Ashley talks to Moat over £100m sale

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Newcastle have opened talks with Tyneside businessman Barry Moat over a possible takeover at St James' Park.

Managing director Derek Llambias has confirmed that discussions are under way, but it is understood that Moat is not the only interested party still involved.

In addition, owner Mike Ashley is insisting on the £100m price tag he put on the club when he put it up for sale at the end of last season and will refuse to do business for anything less.

Speculation that developments were imminent mounted on Saturday when Moat sat alongside Ashley at St James' Park for the club's 3-0 victory over Reading in the Championship.

The prospective buyer has spent much of the last few weeks attempting to put together a financial package to satisfy the sportswear magnate that he can buy him out.

However, time is running short for either Moat or one of two consortia still believed to be in the running to push through a deal.

Indeed, it is understood Ashley wants decisive action by the end of this week, or he could decide to carry on at the helm himself, something neither he nor the club's fans particularly want.

Should Moat be successful, he would almost certainly install Alan Shearer as manager, although just how much cash would be available to strengthen a squad which was weakened further yesterday by the completion of winger Damien Duff's move to Fulham, remains to be seen.

Steven Taylor, Fabricio Coloccini and Jonas Gutierrez, who all played at the weekend, are still being linked with other clubs with Michael Owen, Mark Viduka, Obafemi Martins, Sébastien Bassong, Habib Beye, Claudio Cacapa, Peter Lovenkrands, David Edgar and Ignacio Gonzalez having already left.

The Magpies continue a campaign which has started positively at home to Sheffield Wednesday tonight, but many supporters will once again be as concerned with what is going on off the pitch as on it.

Meanwhile, the former England defender Sol Campbell is in negotiations over a possible move to St James' Park. The 34-year-old, a free agent after leaving Portsmouth in the summer, attended the victory over Reading last weekend.

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