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Hated ex-Newcastle owner Mike Ashley set to buy iconic sporting venue and could slap Sports Direct branding on it

, Hated ex-Newcastle owner Mike Ashley set to buy iconic sporting venue and could slap Sports Direct branding on it

Controversial former Newcastle owner Mike Ashley is rumored to be purchasing Headingley, Yorkshire's iconic cricket stadium, and potentially branding it with the Sports Direct name.

What's the deal?

Just days after being linked to a bid for League One strugglers Reading, Ashley is expected to acquire the famous Test venue for a reported £23 million. Headingley has been the home of Yorkshire County Cricket Club since 1891 and has been hosting England cricket internationals since 1899.

Sports Direct branding?

The Mail reports that financially-stricken Yorkshire County Cricket Club has agreed to sell Headingley to Ashley, including naming rights for the next 10 years. It is speculated that the venue could potentially be adorned with branding from Ashley's retail chain, Sports Direct.

Close to a deal

Ashley is said to be close to finalizing a sale and lease-back arrangement, which would help Yorkshire clear their debts. The club is still facing repercussions from allegations of institutional racism made by former spin bowler Azeem Rafiq two years ago. However, Ashley's investment could enable the club to pay off the £15.9 million owed to the Colin Graves Trust.

, Hated ex-Newcastle owner Mike Ashley set to buy iconic sporting venue and could slap Sports Direct branding on it

About Mike Ashley

Ashley, a 59-year-old entrepreneur from Walsall, owned Newcastle United from 2007 to 2021. He recently sold the club to a Saudi consortium after facing years of hostility from fans. Ashley currently serves as the chief executive of Frasers Group Plc, previously known as Sports Direct International.

What's next for Yorkshire?

The Mail suggests that Yorkshire County Cricket Club may have an option to buy back the ground at a fixed price. However, if the sale goes through, the county will continue to play at Headingley as tenants, paying an annual rent of approximately £1 million.

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