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Global financial crisis hits Ashley's price tag

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Mihir Bose | 14:06 UK time, Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Has the financial collapse made Newcastle owner Mike Ashley moderate how much he wants for the club?

Little more than a week ago, Ashley wanted about £450m - now I understand a figure of between £280m and £300m could be enough.

In July 2007, Ashley paid £133m for the club and has since cleared off the loans, making a total of £243m.

That means that if he were to get £300m, it would still leave him with a profit of £50m, which is also the sort of profit Thaksin Shinawatra made out of Manchester City over a similar period of time.

If that happens, it will not be bad business.


As many as five bidders, including a Nigerian consortium, may be interested but just expressing an interest does not make a bid.

For that, a buyer must show they have the money, and even that is only the first of several hurdles to clear before step before the sale takes place.

The bidding process promises to be complicated and may be quite long

Ashley's financial advisers Seymour Pierce, led by Keith Harris, has drawn up what is called a non-disclosure agreement which bidders have to sign.

They are then given the chance to look at the important Newcastle documents in a data room which has been set up for potential bidders at the legal firm Freshfields.

Newcastle is a private company and Ashley has no shareholders to consult before accepting a bid.

In that sense, the club's value is whatever he can get for it on the market.

But how do you value the club?

The present valuation of the stadium is about £150m.

It holds 52,000 fans, 35,000 of them season-ticket holders, and despite last week's attendance for the Carling Cup tie with Tottenham, it is usually a near sell-out.

There are also fixed assets round the ground owned by the club and a squad worth around £100m, with a wage bill of £70m - not impossible by Premier League standards.

The club makes a profit and all this means Newcastle is being touted to potential buyers as a unique football club

Sceptical fans may mock such claims but Ashley and his advisers are keen to make the club look as attractive as possible to get the sale done at a price which still leaves Ashley comfortably off.


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