Mike Ashley is set to take control of Newcastle United after chairman Freddy Shepherd agreed to sell his 28% stake in the club.

Ashley, who runs the Sportsworld chain and Lillywhites and is ranked the 25th richest man in Britain, is to pay £37.6m for the shares – a move that values the club at £131m.

Two weeks ago Ashley bought the Hall family’s 41.6% holding in Newcastle for £55m before launching a £133.1m takeover bid. He was initially regarded by Shepherd with hostility but the pair have now reached a rapprochement.

He now has about 70% of the shares, and needs 75% to trigger a full takeover.

The Newcastle United board has urged other shareholders to accept Mr Ashley’s 101 pence-per-share offer.

Mr Shepherd, who is expected to stay on at the club as chairman, said that Mr Ashley and his company would be “excellent custodians of Newcastle United’s heritage”.

“They will provide the best opportunity for the club to flourish in the future, to the benefit of the company and its fans”, he added.