Chronicle journalist Lee Ryder has suggested that it is unlikely that Mike Ashley will sell Newcastle United before the end of the season.
The controversial businessman has been heavily linked with a takeover in recent times, with both the Bin Zayed Group and, more recently, Peter Kenyon rumoured to be attempting buyouts.
But when asked about the potential for Ashley to sell-up in the immediate future during a Q&A for the Chronicle (18.14), Ryder responded: “It is the £300million question. We know there’s a lot of interest in buying out United but moving from that point to the stage where the purchase has been completed has eluded a fair few would-be buyers who have subsequently failed to back up bold talk of wanting to purchase the Magpies.
“Mike Ashley’s terms deserve some scrutiny too, mind. He’s clearly happier with the process of buying that he is with selling and while those inside the club insist it’d be an “easy deal” if anyone had the money, those around the process have always insisted he’s difficult to deal with.
“If I was a betting man, I’d say Ashley will be here in May.”
This is just about the last thing that Newcastle United fans would want to hear, but equally, they can’t be overly surprised by the news. After all, as Ryder himself alludes to here, Ashley has built a real reputation as a tough negotiator, and as such, he seems unlikely to budge when it comes to his valuation of the club. That could, however, be a real issue. For one thing, the £300 million or so that Ashley is reported to be demanding is widely regarded as excessive. Football finance expert Kieran Maguire recently suggested in a conversation with The Athletic that, in comparison to other teams in the Premier League, the Toon Army were definitely not worth that much. Secondly, while the Magpies continue to make Ashley money, he will not sell. After all, he is a businessman first and foremost, and profit will always be his priority. Boycotts are useful, of course, but the fact of the matter is that United are a cash cow, and he will not give that up unless it is for a price he deems worthy.