Newcastle have bidders lining up, says Harris

Banker tasked with selling club is confident a deal can be signed within a month
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The Independent Football

The man working to sell Newcastle on behalf of owner Mike Ashley claims there is "real and decent interest" in the club from a number of parties, and is hopeful a deal can be done by the end of this month.

Keith Harris, the chairman of investment bank Seymour Pierce, said there were "two or three" interested parties, and hinted that some of that interest comes from the United Kingdom. "I'm confident... there will be offers for Mike to consider in quite short order," Harris said. "There is real and decent interest, this is not necessarily from far flung parts of the globe and those expressing interest when it was first marketed but this is good, gritty interest."

Despite Newcastle's relegation and the huge sums lost on his investment by Ashley, Harris said the Magpies remain an attractive proposition because of the infrastructure and potential at St James' Park. "It is a huge club," he said.

"If you think in attendance terms last year, it exceeded Liverpool, averaging 48,000 and Liverpool a little over 45,000. If you walk around the infrastructure, the training ground, the academy, if you're a person who is willing to take a view over the next two to three years, this is a club that belongs in the top seven."

Alan Shearer returns from his holiday today still unsure of his future at the club. The news that Ashley has hired the First Artists agency to begin a sale of a number of the 15 players on the club's books who earn more than £50,000 a week is unlikely to ease Shearer's fears over taking on the manager's position full time.

Harris was also involved in previous efforts to sell Liverpool, and said fans should not be too concerned by reports the club could go out of business, while warning manager Rafa Benitez could be facing a tough transfer window.

"It's serious but it's a warning to the shareholders," he said. Rather than go out of business, Harris said the club's owners are realistically facing three options: to sell up; find additional funds by selling other assets; or sell players to make up the shortfall. "I think whatever happens, Benitez's manoeuvres in the transfer market will be restricted."