x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Ashley calls in investment bank at Newcastle

The Newcastle owner Mike Ashley has stepped up his efforts to sell the club by appointing an investment bank to handle negotiations.

Mike Ashley, the owner of Newcastle, has stepped up his efforts to sell the club by appointing an investment bank to handle negotiations. London-based Seymour Pierce will oversee the sale on behalf of Ashley, who has decided to sell the business in response to protests sparked by the departure of the manager Kevin Keegan. The club have been strongly linked with potential purchasers in Dubai and Abu Dhabi and there has also been talk of investment from China, Qatar and, more recently, Nigeria.

Indeed, reports from Africa have suggested a bid of £350million (Dh2.3bn) - about £130m less than the asking price allegedly quoted last week - has already been tabled. Ashley, managing director Derek Llambias, executive director (football) Dennis Wise and vice president (player recruitment) Tony Jimenez last week flew to Dubai in an effort to push through a quick disposal. However, amid a flurry of statements from supposedly interested parties insisting they were not in the market for the club, and allegations of snubbed meetings, they returned without a deal having been struck.

Ashley bought Newcastle about 16 months ago for £134.4m, and has since invested a further £110m to service the debts he inherited and fund transfers. However, the departure of Keegan earlier this month has left St James' Park in turmoil on and off the pitch. They slipped into the relegation zone after Saturday's 3-1 defeat at West Ham. * PA Sport