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Volume 7 No. 149
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Newcastle United Owner Mike Ashley In Talks To Sell Club

Premier League club Newcastle United Owner Mike Ashley "revealed he is in advanced talks" to sell the club, confirming rumors that have been circulating within St. James’ Park for the last few days, according to Luke Edwards of the London TELEGRAPH. Non-disclosure agreements were reportedly signed last month and "at least one of the interested parties" is believed to be "wealthy enough to do the deal without complications in terms of the asking price." However, the issue "is clouded by the fact that Ashley denied he is in exclusive talks with one group." It is thought there are "at least two bidders who have proven they are serious about buying the club and both are keen to maintain secrecy" in order to get the deal done. Ashley’s comments, though, "have caught one of them by surprise and there is a suspicion it may be a negotiating tactic." Ashley, who is asking for more than £300M ($381.4M) to "sell up," confirmed that he is "in talks and would like to get the deal done before the January transfer window opens." He said, "I am hopeful -- for the Newcastle fans, for the club, for everybody, that I will be able to step aside and we will be able to get an owner in that will please everybody" (TELEGRAPH, 12/3). In London, Craig Hope reported the notion of Ashley using sales talks as "a ploy to appease supporters ahead of the January transfer window has been dismissed," and there appears to be "genuine optimism for the first time that a sale could go through, even if the sports retail tycoon would like talks to accelerate." One name which has been doing the rounds is that of NFL Atlanta Falcons and MLS Atlanta United Owner Arthur Blank. The 76-year-old is said to be worth nearly $5B. Sources close to Ashley "have neither denied nor confirmed Blank's involvement" (DAILY MAIL, 12/4).

'NO MERIT': The ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION reported Blank’s investment arm is denying reports he is in talks to purchase Newcastle United. ABM Group CEO Steve Cannon said that there is "no merit to the reports" (AJC, 12/4).