New­cas­tle takeover talks reach stale­mate

The Daily Telegraph - Sport - - Sport Football - By Luke Ed­wards

New­cas­tle United takeover talks have reached a stale­mate that could see the col­lapse of the bid from the

con­sor­tium, fronted by Amanda Stave­ley, to buy the club from cur­rent owner Mike Ashley.

Stave­ley had an of­fer of less than £300 mil­lion turned down more than a fort­night ago and has not re­turned with an im­proved of­fer since, de­spite be­ing told that she was nowhere near the ask­ing price with her ini­tial ap­proach. In­stead, there has been a slight change in the terms of pay­ment, with the money of­fered in one lump sum, rather than in per­for­mance-re­lated in­stal­ments. But the gap be­tween their re­spec­tive val­u­a­tions re­mains a huge bar­rier to a deal be­ing done.

Given that Stave­ley was told the open­ing bid was not thought

to be a se­ri­ous of­fer, the fail­ure to im­prove it has left any hopes that a takeover could be com­pleted to fade dra­mat­i­cally.

Ashley has even started to ques­tion whether Stave­ley is se­ri­ous about buy­ing the club be­cause of the lack of progress since the open­ing bid was made, al­though those close to Stave­ley in­sist that she is merely ne­go­ti­at­ing a fair price. Given Ashley’s track record in busi­ness, she may well be dis­ap­pointed be­cause he has rarely backed down.

As re­vealed by Tele­graph Sport, Ashley had been hop­ing ini­tial con­tact from an­other in­ter­ested party last week would lead to a ri­val bid, but those talks have also failed to

progress and Stave­ley’s of­fer re­mains the only one on the table.

A source close to the talks has told Tele­graph Sport that both Ashley and Stave­ley are re­fus­ing to budge and the deal could be wrecked by the fact that nei­ther wants to be seen to buckle.

A com­pro­mise price of around £300 mil­lion could be achieved, but at the mo­ment Ashley has

Play­ing hard­ball: Amanda Stave­ley re­fused to in­crease her con­sor­tium’s £300m of­fer stated he wants well in ex­cess of that fig­ure and is wait­ing for Stave­ley to make the next move.

In turn, Stave­ley has de­nied re­ports that she will walk away if he does not ac­cept the of­fer that is cur­rently on the table.

Ashley is frus­trated but he will not walk away from the ne­go­ti­a­tions at this stage, de­spite pre­vi­ously say­ing that if he did not find a buyer be­fore Christ­mas he would take the club off the mar­ket.

As man­ager Rafa Ben­itez con­tin­ues to push for money to be spent in the Jan­uary trans­fer win­dow, there will be pres­sure on Ashley to al­low him to strengthen if he does not sever ties in the New Year.

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