With Mike Ashley erecting a very public “For Sale” sign at Newcastle United, fans as well as the Sports Direct owner are looking for potential buyers.
The question is: who?
Although experts suggest Ashley’s £350million-plus asking price for United might be double over the odds, the club is understood to still have potential suitors with four parties having signed non-disclosure agreements.
Hedge fund boss Amanda Staveley’s presence at Newcastle’s last home game against Liverpool ensures she is seen as a takeover contender. But there are suggestions Staveley could face competition from, among others, a Russian billionaire and an American keen on sporting investments.
Here, we examine four potential future owners – or ownership scenarios - for Newcastle United:
The 6ft 9in Russian billionaire is said to be looking to sell NBA basketball side Brooklyn Nets for $2 billion, so word we have received of him being keen on United may be more than just a tall story.
Moscow-based Prokhorov completed a full takeover of the Nets for £1.7billion in December 2015, but has not overseen a transformation in the struggling club’s fortunes.
There are suggestions that Prokhorov has eyes for a Premier League club investment, and with a personal fortune estimated at almost $9bn, the 52-year- old may not need to sell the
Nets before buying into football.
Perhaps the favourite to launch a bid for the club after her appearance at the Premier League clash with Liverpool earlier this month, she certainly knows the ins and outs of a takeover.
Through her connections in the Middle East, she helped push through the sale of Manchester City, which pocketed her firm, PCP Capital Partners, around £10million.
So could she be keen on brokering another Premier League deal? Informal talks are reported to have taken place between Staveley, Ashley and his PR man Keith Bishop.
And reports today claim that Staveley is genuinely interested in a £300m bid, with an extra £150m put inside for investment in the team.
After the New England Patriots and the New England Revolution, could Newcastle United be the latest addition to US business mogul Kraft’s sporting stable?
The 76-year-old has previously hinted at interest in investing in a Premier League team - so could the Toon catch his eye?
Having made his original fortune in paper and packaging, Kraft has focused his recent investments on sport, and now has a stake in in UFC and an e-sports team in Boston.
With an estimated worth of $6.2billion, meeting Ashley’s asking price should be no problem. But there is no concrete evidence yet that Kraft’s sporting empire will spread to English
Word of Chinese interest in Newcastle has grown louder as Midlands clubs West Brom, Aston Villa, Birmingham and Wolves have been the subject of Far East takeovers.
Those whispers grew louder earlier this year, when reports suggested concrete interest in United from Beijing, while the Magpies are now sponsored by far Eastern gaming company Fun888.
But Ashley may have to wait on a Chinese bid for Newcastle, at least while challenges in China to a recently passed law restricting domestic businesses there from investing abroad are debated.