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Last Updated: Thursday, 7 June 2007, 07:20 GMT 08:20 UK
Ashley to take over Newcastle Utd
Mike Ashley
Ashley purchased the Hall family's stake for 55m
Billionaire businessman Mike Ashley is set to take control of Newcastle United after chairman Freddy Shepherd agreed to sell his 28% stake in the club.

Mr Ashley, who runs the Sportsworld chain and Lillywhites, is to pay 37.6m for the shares - a move that values the club at 131m.

Last month his company, St James Holdings, bought 41.6% of the club's shares from Sir John Hall's family.

He now has about 70% of the shares, and needs 75% to trigger a full takeover.

The Newcastle United board has urged other shareholders to accept Mr Ashley's 101 pence-per-share offer.

Mr Shepherd, who is expected to stay on at the club in some capacity, said that Mr Ashley and his company would be "excellent custodians of Newcastle United's heritage".

"They will provide the best opportunity for the club to flourish in the future, to the benefit of the company and its fans", he added.

Rich history

Newcastle have been trying to improve their position in the Premiership and fans have been getting increasingly frustrated with the team's performance.

Sam Allardyce recently replaced Glenn Roeder as manager of the club.

It was the third managerial change the Magpies have undergone in less than three years.

This season the club finished just five points above the relegation zone, having set a target of a European spot at the start of the campaign.

Michael Owen
England forward Michael Owen is one of Newcastle's top stars

The club has a rich history, having won the FA Cup on six occasions and the league title four times, but it has failed to win any major silverware for 38 years.

Mr Ashley will become one of a number of large investors who have been buying stakes in English and Scottish football clubs - that have included Manchester United, Liverpool, Aston Villa and West Ham.

His approach is not the first that has targeted the club.

Last year the Belgravia Group investment fund said it was considering a bid - but then dropped its plans in January, saying it had failed to agree a price and transaction structure.

Meanwhile, in December last year, hedge fund Polygon tried to take over the club, but pulled out of negotiations a month later.

In October 2006, Newcastle United announced a 12m financial annual loss after heavy investment in players and a fall in revenues as a result of its failure to qualify for Europe.

Profile: Mike Ashley
23 May 07 |  Business
Shepherd shocked by Newcastle bid
24 May 07 |  Newcastle United
Newcastle get 133m buyout offer
23 May 07 |  Business


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