Newcastle United have laughed off suggestions that the club is to be bought by wrestler Vince McMahon.
The chairman and chief executive of World Wrestling Entertainment had been linked with an improbable takeover of the club this week but those within the club have dismissed the idea.
The weekend brought a fresh wave of speculation that owner Mike Ashley was prepared to sell the club having seemingly lost interest in the team’s fortunes. Ashley has not been seen at a game since September, and has not made a permanent signing in over a year, despite selling a number of players including the influential Yohan Cabaye.
Ashley has always been open to offers for Newcastle, but only if he can sell for a profit. Since buying the club from Freddie Shepherd in 2007, the sportswear magnate is yet to receive a bid that meets his expectations.
The same website which claimed Glenn Hoddle was in talks to be the Magpies’ next director of football quoted a club insider as saying: “He sees England as an untapped market for his wrestling empire. He has even indicated he could put on wrestling bouts at St James’s Park.”
Newcastle sources told The Journal on Monday there were no immediate plans to appoint a new manager, director of football or chief executive.
The Magpies have not had a director of football since Joe Kinnear resigned at the end of January’s unsatisfactory transfer window. He in turn was filling the gap left by Derek Llambias’ departure as managing director at the end of last season.
Llambias was the closest thing the club had had to a chief executive under Ashley.
The rumours about McMahon were not the only ones Newcastle were at pains to dispel yesterday. The club went as far as posting a statement on their official website denying claims that Alan Pardew would be sacked if Sunday’s match against Aston Villa was lost. The newspaper responsible for the story, the Sunday Express, has been banned as a result.
NCJ Media, which publishes The Journal, Chronicle and Sunday Sun, have been banned from Newcastle since October for what the club saw as “disproportionate” coverage of protests against Ashley’s ownership.
Meanwhile, central defender Fabricio Coloccini and central midfielder Cheick Tiote are both hoping to return from injury in Sunday’s early televised Premier League game against Villa.
Coloccini injured medial ligaments at West Bromwich Albion on New Year’s Day, and has not played since. Initially the Argentinian was expected to be out for four to six weeks.
Tiote initially captained the side in Coloccini’s absence, only to miss the last two games himself with a hamstring problem.
Newcastle have suffered badly without the pair and the suspended Loic Remy – who is also due to return at the weekend. They have conceded seven goals without reply in their last two games.
“Loic’s available, Cheick’s running well and Colo’s trained,” Pardew commented.
“Colo’s worked hard, and he’s looking better. He was in all weekend, so he’s had four or five days.”
Newcastle have lost their last five consecutive home matches, and have not scored a goal in the four games since Cabaye was sold to Paris Saint-Germain.
Remy has missed the last three matches as a result of being sent off in the 0-0 draw with Norwich City.