NEWCASTLE United supporters should know the identity of the club's new owners by the end of the week as the bank in charge of the sale prepares to make a recommendation on which bid to accept.
Seymour Pierce, who were asked to find a buyer by owner Mike Ashley last month, have now received four bids for the club, with at least two of them matching the £100m asking price.
Those offers are now being analysed in detail with, Keith Harris, the chairman of Seymour Pierce, looking to determine which represents the best deal for both Ashley and the club.
Although all of the interested parties have shown they have the funds necessary to go through with the deal, The Journal understands one of the groups has significantly more financial muscle than the rest.
As a result, they are thought to have the best hope of lifting the Magpies back into the Premier League at the first attempt by providing money to be spent in the transfer market as well as on stabilising the club’s debt following relegation.
However, that is not the only relevant factor, with the structure of the deal also being looked at in terms of how quickly Ashley will receive his money and how quickly the new owners will be in place and able to appoint a new manager. Alan Shearer will almost certainly be given the job.
The former Magpies skipper has been in discreet contact with at least two of the bidding parties and is now waiting for a final breakthrough to be made.
Shearer has also been able to have some say in the team’s pre-season preparations. The first-team squad is currently in Ireland ahead of a friendly against Shamrock Rovers on Saturday, with caretaker boss Chris Hughton putting them through a harsh fitness programme designed by Shearer at the end of last season.
This includes three training sessions a day at their base in Carton House, Kildare, with the first starting at 7am, a sign Shearer was determined to stamp his authority on the players before the frustrating delay in his appointment.
It had been initially thought Newcastle were struggling to find a buyer willing to meet the asking price as a result of the crippling state of the club’s finances.
However, after a brief period of bargaining which has delayed the takeover by a few days, managing director Derek Llambias is confident a formal announcement will be made fairly quickly.
He said: “There have been more than two bids at £100m. At the moment we are in the hands of the lawyers and it is all ongoing. We are giving interested parties
all the help that they need.” Although non-disclosure agreements prevent any of the bidders revealing their identity, sources close to the deal have claimed an American and a South African group are the front runners, as well as the Malaysians who visited the club’s Darsley Park training ground last week.
Meanwhile, former Newcastle forward Peter Løvenkrands is training by himself as he tries to earn a contract with another English club.
The Dane was not offered a new deal by United after his six-month contract expired last month and is still waiting for any of the clubs who have expressed an interest in him to make an offer.
He said: “There are a few things going on and my agent is in some meetings. I have told him not to bring me along until there is something concrete.”