Miles Starforth's analysis: What does Newcastle's 'for sale' statement tell us about the state of play?

Mike Ashley and Lee Charnley
Mike Ashley and Lee Charnley

Newcastle United was already up for sale, so what's new?

Well, the timescale has certainly changed.

Mike Ashley said in August that he could remain as owner for a "good while longer" in an interview in which he revealed his readiness to sell the club.

“I think we’re going to be together a good while longer and we’ve got the man in Rafa (Benitez), and let’s hope that we can generate some funds and we give him some chance to get some building blocks going over the coming years," said Ashley.

A statement issued today underlined the haste with which Ashley is now looking to do business.

"To give an incoming owner the maximum possible flexibility to make meaningful investment in the club, including in its playing squad, the sale process will give interested parties the opportunity of deferring substantial payments," it read.

Amanda Staveley

Amanda Staveley

Ashley, ideally, would like to sell the club by Christmas, though he has pledged to invest in the squad in January if it takes longer.

Four interested parties have already signed non-disclosure agreements, while financier Amanda Staveley – who attended the club's last home game – could yet enter the fray on behalf of her investment fund.

However, if there was a queue of buyers willing to meet Ashley's undisclosed asking price, would today's statement have been issued? Probably not.

And that's it. It all comes down to the price Ashley is willing to accept.

There have been reports that Ashley is looking for £380million. That, according to one football finance expert, is "over the odds".

If he really does want a quick sale, then the price – however it's paid – will have to be realistic.