Daily Mail

Ash­ley: Toon sale at ad­vanced stage

- By CRAIG HOPE @CraigHope_DM Premier League (England) · Soccer · Sports · Soccer Business · Newcastle United Football Club · Newcastle upon Tyne · United Kingdom · Abu Dhabi · Manchester United F.C. · Manchester · Chelsea F.C. · Arthur Blank · Atlanta · Atlanta United FC · Rafael Benítez · Rafael Nadal · Peter Kenyon · Atlanta Falcons

MIKE Ash­lEy says New­cas­tle United could have new own­ers be­fore Jan­uary with takeover talks at an ad­vanced stage.

The sports re­tail ty­coon re­vealed on live tele­vi­sion last night that he is hope­ful of sell­ing the club in the com­ing weeks, hours af­ter he ap­peared in front of MPs at a par­lia­men­tary se­lect com­mit­tee to ex­plain how he could save the UK high street.

sources close to Ash­ley have long in­sisted that £300mil­lion up front would be enough to buy the club but no party — in­clud­ing Amanda stave­ley and PCP Cap­i­tal Part­ners, who acted for the Abu Dhabi royal fam­ily, 12 months ago — has ever come close to meet­ing his val­u­a­tion, un­til now.

Given that his pref­er­ence is not to con­duct takeover busi­ness in pub­lic, there is a strong chance that this is a tac­tic to hurry along in­vestors, es­pe­cially as sources have sug­gested there is more than one group who have ex­pressed in­ter­est in re­cent weeks.

They say an un­named in­vest­ment fund are among those suit­ors but they have not signed a non-dis­clo­sure agree­ment.

Ash­ley said: ‘I am hope­ful for the New­cas­tle fans, for the club, for ev­ery­body, that I will be able to step aside and we will be able to get an owner in who will please ev­ery­body. I’d like that to be be­fore the Jan­uary trans­fer win­dow. It’s pos­si­ble. “Re­al­is­tic” is maybe too strong a word.

‘We are not in ex­clu­sive talks but they are at a more pro­gressed stage than they have ever been.’

Sports­mail re­ported in Oc­to­ber that a group of Amer­i­can busi­ness­men were in­ter­ested in buy­ing New­cas­tle, ri­valling the con­sor­tium be­ing put to­gether by the for­mer Manch­ester United and Chelsea chief ex­ec­u­tive, Peter Kenyon.

But the iden­tity of the party Ash­ley has spo­ken about re­mains a mys­tery and his rev­e­la­tions on sky News even caught some of those close to him on the hop.

One name which has been do­ing the rounds is that of Arthur Blank, the owner of the Atlanta Fal­cons of the NFl and the Mls fran­chise Atlanta United. The 76-year-old is said to be worth nearly £4bil­lion.

sup­port­ers have re­acted with scep­ti­cism to the news, given the prox­im­ity to the Jan­uary trans­fer win­dow, but they are also hope­ful that de­vel­op­ments could lead to a quick sale and funds for man­ager Rafa Ben­itez to in­vest in the new year.

There was no com­ment from New­cas­tle United.

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