NEWCASTLE UNITED are still on track to be taken over by Sheikh Khaled bin Zayed Al Nahyan despite contradictory claims over how far on the proposed £350m deal is, sources from the Middle East insist.

The Magpies hope to be a little clearer by the end of the week as to when Mike Ashley can expect to sell, although Sheikh Khaled does claim to have made significant progress even if it still looks some way off.

A fresh statement was issued by the Bin Zayed Group outlining how “proof of funds” was forwarded to Ashley’s lawyers in mid-April.

That was a move to knock down suggestions Sheikh Khaled has not provided evidence so far, and the Bin Zayed Group are also adamant they are in touch with the Premier League.

Bin Zayed Group’s managing director Midhat Kidwai said: “In consideration of the numerous speculations in regards to the timelines of the acquisition of Newcastle United Football Club by Bin Zayed Group, we feel the need to issue this statement.

“Terms have been agreed between us and Mike Ashley; these terms have been reflected in a document, signed by both parties, which has been forwarded to the Premier League.

“The proof of funds statement was forwarded to Mike Ashley’s lawyers on April 17, 2019.

“The so called fit-and-proper Premier League process is a standard procedure which will take time, and we are doing all we can to assist the Premier League during this process.

“We feel the need to clarify this point in order for the fans and the general public to understand the timelines.”

Newcastle manager Rafa Benitez is waiting to hear what the future holds at St James’ Park and there have been suggestions a deal will not be in place before his contract is due to expire on June 30. He is expected to stay in charge if the deal goes through.

While that could well be the case, the Bin Zayed Group statement certainly suggests they are looking for things to move forward – like a few days ago when they stated they wanted to conclude “at the earliest opportunity”.

Sheikh Khaled is known to have been in talks with Ashley and the terms of a £350m deal have been agreed, according to the Bin Zayed Group.

There have since been claims and counter-claims and there have been scepticism doubting when and if the takeover will take place. Sources at Newcastle have claimed there has not been an official bid.

Sheikh Khaled is a member of the United Arab Emirates’ ruling family and wants to become the latest Gulf investor to buy a European club.

Ashley has had Newcastle up for sale for more than two years and there has been a number of bids during that time. He has been seeking a sale of over the £300m mark and deals with Amanda Staveley and Peter Kenyon have not materialised.

Sheikh Khaled is the chairman of the Bin Zayed Group, who are releasing updates via statements. He is Dubai-based and the Group, set up in 1988, have holdings in construction, energy and real estate, technology and finance.

Sources close to Bin Zayed Group suggest proof of funds was provided by three years’ audited financial results and sent for review by the English football authorities. There has been restructuring within the group and that affected cash flow in recent times at the Bin Zayed Group, although the Group is said to have emerged from that period and is ready to invest in a football club.

Sheikh Khaled graduated in business administration from Boston University and has completed a PHD in finance from Michigan State University. His personal wealth is unclear, but his family’s wealth is deemed to be around £150bn.