AHEAD OF THE GAME: Mike Ashley’s links to Qatar threaten Newcastle’s Saudi takeover… while super agents Mino Raiola and Jorge Mendes refuse to meet with FIFA

  • Mike Ashley’s Frasers Group employ the Qatar National Bank as advisers 
  • The Saudi Public Investment Fund are behind a Newcastle United takeover bid
  • Saudi Arabia decided to cut off diplomatic relations with Qatar three years ago
  • Ole Gunnar Solskjaer drove himself to their Marbella training ground in an Audi
  • It was stark contrast to United’s club chief Ed Woodward arriving by a chauffeur 

The prospects for Saudi Arabia‘s proposed £340million takeover of Newcastle have not been helped by the fact that Mike Ashley is receiving financial advice from Qatar.

Ashley’s Frasers Group, which was known as Sports Direct until last year, employ the Qatar National Bank as their investment advisers, a fact that has not been lost on the Saudi Public Investment Fund who are behind the Newcastle bid. 

Saudi Arabia cut off diplomatic relations with Qatar three years ago and their blockade of the country continues.

Mike Ashley is receiving financial advice from Qatar and this is hurting a potential takeover

Mike Ashley is receiving financial advice from Qatar and this is hurting a potential takeover

Ole’s humble drive 

Visitors to Manchester United’s Costa del Sol training camp last week were surprised to see manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer driving himself to their Marbella training ground in an Audi, with assistant Mike Phelan in the passenger seat. 

Solksjaer’s humble method of transport contrasted with that of executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward, who arrived in a chauffeur driven Mercedes, which is unlikely to have endeared him to his critics among United’s fan base.

Sky to escape rap over rift with Celtic 

Sky Sports News are unlikely to face any action from Ofcom following a complaint from Celtic about an inaccurately translated interview with Rangers striker Alfredo Morelos, which referred to an allegation of racist abuse from Celtic fans during December’s Old Firm game which the Colombian international did not make.

Sky Sports apologised over inaccurate translation of Rangers' Alfredo Morelos in an interview

Sky Sports apologised over inaccurate translation of Rangers’ Alfredo Morelos in an interview

Sportsmail has learned that the racism allegations were only broadcast on the Sky Sports website and Ofcom do not have jurisdiction over digital output. 

Having previously made a public apology, Mark Alford, director of Sky Sports News, met Celtic’s chief executive and chairman this week to apologise in person for the mistranslation, which was provided by Morelos’s agent.

In an email sent to Sky Sports News staff this week Alford criticised ‘sub-standard journalism’ which ‘demeaned our brand and journalistic reputation’. 

Celtic reacted to the controversy by banning Sky Sports News from their briefings this week and from Wednesday’s match against Hearts, but the channel will be present at Sunday’s game at Aberdeen.

In the Sky Sports subtitles he is said to have accused Celtic supporters of racist behaviour

In the Sky Sports subtitles he is said to have accused Celtic supporters of racist behaviour

Blues reject TV approach 

Chelsea have rejected a pitch from a TV production company who wanted to make a documentary about the club’s Say No To Anti-Semitism campaign, a project which aims to educate the club’s fans and staff that is close to the heart of Roman Abramovich. 

As part of the project Chelsea have taken supporters to Auschwitz to educate them about the evils of anti-Semitism, which still appears to be a problem judging by the offensive songs sung by sections of the fan base. 

Chelsea remain committed to the campaign but say they are not looking to publicise it. The club have previously turned down fly-on-the-wall documentaries, such as Amazon’s All Or Nothing series, so their approach is consistent.

EFL up against familiar face 

The EFL will have a familiar opponent in their forthcoming disciplinary cases against Sheffield Wednesday and Derby, who have been charged with breaking spending rules in relation to the sale and lease-back of their stadiums.

Nick De Marco QC has been appointed by both clubs to work on their defences against charges that could lead to hefty points deductions, with Wednesday’s case set to be heard later this month.

The EFL will have a familiar opponent in their forthcoming disciplinary cases against clubs

The EFL will have a familiar opponent in their forthcoming disciplinary cases against clubs

Super agents refuse to meet FIFA 

Leading agents including Mino Raiola and Jorge Mendes are refusing to meet FIFA to discuss proposals for greater regulation of the industry, as they say they have not been properly consulted on plans for a five per cent cap on transfer fee commission. 

They are particularly unhappy that there are no agents on FIFA’s Football Stakeholders Committee, the body charged with coming up with the regulations.

Top agents including Mino Raiola are refusing to meet FIFA to discuss regulation proposals

Top agents including Mino Raiola are refusing to meet FIFA to discuss regulation proposals




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