Mike Ashley asking price ‘over the odds’ for Newcastle as Amanda Staveley takeover talks continue

Mike Ashley
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A football finance expert has revealed what Newcastle United are really worth - and it may surprise fans.

Rumours of a potential Toon takeover have been rife, with hedge fund boss Amanda Staveley understood to have opened informal talks with the club’s top brass after attending the recent 1-1 draw against Liverpool.

That follows reports suggesting Newcastle owner Mike Ashley is willing to lower his asking price from £400 million to £380million.

But Dr Daniel Plumley, an academic who studies football finance, suggests the Magpies are actually worth HALF that amount.

Dr Plumley, of Sheffield Hallam University, said: “That asking price is arguably over the odds.

“Current brand value, based on factors such as league standing, revenue potential, fan base and global exposure, has Newcastle valued at around £190-200million.

“This is almost double that, so I would argue it’s a high asking price.

“It’s probably also linked to what Mike Ashley has injected in with regards to his own funds and trying to recoup some of that which is fair enough, but based on market brand values it might be tough to achieve that figure.”

A deal struck for the amount estimated by Plumley would represent a profit of around £70million for Ashley on his original £134 million purchase of United 10 years ago.

But that is without taking into account the money Ashley has also committed on an interest-free loan basis.

Staveley, who heads investment banking and financial advisory services firm PCP Capital Partners, holds a personal net worth of around £110 million according to the Sunday Times Rich List, while her company has global assets worth over £28billion.

The 44-year-old is no stranger to football takeover deals – she helped to broker the deal which saw Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al-Nahyan purchase Man City in 2008, and also attempted to buy Liverpool twice.

Suggestions of a new owner on Tyneside has brought a glimmer of hope to the United faithful, who are disenchanted with Ashley. And Staveley’s presence at the Liverpool game only added fuel to the fire.

But why has Ashley struggled to find a buyer? Dr Plumley believes the owner himself could be a factor.

He added: “I’m speculating slightly here, but probably due to some of the negative press surrounding Ashley and the current structure of the club plus the high asking price.

“Another issue is league stability. When the club dropped into the Championship the brand value would have reduced somewhat.

“It’s now back up because of Premier League status but the club need to stay there to keep the value high and maximise revenue from TV rights and commercial opportunities.”

And while a takeover might seem like a straightforward process, Dr Plumley believes that it is more difficult than ever to take control of a Premier League club.

“There are more regulations now in terms of Financial Fair Play which limit owner investment to a certain degree,” he said.

“Because of some of these regulations the ‘big six’ are pulling further away in revenue terms from the rest and it is really difficult to compete and catch that pack.

“Any potential buyer or investor must be prepared to build incrementally and look at longer term strategic decisions in the current market. That said, there are still good potential growth opportunities for clubs particularly in the overseas market.”