Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley is closing the club’s official retail store and has made all of his staff redundant, telling employees that it’s one of the conditions of their prospective buyers.
The Magpies have long been the subject of a potential £300m takeover from a Saudi consortium, although the deal has hit plenty of roadblocks along the way.
But the decision to close the Sports Direct owned Newcastle retail store points to a possible breakthrough in the takeover, as the Daily Mail reports that the closure is one of the Saudi’s conditions for buying the club.
Ashley informed staff members of the decision to close the shop on Monday, making them all redundant in the process. Sportswear brand Castore is set to become the club’s new supplier and when that deal becomes official, the club shop will exclusively sell their merchandise.
This decision to close the retail store has sparked suggestions that it is linked to the imminent arrival of new owners, as it will further end Newcastle’s association with Sports Direct, the company owned by Ashley.
It is believed that store staff received word of new ownership in a letter, explaining it was their choice to close the shop doors.
The £300m takeover bid hit the rocks in the summer, after the consortium led by Amanda Staveley and the Reuben brothers failed to pass the Premier League’s owners and directors test. The board were unable to determine a separation between the Saudi state and the country’s Public Investment Fund, meaning that the deal was blocked.
However, Staveley is believed to be committed to the deal and Ashley is hoping for the decision to be overturned on appeal. If he is successful, it would bring an end to a tough chapter in Newcastle’s history under the businessman’s 14-year reign.