Newcastle United Agrees Ashley Takeover

British Premier League soccer club Newcastle United said on Thursday it had agreed to a cash takeover by retail entrepreneur Mike Ashley which valued the club around 134 million pounds ($267.3 million).

Ashley's firm St James Holdings said it had agreed a 101 pence per share cash offer for all the shares, including those of Chairman and major shareholder Freddy Shepherd which it did not already own.

Ashley, who owns the Sports World retail chain, had already bought the 41.6% stake of John Hall's family at 100 pence per share. Shares in Newcastle United closed at 97p on Wednesday.

Ashley's takeover of the north east of England club breaks a trend of foreign buyers acquiring Premiership teams.

Last season saw Liverpool, West Ham United and Aston Villa bought by overseas investors and followed Malcolm Glazer's controversial purchase of Premiership champions Manchester United and Roman Abramovich's takeover at Chelsea.

Overseas buyers are hoping to tap into the worldwide appeal of the richest soccer league, which is set to share record broadcasting revenue of 2.7 billion pounds over the next three years.

Former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who fled the country after a bloodless coup, is also expected to take over Manchester City this month.

Ashley, who set up St James Holdings to buy the club, said in a joint statement it had received a commitment to accept the offer from Newcastle Chairman Freddy Shepherd, who owns a 28% stake held by Shepherd Offshore Ltd in partnership with Bruce Shepherd and non-executive director Timothy Revill.

"The board believes that St James Holdings and Mike Ashley will be excellent custodians of Newcastle United's heritage and will provide the best possible opportunity for the club to flourish," Newcastle Chairman Shepherd said in a statement.

Ashley floated Sports Direct in February.