By Russell Edge

31st Oct, 2017 | 3:00pm

'Extraordinarily unlikely' - Top executive delivers verdict on Newcastle takeover talks

By Russell Edge

Former Liverpool managing director Christian Purslow has said that he does not expect the ongoing takeover talks at Newcastle United to be finished before the end of the current season.

The Magpies were officially put up for sale by St James’ Holdings Limited, the firm fronted by current owner Mike Ashley, and talks have been progressing since.

The Chronicle stated earlier in the week that five parties had signed non-disclosure agreements to further discussions with Ashley and his team over securing a deal for the north east club, although reported that interest from China had lessened.

However it was said that Amanda Staveley, who is fronting a move from PCP Capital Partners, is currently in a period of due diligence with the club, as she and her people examine the business assets, and that such developments have progressed smoothly.

Ashley is said to be hoping to secure a deal before Christmas but according to top executive Purslow that is going to be a tough ask for both the Sports Direct supremo and the potential investor.

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Speaking on Sky Sports News’ programme The Business on Monday (30/10) evening, he said: “It’s clear Mike Ashley wants out. He wants out as soon as possible.

“They’ve been relegated twice and he doesn’t want to take a risk of that happening again, hence the very unusual measure of announcing a quick sale and also staged payments.

“My feeling as an experienced mergers and acquisitions guy is that selling Newcastle in the next six weeks looks extraordinarily unlikely.

“If I was a betting man, I’d think it will be sold by the end of the season – not by Christmas.

“It’s in Mike Ashley’s interest to do this quickly. Newcastle is top half of the table, they’ve got one of the world’s top coaches there – somehow, some way Rafa Benitez is still working at Newcastle United.”

Ashley has been at the helm of the Tyneside club for a decade, having bought out Sir John Hall and Freddie Shepherd back in 2007, and despite a positive start to life at the club, it has been a tumultuous time since.

Several decisions and controversies, such as the renaming of St James’ Park and the sacking of club icon Kevin Keegan, has mired his time in the north east and as such fans will likely be happy to see the back of him if and when he departs.

In other Newcastle United news, Rafa Benitez has delivered a worrying update on the future of this star player.

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