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Mike Ashley in talks with buyers for Newcastle after signing non-disclosure agreements

2 years ago
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Interesting news on Saturday morning, with reports that Mike Ashley has been in talks with prospective buyers for Newcastle United.

The Times say that after initial talks, certain potential new owners then signed ‘no-disclosure agreements’ which would then have given them more detailed access into the finances/workings of the club.

There have been a lot of false dawns when it comes to claims of a possible sale of the club and after 10 years under his control, many Newcastle fans have given up hope.

As the Times say, the club has effectively being up for sale for many years, but with Mike Ashley setting a price that far exceeded its market worth, he has been happy to sit on his asset and watch it increase in value – plus get related benefits, especially the worldwide free promotion of Sports Direct and the rest of his retail empire.

The newspaper though says that after setting a new valuation of £400m in the summer, Ashley has now indicated that he will knock that down to £380m to get a deal done.

What a fair valuation exactly is, is very hard to say, but The Times say that still ‘brokers believe that he is being optimistic’ with what he’s asking.

A bit like your house though, it is simply worth what somebody will pay.

With a net spend of only £11.5m this summer and Rafa Benitez having made an overall profit in the transfer market of almost £30m since his arrival in March 2016, plus the wage bill one of the lowest in the Premier League, the finances of the club will be looking positive.

Then despite this tight (strangle?)hold on the finances, Rafa Benitez has somehow moulded a team that is looking very likely to be able to fight its corner in the top tier.

Then on top of that, maybe most importantly, the overseas TV deals signed already show another massive rise in cash for PL clubs as from 2019/20, with now all the signs also indicating that the domestic TV deal is also going to go far higher from that date.

So in many ways there is a strong argument as to why somebody should want to buy Newcastle United at this point.

Let’s just hope that Mike Ashley doesn’t price the club out of the reach of potential credible buyers – just imagine how good it would feel if Rafa Benitez had real backing in the upcoming transfer windows, when you consider the minor miracles he appears to have managed with scarce resources.

The biggest positive to take from The Time report is that if true, then at the very least Mike Ashley wants to sell the club.

Earlier this year it was revealed that one of Mike Ashley’s long-term inner circle, Justin Barnes, had been sent up to St James Park to take all the major financial decisions above Lee Charnley, with claims that the move was to prepare the club to be sold.

Hopefully on this occasion it will be a case of two plus two equalling four.

The Times:

‘Mike Ashley has dropped the asking price for Newcastle United to £380 million in an attempt to complete a sale.

Newcastle have effectively been on the market for several years without finding a buyer, but there were fresh negotiations with Chinese investors last summer and Ashley said that he valued the club at £400 million.

In talks that have led to several potential buyers signing non-disclosure agreements in recent weeks however, Ashley has indicated that he would sell for £380 million, as well as emphasising that Newcastle possess a world-class manager in Rafael Benítez.

Ashley is determined to get more than double the £180 million he paid for Newcastle ten years ago, although brokers believe that he is being optimistic.’

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