By Kieran Maguire

13th Mar, 2021 | 8:00am

Kieran Maguire shares £97m Newcastle takeover bombshell

The contract situation at Newcastle United is bleak and could make it difficult for Mike Ashley to sell the relegation-threatened club. 

That is according to finance guru and new Football Insider columnist Kieran Maguire, speaking exclusively after The Times revealed that Newcastle players have no relegation clauses in their deals.

These types of clauses are commonplace and only last week Sam Allardyce reiterated to his West Brom players that demotion would impact their paychecks.

For Newcastle, the cost of relegation would be amplified as they could be stuck with a Premier League wage budget – £96.8million according to their last set of accounts – on a Championship income.

And with transfer market activity down as a consequence of the pandemic, most experts forecast that relegated clubs may struggle to offload players on big wages.

Maguire also highlighted the fact that the contract situation could make it much more difficult for Ashley to engineer the sale of the club.

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He told Football Insider correspondent Adam Williams: “My main concern would be that, should the worst happen and Newcastle were relegated, it makes them less attractive to a prospective new owner because they’ll say: ‘Well, I’m buying a club which has got these white elephants.’

“That would impact on A) whether prospective buyers want to buy Newcastle and B) the price they will offer Mike Ashley.

“I wouldn’t want to pay more money because if I’ve got a player on £40,000-per-week for the next three years, that’s over £6m on someone who I’m not really going to get much of a return on.

“If the players aren’t happy, you don’t want unhappy players at the club. What are you going to do with them?”

Newcastle has been up for sale for over a decade and Mike Ashley is almost universally unpopular among fans for what perceive to be his lack of ambition.

The club is currently one point outside the relegation places, though they do have a game in hand on Fulham in 18th.

In other news, Newcastle United are among the teams interested in signing Slavia Prague striker Jan Kuchta.