Staveley committed to club despite accusations from owner Mike Ashley that the Dubai financier is wasting his time
Staveley-led consortium won't walk away from Newcastle bid as long as Benitez is manager
The consortium trying to buy Newcastle United remains interested in the English Premier League club as long as Rafa Benitez is the side’s manager, the Dubai financier leading the bid said.
Negotiations, ongoing since October, have become fraught in recent days after hopes of a deal seemed to fade in the New Year with the parties unable to agree terms amid worries over how relegation from the Premier League would change the financial status of the club.
However, the PCP Capital Partners-led consortium remains a buyer of Newcastle until the summer at least, unless Benitez leaves. The Spaniard is doing a phenomenal job with an understrength squad, according to PCP’s chief executive Amanda Staveley. She has a long-standing admiration for Benitez, ever since her involvement in a previous attempt to buy Liverpool over a decade ago when he was the manager at Anfield.
"The three separate bids we put in, as they changed in October going into late November, all had one consistent part to them throughout and that is we must have Rafa remain as manager," Staveley said.
If Benitez were to leave the club, either before or at the end of the season, then PCP would potentially walk away from the deal, said Mehrdad Ghodoussi, PCP’s managing partner and Staveley’s husband.
“We would love to buy Newcastle. The fans are phenomenal, the club could be huge and a big success if run properly,” said Ghodoussi, a former investment banker. “You need a world class manager. If Rafa isn't there at the end of the season we would have to rethink this transaction."
On Wednesday, the sale appeared to already be on the rocks after a source close to Mike Ashley, Newcastle’s owner, told Sky Sports that there was no deal even under discussion with Staveley and PCP. The source said that “attempts to reach a deal with Amanda Staveley and PCP have proved exhausting, frustrating and a complete waste of time”.
PCP Capital Partners, however, insists it is in for Newcastle for the long haul. Even relegation from the Premier League would not alter the appetite for club - although the price would be impacted substantially - as long as Benitez remained manager.
The Spaniard has already experienced one relegation with Newcastle, taking them back up to the Premier League at the first attempt last season. He has appeared to be hyper focused on his job, as is his nature, but fans fear he could leave St James’ Park if a sale looks increasingly unlikely.
Newcastle are currently 15th in the table, just three points above the teams in the relegation zone. They play league leaders Manchester City away on Saturday evening.