Ashley puts Newcastle United on the market
Newcastle United, of English soccer's Premier League, have been put up for sale by owner Mike Ashley, the UK sports retail tycoon.
Newcastle, based in the north east of England, were promoted to the top-flight last season, having been relegated to the second-tier Championship twice in the 10-year tenure of Ashley (pictured, right).
A club statement said: "Newcastle United requires a clear direction and a path to a bright and successful future.
"To give the club the best possible opportunity of securing the positioning and investment necessary to take it to the next level, at what is an important time in its history, its present ownership has determined that it is in the best interests of Newcastle United and its fans for the club to be put up for sale."
Earlier this month, Amanda Staveley, the head of Middle Eastern investment company PCP Capital Partners, was at St James' Park for the Newcastle vs Liverpool game, which prompted talk of a potential bid for the club.
In 2007, Staveley played a part in the failed takeover of Liverpool by a group of Dubai-based investors and last year she was involved in the joint share offer by Chinese company Everbright Limited, which was ultimately rejected by the north-west club's current owners FSG.
The businesswoman was also instrumental in UAE billionaire Sheikh Mansour’s takeover of fellow Premier League giants Manchester City in 2008.
Ashley is not popular among Newcastle fans, having previously dropped the famous St James' Park name for the club's home ground in favour of the Sports Direct Arena, after the sports retail chain he founded, pending a permanent sponsorship deal.
That deal lasted 12 months before the Sports Direct branding was removed.