Newcastle United manager Rafael Benitez will be handed £150m (€167m) to spend over the next two years if the Amanda Staveley-run PCP Capital Partners investment firm completes its takeover of the Premier League club.
Staveley's firm, which controls £28bn of funds from the Middle East and China, is one of four groups to have signed a non-disclose agreement – a contract that allows the free sharing of vital information – with the Toon but following meetings with the club's hierarchy she is considered the front-runner.
The British businesswomen met with Newcastle managing director Lee Charnley and Mike Ashley associate Justin Barnes after the 1-1 draw with Liverpool on 2 October to discuss the deal, before another meeting was held last weekend.
PCP value Newcastle at £300m but that assessment falls short of the £400m Ashley – also the chief executive of sportwear retailer Sports Direct – is demanding for the club. The 53-year-old has twice previously failed to sell the club, whom he had been prepared to retain until they won a piece of silverware.
But this week Ashley reiterated his intention to sell Newcastle just over a decade on from taking charge of the north east club in May 2007. During that period the club have been relegated twice, failed to win a major trophy and had eight permanent managers.
But Newcastle fans will have good reason to be optimistic ahead of Staveley's looming arrival, following news she is ready to back Benitez in the transfer market. Among the many criticisms labelled at Ashley has been his lack of investment in the playing squad, highlighted in Benitez's spell with the club having spent just £95m during his 19 months in charge.
The summer transfer window was littered with tales of failed signings and botched approaches for new players. Benitez vocalised his discontent with the situation, which even led to speculation he could resign just weeks into the 2017-18 campaign.
Reuters understand that as much as £150m will be given to Benitez to spend over the next two years. If a deal is struck before the New Year those funds could become available as early as the January transfer window, giving the Spaniard a much-needed opportunity to improve his squad.
Though Newcastle have won three of their eight Premier League games and occupy an early place in the top half, they remain a contender to be relegated from the top flight.