Sky Sports report that they believe the Amanda Staveley bid to buy Newcastle United can still succeed.
However, for this to happen, two important boxes need to be ticked.
Keith Downie (Sky Sports reporter covering NUFC) says that his understanding is that first of all Newcastle need to survive the drop to the Championship.
This then needs to be followed by the Amanda Staveley led bidders to increase their offer to what Mike Ashley wants.
Sky Sports believing that figure to be the £300m which has been regularly reported previously.
Indeed, Downie thinks there was every chance of the deal going through before Christmas, only for matters on the pitch making that all but impossible.
A poor run of results, only one point from 27, made relegation a very real possibility.
Leading to a stand-off which had no chance of being resolved…
Amanda Staveley only willing to pay £250m unless the offer included compensation clauses in the event of relegation this season, Mike Ashley only willing to accept £300m without any clauses.
For all the smoke and mirrors from both sides, especially Ashley’s, Keith Downie believes that a deal can happen once Premier League survival is confirmed, as nothing has changed and Mike Ashley still wants to sell.
As for the repercussions of no takeover happening, the Sky Sports man’s understanding is that it would be very unlikely that Rafa Benitez would be willing to stay.
Keith Downie of Sky Sports:
“My opinion is that it (Amanda Staveley takeover) is dead until the end of the season – or at least until Newcastle’s fate is sealed one way or another regarding which division they will be playing in next season. That’s pretty much the reason it fell through in the first place.
“If Newcastle get relegated, then the club is worth significantly less than it would be in the Premier League. So when they won a few games in a row earlier this season, the value of the club increased. But when they went on a run without winning – as they did between November and December – then the value of the club decreased because relegation looked more likely.
“I think that’s why there was such a delay over the deal and why there was a discrepancy between Mike Ashley’s valuation of the club and Staveley’s. I can’t see her buying the club in the Championship. She wants to be in charge of a Premier League club. So that’s why her bids were not quite at the level that Ashley wanted.
“She wanted to insert relegation clauses in the event that they went down, so she would then be owed some money back by Ashley. But being the businessman that he is, Ashley wanted a straight sale with no clauses. He would have taken instalments, but he didn’t want any caveats or clauses.
“If Newcastle had been sitting in the top 10 and looking safe, I think the sale would have had a real chance of going through before Christmas. They were in a healthy position when the club was put up for sale in October, but by the time December came around, they were struggling. With that, the value and attractiveness of the club went down.
“What I do think, though, knowing Ashley and the way he operates, is that she will have to increase her current bid. From what I’ve been told by certain people involved, he is looking for around £300m, but her last bid fell around £50m short of that.
“I cannot see the sale going through unless she increases it. From Ashley’s perspective, Newcastle are self-sufficient. He wants to sell, he has had enough of it after 10 years, but they are not losing money, so he is not in a rush. He still gets the free advertising for Sports Direct every time they play.”
What are the club’s chances of keeping Benitez?
“My prediction is that if the takeover doesn’t happen, Newcastle will struggle to keep hold of Benitez. He has other suitors elsewhere, other clubs who know what he is capable of. He came to Newcastle wanting to improve the team, to get them into the top half of the table and compete for honours.
“He knows he is not going to do that with the current squad, and the only way he can improve that squad is if the takeover happens and there’s someone at the top of the club who is willing to put money into it to progress it.
“I can see the takeover being revived at the end of the season, but only if Newcastle are able to stay up and Staveley increases her bid.”