Magpies sale process gathers pace

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Mike Ashley is refusing to get involved in a bidding war as his quest to sell Newcastle gathers pace.

The Magpies owner, having confirmed his asking price for the club is £100million, is unwilling to become involved in an auction. But his desire to sell is such that the first party to put the money on the table will be handed the reins to end a disastrous stay of a little more than two years at St James' Park.

It is understood there have been four or five serious enquiries since Ashley's intention to sell emerged last weekend. Sources close to the Singapore-based strategic global investment company the Profitable Group, who were linked with a move for Newcastle in September last year, today confirmed their interest in the club.

The group, whose Strategic Sports Investment wing is behind Liverpool's trip to South East Asia this summer, have former Reds and England midfielder Steve McMahon as their group commercial director, and would install Alan Shearer as manager.

Shearer would be given significant, if not outlandish, transfer funds with which to rebuild his squad for life in the Coca-Cola Championship.

There has been no official confirmation from the Profitable Group, although potential buyers will be required to sign non-disclosure agreements before they are provided with financial details.

But, although they are the first to emerge from the pack, there is interest elsewhere and, with Ashley looking for a swift resolution to an issue that has become increasingly problematic, individual competitors may have to formally declare their interest soon if they are to strike the decisive blow.

The Profitable Group, founded in 2004 and with offices in Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Toronto, Jakarta, Bangkok and Manila, cite their core values as "responsibility, accountability, credibility and excellence", all attributes that have been in short supply within the walls of St James' in recent times.

Shearer returned from a short break in Portugal on Monday still waiting to hear if he would be appointed manager after holding discussions with both Ashley and managing director Derek Llambias since the end of a traumatic Barclays Premier League season.

However, PA Sport understands the current regime, despite an increasingly furious clamour from the club's fans, are unlikely to make an appointment, with several of the interested parties having indicated they would want to make that decision themselves.

Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.

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Premier League
Newcastle United
Alan Shearer
Steve McMahon

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