NEWCASTLE United have confirmed they will make a long-overdue announcement on the progress of Mike Ashley’s attempts to sell the club on Monday.
Ashley is in advanced negotiations with Tyneside businessman Barry Moat over a £100million deal to buy him out and had hoped for definitive progress one way or another before the end of this week.
Managing director Derek Llambias was quoted in one newspaper as claiming the deal was “there or thereabouts” on Friday morning but there remains a few significant hurdles to overcome before Moat can finally take control and appoint Alan Shearer as manager.
The Journal understands one sticking point on the deal is whether Barclays Bank will allow the club’s £40million overdraft to be passed from Ashley to Moat – something that is far from certain at this point.
Llambias said: “We're in negotiations with Barry and I am hopeful. But like everything you have to get money in the bank and banks and money are very tight at the moment. It's all about getting money in the bank.”
Ashley now hopes to hear more on Monday morning, which will prompt a statement from the club on the current state of play.
A Newcastle spokesman confirmed to The Journal: “There will be an update on the situation on Monday.”
Unless the announcement confirms Ashley has sold the club it is unlikely to pacify fed-up fans, who have long since lost patience with the drawn out process.
And if Moat did take over, he would have precious little room to manoeuvre in terms of squad strengthening.
By Monday there will be just seven days remaining until the transfer window closes shut – although there is the option of so-called ‘emergency’ loans to fill the gaps in United’s squad. The nightmare scenario – for both Ashley and the club’s fans – is that a sale collapses and the reviled owner is forced to limp on.
That would likely see Chris Hughton confirmed as manager for the rest of the season and Ashley have another crack at selling the club next summer.