Keith Harris, Chairman of investment bank Seymour Pierce, has come out today and given an update on the pending sale of Newcastle United.
Keith told BBC Radio 5 Live’s Sportsweek show today:
“What I have said in the past is, if you put yourself in the position of a prospective owner of Newcastle or any other football club, you want to be there and have had a chance to work with the manager to decide on what should happen to the playing staff, both coming out and going in.”
“If that isn’t the case, you probably want to wait and see how the activity was in January, so you would defer it until February.”
“We are nudging now towards mid-November and unless it is going to happen in the next couple of weeks, maybe three weeks, it is probably likely to be deferred until after the close of the window, when also people have got some hopes that the financial chaos will have settled down a little.”
“It’s my gut feeling, but it is no more than gut. I have got nothing tangible to base it on other than that instinct.” “I don’t think there is anything negative in that, it is force of circumstances.”
Ashley engaged the service of Keith back in September, after a Newcastle fans’ revolt over manager Kevin Keegan’s resignation. It was the second time Kevin has resigned from the Tyneside club – and we still don’t exactly what the circumstances of the disagreement exactly were.
The circumstances over the last couple of days strongly suggest that a sale is not imminent anytime soon, despite interest having been expressed by two American consortiums.
“With Newcastle, the situation is relatively straightforward. The last month to six weeks has been, in the financial markets, the worst that anyone can ever remember, without any real sign, any tangible sign, of them getting better.”
“The people that have either approached us, or we have approached and have responded positively, are no less affected.” “Whether you are worth £20B, £10B, you were probably worth a great deal more six weeks ago.”
“People are being exceptionally cautious. The thing that has come in our favor is a strong performance of the US dollar, particularly against sterling, which means that it (buying an English club) has become much cheaper. We are hoping that comes to fruition.”
“Obviously, we also have a transfer window coming up, the only chance a club has to amend its playing staff materially during the course of the season, and that will be playing on potential new owners’ minds right now.”
It seems that February may be the best time for a sale, but that will depend on whether the world financial markets show any sign of improving, which it certainly hasn’t over the last 3-4 weeks, even though the US has piled over $350B of tax payer money into US Banks, to help bail them out from their excesses.
If this is truly the case and a sale is held up until after January, then Joe Kinnear should be appointed now, at least through January, so he can get down to work out which players to bring in during the transfer window.
We’d not be surprised if Joe has some good ideas, and even some good players already lined up to bring to the club.
But Mike Ashley has to support him – fully.