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.

News
news

Emergency call 'started off dumb, but got pretty serious'

News
people

Britain First criticised for using actress's memory to draw attention to their 'hate-filled home page'

News
Russell Brand was in typically combative form during his promotional interview with Newsnight's Evan Davis
people

Thought you'd seen it all after the Jeremy Paxman interview?

Arts and Entertainment
On The Apprentice, “serious” left the room many moons ago and yet still we watch
tv

Greatest mystery about the hit BBC1 show is how it continues to be made at all, writes Grace Dent

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Voices
Funds raised from the sale of poppies help the members of the armed forces with financial difficulties
voicesLindsey German: The best way of protecting soldiers is to stop sending them into conflicts
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from David Ayer's 'Fury'
film

"History is violent," says the US Army tank commander Don "Wardaddy" Collier

Arts and Entertainment
Liam and Zayn of One Direction play with a chimpanzee on the set of their new video for 'Steal My Girl'
music

Animal welfare charities have urged the boy band to cut the scenes

News
The Edge and his wife, Morleigh Steinberg, at the Academy Awards in 2014
peopleGuitarist faces protests over plan to build mansions in Malibu
News
peopleFox presenter gives her less than favourable view of women in politics
News
George Clooney and Amal Alamuddin married in Venice yesterday
peopleAmal and George Clooney 'planning third celebration in England'
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley at the premiere of Laggie at Toronto Film Festival 2014
theatreActress 'to make Broadway debut'
Property
One bedroom terraced house for sale, Richmond Avenue, Islington, London N1. On with Winkworths for £275,000.
property
Sport
Erik Lamela celebrates his goal
football

Argentinian scored 'rabona' wonder goal for Tottenham in Europa League – see it here

Voices
Nigel Farage has backed DJ Mike Read's new Ukip song
voicesNigel Farage: Where is the Left’s outrage over the sexual abuse of girls in the North of England?
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker