‘Chinese investors approach Newcastle United and Mike Ashley considering options’ were the headlines on Monday.
The Sky Sports exclusive claiming that after 10 years in charge, the club’s owner was now seriously thinking about selling.
That story alone was of obvious interest, even though we have learnt to be sceptical about any headlines surrounding Newcastle United, particularly while Mike Ashley has been in charge.
However, the fact that after the story broke there was no statement/comment, either formally or informally, dismissing the story/idea, was arguably even more newsworthy.
Considering that only a few years ago the Telegraph newspaper was banned indefinitely by the club after suggesting Mike Ashley was trying to sell NUFC.
When Sky Sports ran their exclusive on Monday, a number of fans/pundits wondered whether the story was actually place/made up by Mike Ashley, with the purpose of making known to potential buyers that he is prepared to sell now.
This theory has been given support this morning, with the Sunday Sun saying that their information is that, at least to a large degree, the Sky Sports scoop was indeed intended to alert potential investors/buyers.
The newspaper have also quoted Alexander Jarvis – the chairman of Blackbridge Cross Borders, a company that specialises in advising on Chinese takeovers of football clubs in the UK. He hasn’t been contracted by Newcastle United to help sell the club but independently of that, he says US investors have this week been in touch with his company interested in NUFC after the Sky Sports report, as well as two different Chinese investors who have also made contact about NUFC.
Alexander Jarvis, chairman of Blackbridge Cross Borders, speaking to the Sunday Sun:
“I have been contacted by two groups from Shenzhen since news that Newcastle United are available came out on Monday.
“This is a bit of a fishing trip from Newcastle: trying to find out whether there is interest from China and there is definitely global interest in Newcastle.
“The price that is being put around is a high one but Mike Ashley will feel he can get that sort of money for it.
“There are serious people who are still interested in Premier League football and it’s not quite as complicated as people in England sometimes think.
“There is interest in Newcastle in Asia, it has a fanbase in Hong Kong, Malaysia, China, and of course they have a world class manager in Rafa Benitez and Premier League football, which makes them appeal.”