Harris still confident he can sell Newcastle

NEWCASTLE United deal broker Keith Harris remains optimstic Mike Ashley could sell the club this month, and believes the wage bill is a far bigger barrier than the lack of a manager.

Mike Ashley

NEWCASTLE United deal broker Keith Harris remains optimstic Mike Ashley could sell the club this month, and believes the wage bill is a far bigger barrier than the lack of a manager.

Harris has an impressive track record when it comes to facilitating deals to sell clubs, but admits the financial climate is making it much harder to offload Newcastle.

Seymour Pierce were charged in May with finding a buyer for the relegated Premier League club at the right price, something owner Ashley failed to do in 2008.

But despite numerous optimstic bulletins from the club’s hierarchy predicting imminent sales, United remain on the market for £100m.

“Newcastle are clearly not going to be sold before 5.30 on Saturday (the time their first game of the season kicks off),” said Harris. “But I’m hopeful something might be done by the end of the month.

“I wish there had been an announcement but it is not through lack of interest. As opposed to two years ago, the glass is half empty instead of half full (from the perspective of potential buyers).”

A reluctance to make major decisions prevented Newcastle slashing their huge wage bill over the summer but the sale of Obafemi Martins has freed the logjam.

Harris admits the wage bill has been a disincentive for buyers, and expects others to follow Martins out of the door soon. He also raised the prospect of players being bought before the transfer window shuts.

“The shock to Newcastle’s revenue line after relegation is very severe,” said Harris, who went on to explain that while Newcastle could cover the costs in the Premier League, they could not outside it.

“It was important to show that players were capable of being sold,” he added. “A potential buyer knows he has an income from a player, as well as having him off the bill and he (Martins) wasn’t suited to the Championship I would expect a few more to leave in the coming weeks and one or two to come in.”

Meanwhile, striker Simon Cox claims it was the confusion at St James’s which means he will be lining up for West Brom and not opponents Newcastle on Saturday.

The 22-year-old left Swindon for £1.9m last month, and claims United were also interested but the confusion surrounding the club made it a non-starter.

“There was truth in that story (of Newcastle interest) but they had no manager so why would I go there?” he said. “If they had been sorted and not in turmoil then it might have been a different story.”

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