Mike Ashley places Newcastle United up for sale, wants deal done before Christmas

Mike Ashley's decade long ownership of Newcastle United may finally be reaching it's conclusion after the Londoner placed the Premier League side up for sale on Monday.

Releasing a statement through St. James Holdings Limited, Ashley conveyed the message that he finally realises it's time to go, with fans having grown frustrated at a supposed lack of investment during his time at the club.

Part of the statement read; "As one of the Premier League's oldest and best supported football clubs - and for the benefit of its many fans and supporters in the UK and across the world - 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."

Fans likely to celebrate

The news will be greeted positively by the majority of Newcastle fans who have voiced their displeasure at Ashley for much of his tenure, believing that his lack of investment and 'hire then fire' policy regarding manager's is what has directly contributed to two relegation's from the Premier League under his watch.

There has been a high league finish of sixth a handful of years ago, but league progress has never been met with a cup win as Newcastle's major trophy drought continues.

Fans will also celebrate the news as it logically increases the chances of popular manager Rafa Benitez staying for the long term.

Ashley has had friction with a number of bosses since taking up ownership of the club and it's been no different with Benitez, the Spaniard unhappy at not having a certain degree of elbow room in the transfer market this summer.

It had led to reports, to fans' horror, that Benitez would take a job at West Ham United were the Hammers to sack Slaven Bilic, Benitez feeling somewhat indebted to the London club after he turned them down at the last minute to take charge at Real Madrid a few years back.

Those reports are likely to die down if new ownership is found for Newcastle, with Ashley looking to have a deal completed by Christmas and an almost certain profit on the £134 million he paid for the club in 2007.

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