Mystery surrounded claims a north-east businessman is ready to launch a £150m takeover for Newcastle.
A press release issued on behalf of a Rick Parkinson early today announced he has put together a five-man consortium which is ready to offer Mike Ashley £90m for the club, £10m below his asking price.
In addition, Parkinson and his backers say they would put £30m into restructuring the business and install Alan Shearer as manager with a £30m war-chest.
They are yet to contact Seymour Pierce, the investment bankers handling the sale, although they claim they will be ready to do so within the next 10 days.
However, the news came as just that in the north-east with neither the club nor well-placed sources in the city aware of Parkinson and his consortium.
Seymour Pierce chairman Keith Harris is understood to have opened talks with up to four different prospective purchasers, the latest of them the Singapore-based Profitable Group, which confirmed its interest earlier this week.
But other interested parties are thought to have made greater progress as Ashley attempts to end his stay on Tyneside as soon as possible.