Mike Ashley’s best hope of selling Newcastle could rest upon two of the interested parties joining forces.
The emergence of a letter from former Manchester United and Chelsea chief executive Peter Kenyon to Ashley detailing his continued pursuit of the £300million he would need to buy the club revealed that wheels are still in motion behind the scenes despite the Sports Direct tycoon’s hopes of unloading the business he has owned for almost 12 years by Christmas having been dashed.
However, none of four consortia who have formally expressed an interest have yet to reach an agreement with at least two struggling to put together the funding they would need to meet the asking price.
Ashley pulled out of talks with Amanda Staveley’s PCP Capital Partners 12 months ago after progress stalled and Kenyon’s missive was in part a bid to persuade the sportswear magnate that his mission is genuine and ongoing.
It was perhaps well-timed with the current owner once again growing weary over the apparent lack of movement having placed the ball firmly in the court of the prospective buyers some time ago amid a perception among protesting fans that he has no real intention to sell.
That said, his patience is not infinite and while Kenyon and his fellow bidders may have been granted extra time, the clock is ticking.
To that end, Press Association Sport understands that, while they are still seeking the extra funding they need, two of the parties are at least considering the possibility of pooling their resources in an attempt to fashion a breakthrough.
In the meantime, manager Rafael Benitez’s hopes of strengthening his squad during the January transfer window seem likely to rest upon Ashley’s willingness to sanction deals which he can finance should no takeover be forthcoming before the end of the month.
Fans’ groups joined forces earlier this week to urge the Magpies supremo to back his manager in an open letter as fears over a third relegation during his time on Tyneside mount.
Benitez had his list of targets ready last month and had hoped for early progress with the club sitting just two points clear of the relegation zone, but he will have to make the football and financial cases for each of them in line with the owner’s long-held transfer policy if he is to get what he wants.
He will hope to be as successful as he was last year when the arrivals of keeper Martin Dubravka and winger Kenedy on loan along with striker Islam Slimani prompted a concerted fightback.