This is why Mike Ashley remains sceptical about prospects of a Newcastle United takeover
Mike Ashley wants to see the colour of their money. That’s seemingly where we are, again, after months of talks with the latest group interested in buying Newcastle United.
It’s more than three weeks since news broke of interest in the club from Saudi Arabia.
Talks were understood to be at an advanced stage earlier this month, but sources close to the proposed deal insist that there is not yet any money on the table.
Ashley’s willingness to sell the club, a move for which was considered by Britain’s richest man last year, has been questioned by many on Tyneside given that the club has now been on the market for well over two years, but the billionaire is said to still be as keen to relinquish control – at the right price.
Fans are sceptical. And, it seems, Ashley – who values the club at upwards of £300million – is also sceptical, not least because of the involvement of Amanda Staveley, the financier who failed with a previous bid two years ago.
Ashley was also irritated by the leak, having previously said that if a proposed takeover hit the news before it was done, it wouldn’t get done.
“I think I could own this football club forever,” said Ashley last July. “That’s my new mental state. The reality is with these deals that once it gets out, if it's not done, it's probably not going to get done.
“The day someone buys Newcastle, they'll do their due diligence – and finished. By the time the media find out, it's already complete.”
Talks are said to be ongoing. Justin Barnes, Ashley’s associate, has been handling negotiations.
Ashley was at the Kassam Stadium last week along with managing director Lee Charnley for the club’s FA Cup replay against Oxford, which was decided by an extra-time goal from Allan Saint-Maximin.
Takeover discussions are also going into extra time, and the result is in the balance.
As is so often the case at Newcastle, there are more questions than answers, but Ashley, tellingly, seems to think he could be owner for some time yet.