Sir John Hall is adamant that there is interest in Newcastle United and that Mike Ashley is ‘serious’ about selling – however he feels that it would cost potential new owners £700-£800m to buy the club and ‘bring success’.
The 85-year-old sold his 41.6% stake in the club to Ashley for £55m back in May 2007 – a decision he may be living to regret – however he states that Ashley told him his intentions were to ‘take the club forward’ when he took over.
It’s exactly a year on from the day he officially put the ‘for sale’ signs up at St James’ Park, but, as we know, we’re still stuck with him – with Amanda Staveley and PCP appearing to be the only party that came remotely close to securing a deal over the past 12 months.
Here’s what he’s at a Newcastle Legends event this week, insisting that Ashley is ‘serious’ about selling:
“I think he is serious in his intention to sell, but there aren’t many people with the sort of money to buy it off him. There certainly isn’t in the North East, anyway,”
“There has definitely been interest in the club, I know that, but clearly nobody has yet given him the price he wants.
“If you have fallen out of love with your business, you have to sell – and I think Mike’s fallen out of love with Newcastle.
“If someone wants to buy a football club, they will come along and do it. It won’t be a long, drawn-out process done in public.
“But, until someone offers what Mike wants – whatever figure that is – then the club won’t be sold.”
He then offered an insight into the struggles new owners may be facing if they took over at NUFC, claiming it would cost over double the asking price (of £300-£400m) to actually turn us into a force again and make us competitive as a club:
“People coming into football now do so not because they love football, but because they smell money,”
“But, when it comes to Newcastle, you will need to spend £300m or £400m to buy the club, and then another £500m over five years to really make the club competitive if you want to change Newcastle’s fortunes.
“It’s not just about who comes along; there has to be success or they have to be able to bring success.”
This is something which may be off putting investors? Whoever replaces Ashley will be seen as a god-like figure initially, but there’ll also be huge pressure to then deliver success – and there’s not many people with the money to deliver that given how tough it is to crack that top 6.
Finally, Sir John opened up about what Ashley told him when buying the club back in 2007 – with him insisting that he planned to ‘take the club forward’ while growing his business in East Asia:
“He had the intentions of taking the club forward. That’s what he told me, anyway’
“He told me he wanted to use the club to help grow his business in East Asia, which I thought would benefit everyone because it would mean Newcastle United would gain a wider fanbase, and grow too.
“But things went wrong – he received some back advice which led him to make poor decisions – and he’s never been able to wrestle that back. I’m sad it hasn’t happened how he thought it might.”
A brilliant insight from Sir John Hall.
Let’s hope someone with real money ready to match Ashley’s asking price can turn up sooner rather than later.