Slow progress in Newcastle sale means Ashley's reign drags on

Club delays preparations for new season as bidders creep towards making offers

The Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley is having to remain patient as his attempt to sell the club drags on. Prospective bidders are edging towards the point where official bids could be made, although the process shows few signs of coming to an end imminently.

Interested parties are at different stages in their efforts to push through a move to buy the Magpies – it is understood a North-east consortium, reportedly led by the club's former chairman Freddy Shepherd, has started due diligence, while the Singapore-based Profitable Group has been asked for proof it can come up with the £100m Ashley has set as his asking price.

In addition, consortia from South Africa and Oman are thought to be in touch with investment bank Seymour Pierce, while speculation over the weekend suggested they may have been joined by potential purchasers from the United States.

That has left London, rather than Tyneside, as the main focus of the club's activities in recent weeks as Seymour Pierce chairman Keith Harris attempts to push through a sale which will end Ashley's ill-fated involvement at St James' Park.

In the meantime, the club has found itself plunged into a hiatus which could undermine their efforts to drag themselves out of the Championship at the first attempt, if it is not addressed soon.

Alan Shearer, who was asked to take charge for the final eight games of last season, went straight into talks with Ashley and managing director Derek Llambias at the end of the campaign and signalled his willingness to take the manager's job on a permanent basis.

Ashley emerged from the initial discussions insisting that bringing the 38-year-old back to his club had been the best decision he had taken during his time on Tyneside.

However, three weeks on, Shearer is still awaiting an answer, with Ashley reluctant to make an appointment as some of those considering buying the club have made it clear they want to take that decision. Speculation over the weekend that Alan Curbishley could be handed the reins to make the club more attractive have been dismissed, but there is little doubt something needs to be done soon if they are not to kick off the new season weeks behind their rivals in terms of preparation.

The Championship fixtures will be published tomorrow with the Magpies yet to announce details of their pre-season campaign.

Shearer outlined his plans for remodelling a squad packed with expensive under-achievers when he met Ashley, knowing the Magpies will have to bite the bullet on the majority of their high-earners.

Michael Owen's representatives have already circulated his details to a series of clubs with the 29-year-old's current contract due to expire at the end of this month, while the likes of Joey Barton, Alan Smith, Fabricio Coloccini and Jonas Gutierrez could lead an exodus out of St James', provided the club can find a buyer.

Shearer, who continued planning for a fortnight after his initial agreement came to an end, also drew up a list of targets to replace them, but has already seen several slip through his grasp because of the continuing uncertainty.

Leeds striker Jermaine Beckford has been heavily linked with a move to Tyneside, while long-term target Per Ciljan Skjelbred is understood not to have been put off by the club's current plight.

The 22-year-old Norwegian playmaker – reportedly also a target for North-east rivals Sunderland as well as Tottenham, Fulham and Torino – was initially identified last year, and Shearer has kept that interest alive.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
people
News
A mugshot of Ian Watkins released by South Wales Police following his guilty pleas
peopleBandmates open up about abuse
Sport
Javier Mascherano of Argentina tackles Arjen Robben of the Netherlands as he attempts a shot
world cup 2014
Arts and Entertainment
The successful ITV drama Broadchurch starring David Tenant and Olivia Coleman came to an end tonight
tv
Sport
Four ski officials in Slovenia have been suspended following allegations of results rigging
sportFour Slovenian officials suspended after allegations they helped violinist get slalom place
Caption competition
Caption competition

Bleacher Report

Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice