Newcastle insist Ashley sale story is 'complete nonsense'

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The Independent Football

A spokesman for InterMedia Partners, the New York-based company reported yesterday to have been in discussions about a possible purchase of Newcastle United, said last night that the company have not bid for Newcastle. But, unwilling to confirm if there was any direct meeting with Newcastle, he refused to rule out the possibility of third-party contact.

"There is no truth to the story that we have made an offer for Newcastle," was all the spokesman would say. There may be some elaboration on what has occurred, if anything – either directly or via an intermediary – next week. With yesterday being 4 July and a public holiday, there was no official statement from InterMedia.

For Newcastle it meant yet more unwelcome speculation, something they have had to fend off almost from the day last summer when Ashley took 100 per cent control of the club. "These stories are absolute nonsense," said a Newcastle spokesman.

However, it is the thought that Ashley might be interested in selling that will continue to intrigue Tyneside. Ultimately every business has its price but there is a difference between that and seeking a buyer.

Previous chairman Chris Mort made repeated references to "long-term planning" but Ashley and his new chairman at the club, Derek Llambias, remain silent. In part that fuels the rumours that Ashley has let it be known that he would be a willing seller should a purchaser offer sufficient money, in this case around £400m.

Having bought Newcastle for £138m last summer and ploughed in £50m and then a further £70m to wipe off inherited debts, Ashley has invested around £260m in total.

Closer to home, defender Steven Taylor, England under-21 captain, has signed a new three-year contract.

Middlesbrough manager Gareth Southgate made his first two signings of the summer yesterday. Marvin Emnes, 20, cost £3.2m from Sparta Rotterdam and has signed a four-year contract. Paris St Germain and France Under-21 midfielder Didier Digard has also signed a four-year deal after costing £4m.