£150m rescue plan for Newcastle

LONDON: Claims that a five-man consortium lead by an unknown north-east businessman launched a £150m bid for Newcastle United appear to be a hoax.

Earlier today, a press release on behalf of 'Rick Parkinson' claimed he had put together a group of investors with £150m to takeover Newcastle United, a deal which was said to include £30m for new transfers.

The offer stipulated £90m for the club, £10m below his asking price, plus £30m for restructuring the business and a £30m war-chest for Alan Shearer, who was to be installed as the club's manager on a permanent basis.

The mystery consortium cited investment bankers Seymour Pierce as responsible for handling the sale, and claimed the bid would be ready within 10 days. But neither the club nor well-placed sources in the city were aware of 'Parkinson', the consortium, or the takeover bid, and further inquiries revealed that the press release is most likely part of a hoax.

In reality, Seymour Pierce chairman Keith Harris is understood to have opened talks with up to four different prospective purchasers for Newcastle. The latest of them is the Singapore-based Profitable Group, which confirmed its interest earlier this week. But other interested parties are thought to have made greater progress as Ashley attempts to end his stay on Tyneside as soon as possible.