Ashley puts Newcastle United up for sale

Mike Ashley has put Newcastle United up for sale and is said to be keen to finalise a deal before the turn of the year.

Newcastle United's St. James' Park stadium   -  Getty Images

Newcastle United has officially been put up for sale by owner Mike Ashley.

The Premier League club released a statement on Monday confirming the decision on the grounds it needs "a clear direction and a path to a bright and successful future".

It is believed Ashley is eager to complete a sale before the New Year.

"As one of the Premier League's oldest and best supported football clubs - and for the benefit of its many fans and supporters in the UK and across the world - Newcastle United requires a clear direction and a path to a bright and successful future," the statement from parent company, St. James' Holdings Limited, said.

"To give the club the best possible opportunity of securing the positioning and investment necessary to take it to the next level, at what is an important time in its history, its present ownership has determined that it is in the best interests of Newcastle United and its fans for the club to be put up for sale.

"To give an incoming owner the maximum possible flexibility to make meaningful investment in the club, including in its playing squad, the sale process will give interested parties the opportunity of deferring substantial payments.

"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."

Reports have circulated for some time that Ashley has been prepared to sell, with entrepreneur Amanda Staveley one of the main figures linked with a possible takeover.

The 53-year-old has been a divisive figure during his 10-year spell as owner, during which Newcastle has twice been relegated from the Premier League.

Former club captain and Premier League record goalscorer Alan Shearer welcomed the news on Twitter, along with a number of supporters.

Newcastle's 2-2 draw with Southampton on Sunday means Rafael Benitez's side is ninth in the top flight after eight matches.

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