Can an old foe from Sunderland offer troubled Newcastle fresh hope?
13 July 2009 08:15
Irish publican Charlie Chawke, a leading member of the group which bought Sunderland three years ago, has entered the race to buy Newcastle United.
Chawke, who was part of the Drumaville Consortium which sold its Sunderland stake to American-based investor Ellis Short earlier this year, said talks on purchasing the Wearside club's troubled Championship rivals were at an early stage.
Newcastle owner Mike Ashley has officially put the club up for sale for £100 million and one consortium from Malaysia has twice visited St James's Park with managing director Derek Llambias.
A group from the United States are believed to be in pole position, while former Liverpool and England midfielder Steve McMahon is heading a group from Singapore.
Chawke said: `We are in talks with Newcastle at the moment. Our legal and financial people are speaking to the legal and financial people over there.
`Negotiations are not too advanced. It's at an initial stage but we have got a fairly good response. There's great interest, it's just a matter of putting the money together.'
Chawke said he hoped to assemble a group of investors of similar size to the eight that bought Sunderland and that fellow former shareholder and publican Louis Fitzgerald was part of the new consortium.
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He was a regular visitor to the Stadium of Light, particularly during Roy Keane's reign, and said that both did not wish to leave Sunderland but were outvoted when Short bought the group's stake in May.
Chawke added: `We had three great years there but unfortunately we're gone now and we're looking for options. We have to look at options other than Sunderland and Newcastle would fit very nicely into our portfolio.
`Newcastle is a very viable option at the moment. It's for sale for about £100 million, which is about £500 million less than it was worth a year and a half or two years ago.'