Newcastle in early-stage talks with potential investors

Mike Ashley and Lee Charnley
Mike Ashley and Lee Charnley

Newcastle United have signed non-disclosure agreements with a series of potential investors as owner Mike Ashley attempts to find a way forward for the club.

Press Association Sport understands that the club has held initial talks with several interested parties, but that no deal is imminent.

The news follows reports of an approach by a Chinese consortium and claims that Ashley is ready to drop his asking price to £380million.

Those reports were played down by sources on Tyneside, but it is clear that the club is on the international radar.

Ashley has admitted that he cannot provide manager Rafael Benitez with the cash he wants to assemble a squad to compete at the upper end of the Premier League, much to the Spaniard's frustration.

As a result, he is open to offers, both to buy the club and to invest in it.

Managing director Lee Charnley and his commercial team were dispatched to the Far East at the end of last season and returned with a new sponsor in the shape of Chinese firm Fun88, sparking suggestions of further investment from that region.

It is understood that those who have made enquiries are at different stages in the process, but that no-one has yet put the money on the table that will open the door to detailed discussions.

Ashley has been at the St James's Park helm for more than a decade and has presided over one season of European football, but two relegations followed by immediate promotions.