Tyneside businessman Barry Moat is facing a race against time to gain control at Newcastle. Owner Mike Ashley yesterday granted Moat an extension as he attempts to put together the financial package he will need to table a formal offer for the club.
It is understood he will have until the end of this week to persuade Barclays Bank he can service the club's £39m overdraft facility, and produce the £100m he will need to end Ashley's ill-fated reign at St James' Park.
The extension was confirmed in a statement issued by the club yesterday morning. It said: "Newcastle United Football Club confirms that it has extended its deadline to Barry Moat to table an offer for the club.
"The extension has been granted in order to allow Barry Moat and his advisers to conclude funding arrangements with Barclays for the continuation of last season's £39m facility. This would allow a formal offer to be tabled."
Ashley is giving Moat every chance to come up with the money three months after putting the club on the market for the second time, while two other consortiums remain in talks.
However, if none of them can clinch a deal within the next few days, it is likely that Ashley will instead push ahead with his own plans once again, as he did in December last year when a first lengthy worldwide search for a buyer was abandoned.
That would come as a blow to fans hoping for an end to a spell at the helm which has seen the club plummet out of the Premier League and embark upon a series of player sales which has shorn the squad of many of its bigger names.
Many supporters are hoping a successful takeover will see Alan Shearer installed as manager – Moat would certainly appoint him – but there seems little prospect of that happening if Ashley remains in control.