Craig Hope reveals Sheikh Khaled theory live on talkSPORT – More games from Mike Ashley?

Speaking on talkSPORT, north-east reporter Craig Hope has questioned whether Newcastle have used ‘interest’ from Sheikh Khaled to actually ‘accelerate’ a deal from another interested party.

While interest from the Dubai-based billionaire appears to have arrived, the Mail’s Craig Hope believes the club may be allowing this story to play out in public in a bid to ‘hurry along’ other interested parties who have signed NDA’s (non-disclosure agreements).

Here’s what he’s had to say (see clip below) when Micky Gray asked why a deal of this magnitude hasn’t been done in private and instead ‘spread around papers’ before it’s been ‘signed and sealed’:

“That leads me to believe that he fact the club aren’t denying this link and they seem to my knowledge to be more than happy for this story to be doing the round, is that there’s perhaps another group in the background, in the shadows, who are further down the line than we even know about.

“I don’t think it will be Amanda Staveley, I think it’ll be another group.

“But you know what, it wouldn’t surprise me if in the next fortnight we are completely blindsided and Newcastle United is sold, it’s not to Sheikh Khaled, it’s to someone who is in talks, who has honoured the NDA (non-disclosure agreement) who has gone through the proper process.

“That to my mind is perhaps why Newcastle United are happy for this story to have legs, because it’s set the asking price at £350m and any would-be buyer who was waiting in the shadows, waiting in the wings, will perhaps see this and it might hurry them along or accelerate another deal.

“But something about this (Sheikh Khaled) deal in isolation, the story over the past 36 hours, I’m sorry to say it but something just doesn’t ring true – and I hope I’m wrong, I really hope I’m wrong.”

The thought of more smoke and mirrors from the club will no doubt infuriate fans, although it does feel like something is going on.

Time will tell, but, for the sake of Newcastle United, us fans and Rafa Benitez, let’s hope this summer marks the end of Mike Ashley’s reign.

We can not afford to see another takeover-saga end in disappointment – especially in the midst of a make or break summer for Rafa Benitez.

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About Olly Hawkins

Olly has been a Junior Magpie from birth. As a season ticket holder and avid Newcastle United fan - he eats, sleeps and breathes all things NUFC.

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