Ash­ley open to joint con­sor­tium buy­out

Two groups are both backed by US money for po­ten­tial deal Toon ty­coon re­mains de­ter­mined to sell

Sunday Sun - - News - LEE RY­DER lee.ry­[email protected]­i­tymir­

Chief New­cas­tle United Writer NEW­CAS­TLE United owner Mike Ash­ley is open to the prospect of two of the in­ter­ested con­sor­tia join­ing forces.

The groups led by Peter Kenyon and Garry Cook are both backed by money from the USA, and the idea of them team­ing up to com­plete a takeover is now be­ing con­sid­ered af­ter be­ing put to them by Ash­ley.

Kenyon’s in­ter­est in tak­ing over from Ash­ley has been rub­ber-stamped by the emer­gence of a let­ter writ­ten by the ex-chelsea and Man United supremo last month.

In it he stated the group were “se­ri­ous” about tak­ing over the club af­ter nearly 12 years of Ash­ley on Ty­ne­side. New­cas­tle sources have con­firmed the let­ter is gen­uine and four groups are still said to be in the race in the eyes of Ash­ley and his ad­vi­sors.

How­ever, it was sug­gested it NEW­CAS­TLE United owner Mike Ash­ley re­mains de­ter­mined to sell the club to one of the in­ter­ested con­sor­tia af­ter keep­ing the lines of com­mu­ni­ca­tion open to all four of the groups that have ex­pressed an in­ter­est.

It is un­der­stood that Peter Kenyon’s let­ter to Ash­ley over the fes­tive pe­riod was made pub­lic with the con­sent of both the Toon ty­coon and the ex-manch­ester United and Chelsea supremo.

In­deed, both men were eager to show to the New­cas­tle pub­lic there was still a re­al­is­tic chance of a takeover in the new year and try to shut down ac­cu­sa­tions that a new owner is not a PR stunt.

How­ever, Kenyon must still come up with a sat­is­fac­tory of­fer and makes sense to in­vite two of the Us-based groups to club to­gether with their bid.

The let­ter re­vealed last night: “I fully re­spect your de­sire to en­sure the next own­ers of New­cas­tle United un­der­stand the club, foot­ball, and have the ap­pro­pri­ate fi­nan­cial re­sources, and I am de­lighted that you think the in­vestor group led by my­self is the best fit.

“On my side, I would like to per­son­ally as­sure you that I am com­mit­ted to con­clude our deal since the let­ter there is be­lieved to have been fur­ther di­a­logue from the 65-yearold to Ash­ley with a fresh pledge that an­other re­vised of­fer is on the way. A rep­re­sen­ta­tive from Kenyon’s group was also thought to be in the stands for the 2-0 de­feat against Manch­ester United to of­fer feed­back to those in­volved with the US con­sor­tium. Ash­ley will not wait for­ever but is ready to give Kenyon ev­ery pos­si­ble chance to show he is ca­pa­ble of one last ac­cept­able of­fer. One sug­ges­tion from Ash­ley to Kenyon’s group is to con­sider pool­ing re­sources with the party fronted by ex-man City and as soon as pos­si­ble and, while we are both per­haps frus­trated that we have not pro­gressed as quickly as we would have wished, I would like to ex­press per­sonal grat­i­tude for your pa­tience and in­tegrity in this mat­ter and hope we can con­tinue our dis­cus­sions in the same spirit.”

Ash­ley is due back from his hol­i­day next week, but is still hope­ful of sell­ing the club in 2019. Wi­gan direc­tor Garry Cook.

Ash­ley re­turns from hol­i­day this week and is eager for fur­ther con­ver­sa­tions on the sale of United.

In the mean time, his man­ager Rafa Ben­itez, pic­tured left, is be­com­ing frus­trated at the lack of trans­fer progress.

Af­ter the dis­mal 1-1 draw against Black­burn on FA Cup third round day, Ben­itez again re­fused to answer ques­tions on trans­fers.

This time he was specif­i­cally asked if there had been a bid for Nice striker Mario Balotelli turned down.

He replied: “I said be­fore that I won’t talk about the trans­fer win­dow, but you know, like me, what could be the answer.”

Peter Kenyon, left, and, right, Garry Cook , Ex­ec­u­tive Vice Pres­i­dent and Gen­eral Man­ager of UFC EMEA ■ Sources close to New­cas­tle United owner Mike Ash­ley have con­firmed the let­ter is gen­uine

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