ALAN Shearer is hoping for a significant breakthrough in his bid to become Newcastle United’s permanent manager after four consortia began due diligence yesterday.
Those four groups, who have shown they have the money to match the £100m asking price, were all given access to the internet data room containing the club’s financial information, although it is still not certain that any will follow that up with an acceptable bid.
It is understood Shearer is the overwhelming choice to become permanent manager, but there are still a number of potential problems ahead which may cause any takeover deal to collapse.
Although Ashley did much to clear United’s astronomical debt during his two ill-fated years on Tyneside, the club’s finances are in a perilous state following relegation, and this could scare off the interested parties as the true size of the rebuilding project reveals itself for the first time.
The Journal understands that some groups have had more trouble than expected trying to raise the necessary capital to meet Ashley’s asking price and if the club’s finances are as perilous as some fear, they will have to end their interest immediately as they simply do not have the money to buy the club and also bankroll it for at least one season in the Championship.
Nevertheless, Shearer remains hopeful a breakthrough is near, although he is not expecting to hear anything concrete before the weekend, as he has been told the interested groups need more time to inspect the books and to work on a salvage plan to stabilise the club before it can have any chance of making an immediate return to the Premier League.
Shearer has sensibly kept his own counsel during an increasingly farcical saga as he waits at home for updates on the managerial situation at St James’s Park, but his frustration hit a new high yesterday on the release of next season’s Championship fixtures.
A source close to the former United captain said: “Seeing the fixtures for the first time has only highlighted how close the new season is and what a mess Newcastle are in. Alan wants to get cracking, there is so much which needs to be done and he knows it.
“We have been told that something could happen in the next few days in terms of appointing a manager, but who knows how people are going to react when they see the books for the first time. If there are four interested people now, there might just be one left in a couple of
days time. All Alan wants is a decision. This has dragged on for far too long. Hopefully there will be a breakthrough soon because Newcastle need a manager if they are going to recover from relegation next season.”
Meanwhile, the agent of Fabricio Coloccini appears to be sending out a series of mixed messages regarding the future of the Argentina international.
Marcelo Lombilla, who has been instructed to find the centre-back a new club, insisted yesterday there were no offers on the table for the defender and described reports linking him with a move to Sevilla as “speculation”.
But, just 24 hours earlier, Lombilla claimed in Spanish Sport paper Marca that several clubs were close to signing the former Deportivo La Coruna star, who picks up nearly £80,000 a week at St James’s Park.
He said: “We are considering several offers, all of them from Europe. One of the options on the table is a club from Southern Spain.”
Newcastle have announced they will play three pre-season friendlies against English clubs with the dubious highlight a home game against former top-flight rivals Leeds United on July 29.
The Magpies will also travel to Darlington on July 18 and Huddersfield Town, managed by former United midfielder Lee Clark, on July 21. A couple of overseas friendlies are also expected to be announced shortly with Ireland the expected destination.