Luke Edwards of The Telegraph is reporting that Mike Ashley is looking to sell Newcastle United as he pursues a larger stake in Rangers F.C. Ashley is currently involved in the operations of Rangers, but according to Edwards, UEFA rules will prevent him from owning more than 10% of the club as long as he also owns Newcastle.
Mike Ashley has sought to sell the club many times in the past, famously declaring right before the Toon's Championship season that purchasing the club was a mistake. However, a buyer willing to take on the club has yet to step forward, and the presumed reason is the large sum of money (£139.8 million, according to one report) that he has loaned the club interest-free. It is not known whether rebranding St James' Park as Sports Direct Arena at no cost for several months (not to mention the numerous Sports Direct signs) will decrease that amount for any potential buyer, but it's still got to be a formidable sum.
One potential buyer that will likely prove unpopular is one Freddy Shepherd, who was part-owner before Ashley took over. He expressed interest to The Chronicle in April in buying back in, saying, "I keep my finger in the pie." Our own poll taken at that time showed Newcastle fans would prefer Shepherd to Ashley, but certainly this would be a case of jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire.
We've seen this song and dance before. It's the part of the news cycle where papers print things that fans want to hear. It's a longshot that Mike Ashley will find a buyer, and I refuse to let myself believe it until the new owner is pictured holding a shirt.