudi Arabian ruler Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman in pole position.

However, the £300m Middle Eastern plot to buy the St James' Park club must still pass the Premier League's fit and proper person test before it is rubber stamped.

In addition, Bin Salman's cousin Prince Abdullah bin Musa'ad bought Sheffield United recently and the league have strict rules prohibiting one owner having influence on multiple clubs.

Any hitch with the takeover could allow Mauriss a chance to swoop.

The Saudi's human rights record is also thought to be making the Premier League nervous.

On the same day documents were lodged with Companies House, the 800th execution in Saudi Arabia since 2015 was announced.

The report adds that because Ashley is in an exclusivity period with the Public Investment Fund until early May, he cannot hold any further talks with Mauriss at this stage.

American Mauriss' offer was apparently brokered by Chris Ronnie, a disgraced close associate of Ashley.

Ronnie was jailed for four years in 2014 after a £1m fraud while in charge at Sports Direct rivals JJB Sports.

He is understood to have brought the Mauriss bid to Ashley – with whom he has a long relationship – in January and would have no further involvement if the bid was accepted.

Mauriss is believed to be keen on copying the model set by Liverpool's American owners John Henry and Tom Werner after they took the Reds back to the top of world football following their 2010 £360m purchase.

The ClearTV chief and Spurs fan, based in California, wants to emulate their strategy if he takes over at Newcastle.

A source added: “He has studied the way his fellow countrymen Werner and Henry have successfully rejuvenated ­Liverpool and made them one of the world’s dominant forces.

“There is the promise of ­significant investment not only in the squad but also the club’s academy. It’s a fantastic business plan.

“The investor has seen the way Liverpool’s owners have harnessed themselves with the local community and made it a team effort with everyone pulling in the same ­direction.

"Newcastle have a huge and loyal support. It’s a club with massive potential.”

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