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Newcastle owner Mike Ashley challenges Barry Moat to buy club for 80 million

18 Oct 2009 12:01:20

Newcastle owner Mike Ashley challenges Barry Moat to buy club for  80 million

The sports retail tycoon surprisingly went on the offensive by laying down a gauntlet to Moat and slashing his asking price for the Championship club by £20 million in a desperate attempt to sell St James' Park. Ashley, who said Moat had been "driving me mad for two years", wants his prospective buyer to play for the club in one lump sum rather than offering half of the new asking price now with the rest to follow next summer. "Barry Moat has been driving me mad for two years," Ashley said. "If he wants to buy the club, he's got a one-off opportunity to come up with the cash - £80m upfront. "I have to put £20 million a year into the club - I spend more than every other fan put together puts into the club each year. If you can't pay upfront to buy the club, you can't afford it." Should his takeover succeed, Moat's priority would be to install former club skipper Alan Shearer, a close friend, as his manager despite his ill-fated eight-game rein in charge last season that culminated in relegation from the Premier League. Ashley snubbed Shearer following the demise and has indicated that he will appoint caretaker manager Chris Hughton on a long-term basis if Moat fails to take the club off his hands. That is even though Newcastle have lost pole position in the Championship promotion race to West Bromwich Albion, with their last three games yielding just two points, following Saturday evening's 1-0 defeat at Nottingham Forest. "Chris deserves a shot at the title," Ashley said. "He has done a great job. But if I keep the club I will have the final say on players. I am the one who has to fund the club." Ashley, who bought Newcastle for £134.4 million two years ago, believes his club would be worth at least £150 million if Premier League football is restored toTyneside. Ashley, who made his fortune thanks to the Sports Direct company he founded, makes not secret of the fact that he wishes he had never bought the club from the Hall and Shepherd families. "Of course I regret it," Ashley said. "I never said I was an expert in football clubs. I tried my best. But I accept my best was woefully short."


Telegraph

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