Toon bids expected by end of next week

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Prospective bidders for Newcastle have been given until October 17 to register a firm interest.

It is understood the consortia currently looking to buy the club have been told they will have until a week on Friday to show their hands as owner Mike Ashley awaits bids.

Investment bankers Seymour Pierce, under the guise of their chairman Keith Harris, have been handed the task of selling the business and have been contacted by at least eight interested parties.

There was speculation a deadline had been set for Tuesday for serious bidders to make formal approaches, although it is understood they have 10 more days in which to do so.

That, however, could mean the completion of any sale may not take place until the end of November as potential purchasers carry out due diligence and plan for life after Ashley at St James' Park.

Interim manager Joe Kinnear hinted at as much on Friday when he forecast his reign, rather than being six to eight matches, could run to 10 or 12.

Ashley signalled his intention to offload the club he bought for £134.4million on September 14 in the wake of concerted protests over his regime. Fans responded after Kevin Keegan's resignation as manager, citing interference from boardroom level in the club's recruitment policy.

The billionaire, accompanied by managing director Derek Llambias, executive director (football) Dennis Wise and vice-president (player recruitment) Tony Jimenez initially flew to Dubai in an attempt to lure Middle Eastern investors to the north-east.

However, after receiving little encouragement there, Ashley turned to Harris in the hope his experience of finding buyers for Barclays Premier League clubs would prove invaluable.

Ashley is thought to be looking for a figure of around £280million to £300million for the club in which he has invested a total of around £250million during his 16 months at the helm.

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