We’ve been less than confident for the last few weeks that Mike Ashley will be able to sell the Newcastle club before the end of the month.
Mike Ashley – to keep players and invest £40M for wages?
And we think Mike will need to make a move soon, as time is starting to run out on getting new players in, and before you can do that you need a permanent manager in place, however good a makeshift job Chris Hughton and Colin Calderwood have been able to do during the summer.
And the Times is reporting that Mike Ashley, the Newcastle United owner, is now ready to retain possession of the Tyneside club for at least another year.
The Times reports that Ashley and Seymour Pierce, the investment bank charged with handling the sale of the club, have now set a time limit on the two consortia still involved in substantive negotiations, of this coming Friday to buy Newcastle.
The Times is saying that current owner Ashley believes the beginning of the Coca-Cola Championship season this Saturday is a crucial time water-shed time for the club.
Once the season starts the chances of a sale happening will rapidly diminish, from what are not very high odds to begin with.
Mike Ashley will commit himself for another 12 months to the Newcastle cause, in the hope that a return to the Barclays Premier League will be achieved at the very first attempt by the current squad.
A source told the Times:
“It all depends on how much the consortia are willing to pay and how much they are willing to subsidize the club,”
“Mr Ashley might take the view he would be a better owner.”
But a source in the City has said the chances of a sale proceeding now stand at no better than 50-50, and that seems to be high odds to us.
Ashley of course has refused to appoint a new permanent manager, so as not to upset the plans of any incoming owner, but that excuse will now go by the boards and he will need to appoint one, maybe before the game on Saturday at WBA.
It will certainly be interesting to see who he will bring in to manage the club in the Championship.
The Times is saying that Joe Kinnear will not be appointed, but we also doubt that Alan Shearer will be hired by Mike, after he has essentially completely ignored the local hero all summer.
The experienced Alan Curbishley has also been linked with the role, and it is thought hat Mike may try to keep as many current players as possible to mount a promotion season, starting this Saturday.
The Times reports Mike is even willing to pump about £40M of his own money into the club to cover the wage bill, and help them in their attempt to secure promotion.
But that would be a huge surprise if Mike did that, although it would be a massive investment in the club by Mike, and may be even be appreciated by the still loyal Newcastle fan base.
We estimate after the Martins sale the wage bill is about £56M with more players set to leave before the end of this month. We can probably afford a wage bill around £35M on our revenues for next season, so anything above that would need to be an investment.
But of course a successful Newcastle side will soon attract bigger gates, and if Newcastle are leading the league we would expect 52,000 home gates and good money going into the Newcastle coffers.
The identity of the two consortia remains a well kept secret, although it is understood that at least one is from the Middle East, and a group based in the United States has also been involved in recent talks.
Keith Harris, the executive chairman of Seymour Pierce, still expressed optimism last night that a Newcastle sale could be completed by the end of the month, but that prospective buyers wanted to see more evidence of the wage bill being reduced before committing themselves.
We have to believe that something will break soon, and if Mike decides to keep the club another year, employs Alan Shearer, and pumps £40M into the club to keep our current players on their current wages for the coming season, he may even get a few Geordie fans behind him, after overseeing the disaster of this summer.
But the good news is there may still be time to correct the many bad decisions that have been made these last 10 weeks, and appointing Alan Shearer would be one very good step to take – immediately.