The fresh £100m financial black hole facing Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley
Mike Ashley's Frasers Group fortune is set to take a financial hit to the tune of £100 million - and that's without the threat of Premier League relegation halving the value of Newcastle United.
The group, which includes the likes of Ashley's flagship store Sports Direct and House of Fraser, have warned of a deepening of the retail industry's financial black hole brought on by extending non-essential shop closures until April 12, at the earliest.
Boris Johnson's 'roadmap out of lockdown' has come as the latest blow to Ashley, with the Magpies owner's Frasers Group seeing revenues drop by around 12% as a result of last year's lockdowns.
The group released a statement to the stock exchange yesterday. It read: "Given the length of this current lockdown, potential systemic changes to consumer behaviour, and the risk of further restrictions in future, we believe this non-cash impairment could be in excess of £100 million.
"Any such impairment would be in addition to impairments included in the half year results announced on 10 December 2020 and is expected to be included, subject to audit, with the company's results for the financial year ending April 2021."
These grim financial forecasts come as Ashley drives on with his aggressive approach to acquisition in the retail sector.
Ashley also remains desperate to sell Newcastle United to the PCP consortium, whose majority shareholder-in-waiting, the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia, were prevented from completing the purchase via the protracted Premier League owners' and directors' test.
Ashley is believed to be keen to sell United to the Saudis for two key reasons, the first of which is their ability to pay for their stake in the club up front.
It is also understood Ashley is keen to make inroads into the Middle Eastern sports retail industry, with the kingdom seen as a potentially lucrative market, due to the young, increasingly active population.
Should United be relegated from the Premier League, their value is likely to half from the estimated £330 million Ashley has agreed with PCP.
And it remains to be seen whether the Saudis, buying out 80% of Ashley's stake, would remain interested in buying a club outside the world's premier domestic footballing competition.
United sit just three points above the top flight dropzone with 13 games remaining.