Newcastle United in limbo as Mike Ashley walks away from takeover talks

Newcastle owner Mike Ashley (left) and managing director Lee Charnley
Newcastle owner Mike Ashley (left) and managing director Lee Charnley
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Mike Ashley has walked away from talks with Amanda Staveley – after labelling discussions a “waste of time”.

Newcastle United’s owner yesterday put out a statement through an associate which claimed that there was “no deal on the table” from Staveley’s PCP Capital Partners.

Staveley, however, maintains that a written bid for the Magpies was submitted in November.

Ashley – who put Newcastle up for sale in October – was understood to have become frustrated with a series of leaks and briefings from Staveley’s side.

There were hopes of a successful conclusion to takeover discussions when Staveley, Ashley and mutual friend Richard Desmond, a newspaper publisher, were all photographed leaving an Indian restaurant in London last month.

However, it is understood that Ashley had not gone to the restaurant to meet Staveley, a Dubai-based financier who was involved in Sheikh Mansour’s takeover of Manchester City in 2009.

And the billionaire has become increasingly agitated at stories suggesting Staveley had made improved offers for the club he bought a decade ago.

Ashley’s statement came hours after a newspaper owned by Desmond claimed that Staveley was tabling an offer “in excess of” £300million.

A source close to Ashley said: “It’s only right to let the fans know that there is no deal on the table, or even under discussion, with Amanda Staveley and PCP.

“Attempts to reach a deal have proved to be exhaustive, frustrating and a complete waste of time.”

Ashley had wanted to sell the club by Christmas to enable a new owner time to invest in this month’s transfer window.

Magpies manager Rafa Benitez, keen to strengthen several key positions for the second half of the Premier League season, last week claimed that he was still waiting to hear how much money he had to spend on reinforcements.

Benitez – who has submitted a list of potential targets to the club’s hierarchy – will be given limited funds to spend on players this month, with the loan market seemingly his best hope of adding quality to his squad.

Newcastle are 15th in the table – and three points above the relegation zone – ahead of Saturday’s trip to leaders Manchester City.

The club is seemingly now in limbo, and many supporters fear that Benitez, tired of fighting for money for transfers, will not see out his contract at St James’s Park, which runs until the end of next season.