Amanda Staveley's curry night with Newcastle owner Mike Ashley '“ what we know
It's good to talk, right?
So Mike Ashley and Amanda Staveley are talking. We know that because we saw photographs of them leaving a London restaurant on Wednesday evening.
The meeting was reportedly set up by newspaper owner Richard Desmond, a mutual friend of Newcastle United's owner and Staveley.
Staveley, a Middle East-based financier, is bidding to buy the club, but Ashley hasn't yet had an acceptable offer.
So are they any closer after their first face-to-face meeting?
Staveley has offered a one-off payment of Â£250million. Ashley originally wanted closer to Â£400million, though we understand he could be tempted by an offer of around Â£300million.
At least they are talking, though we don't even though if Ashley and Staveley were sat at the same table. It seems inconceivable that they didn't talk about the takeover. They left separately.
Desmond, certainly, looked pleased with himself as he left Paradise, which is located next to Hampstead Heath.
Ashley, up to now, has been unhappy with a series of leaks given that both parties have signed non-disclosure agreements.
So the billionaire, now in the United States on business, will presumably be unhappy at being photographed leaving his favourite curry house, where a chicken tikka masala will set you back Â£9.55.
Ashley, caught unawares by the photographer as he left with his wife, is understood to be a regular patron.
Where did this latest leak come from? Ashley, now in the United States, will want to know.
What is clear is that time is running out for Staveley to take control of the club before the end of the January transfer window.
The two parties are still some way apart, and even if the meeting does lead to a deal, the Premier League will need 30 days to ratify a takeover.
With the Christmas holidays approaching, the timetable is tight.
Manager Rafa Benitez needs money to spend next month. Staveley also knows that. United's fans know that. And even Ashley has acknowledged the need for someone wealthier than him to invest in a club which has been cut to the bone over the last decade.
Staveley – who heads up PCP Capital Partners – looks to be the club's only hope of a takeover.
She wants to buy. Ashley wants to sell. It's that simple.
A deal isn't understood to be close, but supporters can only hope the two parties are closer to an agreement after meeting for the first time.
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