Buyers run rule over Newcastle books

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Newcastle are effectively in a holding pattern as prospective buyers continued to study the books.

Interested parties were granted access to the club's financial documentation on Wednesday having proved to the satisfaction of investment bankers Seymour Pierce that they have the cash to meet owner Mike Ashley's £100million asking price.

In that respect, there are bids on the table, although there is still a long way to go before any offer could be formalised or accepted, and sources close to the deal have indicated no announcement is imminent.

However, that does not mean progress is not being made, although the identities of the competing consortia and just how far down the line they are respectively remain a matter of some speculation.

Those parties who have reached the point of due diligence - the process of going through the books - have been required to sign non-disclosure agreements which prevent them from making any comment.

Indeed, only the Singapore-based Profitable Group has confirmed its interest, and that on June 10 since when there has been no further word.

At least four consortia are understood to have been in formal contact with Seymour Pierce chairman Keith Harris, the man handed the task of selling the club by Ashley, although it is understood several more may have made approaches.

Groups from South Africa, Oman and the United States, as well as Singapore, have been linked with the club, while former chairman Freddy Shepherd too has more than a passing interest in the race to buy out Ashley.

In addition, no deadline has been imposed and there remains the possibility the successful candidate may be yet to declare its hand, although the current regime is keen to complete its exit as quickly as possible.

Ashley's desperation to get out is understandable with the city's evening newspaper, the Evening Chronicle, reporting he faces another £10million bill at the end of this month to cover player bonuses for last season.

In addition, it is understood the latest instalments of the deals which brought Damien Duff and Obafemi Martins to St James' Park are also due.

But as the minutiae of the sale is examined in private by various accountants, Shearer's wait for news on his own position is ongoing.

The need for a managerial appointment was brought into sharper focus by the release of the fixtures for the new Coca-Cola Championship season, and that need continues to grow with the players due back for pre-season training on July 1.

Things are finally starting to move on the football front with the Magpies having also confirmed three pre-season friendlies - at Darlington and Huddersfield and at home to Leeds - yesterday, with more to come.

Just how much of an input Shearer has had on that is unclear, although he did discuss his blueprint for the summer and beyond in detail with Ashley and managing director immediately after the end of the last campaign.

Llambias suggested earlier this week the 38-year-old could be appointed within days if all the consortia agreed he was the man for the job, and while the indications are that there is consensus on the issue, hopes that he could be in place by the end of this week seem ambitious.

Meanwhile, defender Sebastien Bassong, one of the men Shearer would like to keep, has revealed he is in talks with two English clubs over a move after being linked with Arsenal, Tottenham and Sunderland, among others.

The 22-year-old Frenchman told Aujourd'hui Sport: "I have started to negotiate with two English clubs."

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

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Tottenham Hotspur
Huddersfield Town
Newcastle United
Obafemi Martins
Damien Duff
Leeds United
Sebastien Bassong

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