ALAN Shearer remains in limbo and nobody has made a firm bid to buy the club, but optimism remains high that Newcastle United will have new owners by the end of the month.
Shearer had hoped to hear news of a major breakthrough yesterday but the former United skipper endured another frustrating delay in his appointment as manager and continues to wait at home for updates.
He has not spoken to either owner Mike Ashley or managing director Derek Llambias for several days and is not anticipating a breakthrough until next week at the earliest. The relationship between Newcastle’s manager-in-waiting and its absent owner is now a frosty one.
Although Llambias had suggested earlier this week that takeover talks could have reached a stage where the new owners would be able to name Shearer as manager before the weekend, that now seems extremely unlikely as the interested parties are still looking at the books in order to put a plan in place to stabilise the club following relegation to the Championship.
Ashley and Llambias are expected to be at Royal Ascot over the next two days, which would also appear to rule out the prospect of any significant change in the situation over the next 48 hours.
However, according to Seymour Pierce, the bank in charge of the sale process, significant progress has been made this week with four groups already well into the due diligence phase following the opening of an internet data room on Wednesday.
A source close to the deal said: “We remain very optimistic that a takeover will be agreed by the end of this month. Two of the bidders have already shown they are very serious about doing a deal and possibly three of them will make an offer to Mike Ashley.”
None of those four groups will reveal their plans for the future, or even their identity, before a successful bid has been made, as all have signed a strict non-disclosure agreement which forbids them from discussing their takeover attempt.
However, although he is serious in his effort to retake control at St James’s Park, The Journal understands the consortium involving former chairman Freddy Shepherd has not managed to provide evidence it has the funds to go through with a deal, while the Singapore-based Profitable Group is also behind the four consortia who have access to the data room for a similar reason.
Meanwhile, Shearer’s hopes of keeping highly-rated centre-back Sebastien
Bassong should he finally become Newcastle manager look bleak.
Although no bid has been accepted for the young Frenchman, Bassong claims he is already talking to two Premier League clubs about a potential move back to English football’s top flight.
Even if Shearer is appointed, it is almost certain Bassong will demand a transfer, as he has already said he has no desire to play in the Championship after such a successful first season in English football.
That will be a major blow to Shearer, who had intended to fight to keep the former Metz prospect who has one year left on his contract, but the lack of progress regarding his appointment means he is powerless to do anything to stop him.
The same is true when it comes to signing players.
Shearer had a number of potential targets in mind as he quickly turned his attention to the challenge of returning Newcastle to the Premier League, but he fears they will have moved to rival clubs by the time he gets back into the manager’s office at the club’s Benton training ground.