NEWCASTLE UNITED’S proposed Middle East takeover remains in place, with the wheels likely to be turning slower than anticipated.

While the Sunday evening leak of the possible sale by Mike Ashley to the Bin Zayed Group and news that a £350m takeover by Sheik Khaled bin Zayed Al Nehayan has been agreed raised hopes of a quick fix at St James’ Park, the reality is that the deal could yet take some time to get over the line.

While fans are desperate to see the back of Ashley, they are equally intent on making sure Rafa Benitez remains in charge.

His contract as manager comes to an end on June 30 and there’s every chance a new deal will have to be negotiated by the current regime

Scepticism has been on the rise in the last 36 hours, with doubts raised about Sheik Khaled’s ability to raise the required proof of funding when interested in buying Liverpool last year.

However, the Bin Zayed Group insist they are serious players in the market to buy Newcastle United and all that goes with it.

Benitez has been seeking assurances from Ashley and Lee Charnley not only over transfer budgets, but also the redevelopment of the club’s training base.

The owners of Manchester City have spent millions developing the Etihad Campus, a world-class facility for Pep Guardiola and his squad to train. The club’s Academy and women’s team are also based there.

Doubts were raised on Monday over claims that Sheik Khaled is as closely related to the City owners as was reported initially, but there is seemingly little doubt about their wealth and ability to fund a Tyneside takeover.

The Premier League has not received papers or literature needed to complete a deal, but they are aware of the strong possibility.

There has still been no statement of intent from St James’ Park, but sources are privately allowing the news to run without any denial.