BARRY Moat has finally submitted a written offer to Mike Ashley as he looks to push through his takeover of Newcastle United following the resolution of Kevin Keegan’s FA arbitration hearing.
Although the offer is slightly below Ashley’s £100m asking price, United’s owner has asked for time to consider it and Moat is confident he will receive an answer in the next few days.
Ashley, of course, does not have to sell if he does not want to and Dennis Wise’s comments over the weekend made it clear the sports shop retailer is considering holding on to the club in the hope promotion back to the Premier League can be secured.
Significantly, though, the official bid appears to suggest Moat has come to an agreement with Barclays Bank regarding the size of the overdraft which will be made available to him after he was initially only offered a £10m safety net. That would have meant he needed to raise another £15m on top of the £100m asking price as he would have to immediately reduce the club’s overdraft if he took control as Barclays have been willing to grant Ashley a larger facility – £25m – secured against his greater personal assets.
Given the submission of a written offer to Ashley, Moat has either secured increased financial backing from his investors to cover that extra cost – thought to be based in America – or Barclays have changed their mind about the size of the overdraft.
The Journal understands Alan Shearer, who will be appointed manager if Moat succeeds, has been buoyed by the news but, like United supporters, he has seen too many false dawns this summer to assume an end is in sight to this frustratingly protracted tale.
Ashley has steadfastly maintained over the summer – or rather managing director Derek Llambias has on behalf of his boss – that he will not lower his asking price.
But he remains as unpopular as ever on Tyneside and it is difficult to see how he can possibly look forward to the prospect of holding on to the club when there is so much anger directed at him, whether the Magpies are playing at home or away. Ashley always claimed he bought Newcastle to enjoy himself, but there has been little opportunity for him to do that since the Keegan row erupted in September last year and, subsequently, relegation to the Championship. The Journal also understands he has been advised to sell the club by Llambias. However, United’s caretaker manager Chris Hughton will pay little attention to the latest positive update regarding a takeover as he reflects on his team’s excellent start to life in the Championship.
Many feared the Magpies would struggle to mount any sort of promotion push this season because of the demoralising effect of relegation and the turmoil in the boardroom.
But Hughton – who has been named Championship manager of the month two months running – has done a tremendous job with the support of Colin Calderwood and the players.
He said: “I am delighted to still be top. When you’ve had a moment to settle down after, what was for me, a frustrating afternoon.
“It was not the result we were after, but what you have to do, as soon as you can, is assess where we are. And the bigger package is the main thing.
“We have come into a league we didn’t know much about and at this stage, being three points clear at the top of the table, speaks volumes for the approach of this bunch of lads.
“That is the most important thing. We can go into the international break now, get a few players back and give them a few days rest as well because the games will come thick and fast again after that.” Meanwhile, Ryan Taylor (pictured right) has praised Hughton for the way he has managed to protect the players from the constant speculation regarding the future of the club.
He said: “You can turn the TV on any day you want and I guarantee there will be something on it about what is happening off the pitch at Newcastle United. But thankfully Chris Hughton is so focused on his job that he does not let the outside world distract him.
“He has won two manager of the month awards now.
“That’s a tremendous feat, especially at Newcastle where it is all going a little bit weird off the pitch.”