Last night, a statement by Mike Ashley announced that the club was officially up for sale. Since then, the NUFC owners lawyer has spoken out about the situation in quite a revealing interview on Sky Sports.
The statement said that ‘ a process will now commence of identifying new ownership for the club that will be capable of delivering the sustained investment in and dedication to the club that is necessary for it to achieve its ambitions’, with the announcement also revealing that Ashley would be prepared to defer ‘substantial payments’ to help ‘interested parties’ complete a deal.
Positive signs that he’s very much intent on selling this time around.
In reaction to the big news, Sky Sports ran quite a revealing interview last night with Andrew Henderson – the lawyer for Mike Ashley’s financial vehicle St James’ Holdings – and he had the following to say:
“There has obviously been a lot of press speculation about Mike’s intentions towards the club.
“I think that there is a view that over the years there has been a considerable investment, perhaps a feeling that all that can be done has been done.
“So it is probably just a recognition that it might be time for a change.
“Our intentions at the moment are to see if the club can be brought forward into new ownership by potentially Christmas.
“That would allow for a period for serious interested parties to put themselves forward, for a diligence process to carry on, and then hopefully by Christmas for a sale to conclude with the sort of flexibility around terms we have discussed.
“If that weren’t possible then there is no desire to sell the club for any price to anyone. There is a lot of responsibility that goes with owning the football club so we would then look at that at the relevant time.
“That’s the objective but nobody has a crystal ball so nobody can say for sure what happens and when.
“I think back to the question of price, it will depend on what somebody is prepared to pay for the club.
“Football clubs have a scarcity value, nobody is making 150-year-old football clubs with the kind of traditions that Newcastle United have so obviously there is value there but then in terms of what the number is that will be dictated by how many people, how many serious people are interested, how many serious people can deliver and so we then get to how long will that take, how long do we give them.
“I think that is a matter for negotiation but certainly not all in year one so that’s how we would be approaching it.”
— Sky Sports News (@SkySportsNews) October 16, 2017
A few interesting insights from Ashley’s trusted lawyer here.
As you can also see in the above video, Henderson suggests that funds would be made available to the club in the short term (January transfer window) if Ashley had not found a buyer by the end of the year.
It seemed unlikely that Ashley would ever back Rafa this winter given his future almost certainly lies elsewhere, however Henderson has reiterated the importance of the club being ‘put in the best possible position going forward’, meaning it’s in Ashley’s interests to support the club in the short term to make us as attractive as possible to potential buyers.
It all sounds too good to be true doesn’t it. Here’s hoping we get our wish!