Mike Ashley has revealed he is in advanced talks to sell Newcastle United - and claims there is an outside chance the deal could go through before the January transfer window.
The under-fire Newcastle owner told Sky's Ian King Live talks were "at a more progressed stage than they have ever been".
He stressed they were not yet at an "exclusive" stage, the potential buyer was not named.
Ashley added: "I am hopeful – for the Newcastle fans, for the club, for everybody, that I will be able to step aside and we will be able to get an owner in that will please everybody."
Ashley put the club up for sale 13 months ago but talks with financier Amanda Staveley broke off in January.
As previously reported there is some interest in the club, which is valued at upwards of £300million by Ashley, from the USA while former Chelsea chief executive Peter Kenyon has also been linked with a move for Newcastle. Ashley’s representatives have previously held talks with companies based in China and the Middle East.
Speaking live in the studio, Ashley said: "I would like it to be before the January transfer window."
When asked if that was realistic, Ashley said: "Realistic? Possible. Realistic is maybe too strong a word.
"Hopefully we can carry on the recent good form and we can get the deal done."
When asked if he was in exclusive talks?
"Not exclusive but talks are at a more progressed stage than they have ever been."
And Ashley was also asked if there would be transfer funds for Rafa Benitez from the potential new owner, Ashley added: "Yes, yes. I am very keen to sell it to the right buyer so then everybody is happy, that would be good news."
Ashley, the owner of Sports Direct, had gone more than a year without attending a Newcastle game but then made a surprise appearance in the directors’ box at Selhurst Park in September. He has since attended several Newcastle games.