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Mike Ashley may finally sell Newcastle as rumours swirl of Chinese takeover

• Club owner has not moved to deny reports of interest from unnamed investors
• Sale would end Sports Direct mogul’s largely unpopular 10 years in charge

Mike Ashley finally appears ready to sell Newcastle United after 10 turbulent, often unpopular years in charge, following the club’s promotion back to the Premier League. It is unclear how solid the reality is of the Chinese investors rumoured to be interested in buying Newcastle, given that overseas football takeovers have now been restrained in China, but it is seen as significant that Ashley has not moved to deny reports.

In recent years Ashley has moved strongly to reject periodic reports that he is preparing to sell the club, which he bought for £134m from Freddy Shepherd and Sir John Hall’s families in 2007, but this time Newcastle merely offered no comment. One of Ashley’s key operators in his Sports Direct businesses, Justin Barnes, was increasingly seen at St James’ Park last season, adding to perceptions that Ashley might be preparing the club for a sale.

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