Newcastle extend bid deadline

NEWCASTLE: Newcastle moved closer Monday to a takeover which could see Alan Shearer installed as manager when the club extended a deadline for local businessman Barry Moat to make a bid.

The move will be seen as a signal that current owner Mike Ashley would still prefer to sell the club rather than hang on and hope that it will secure an immediate return to the Premier League, which would make a sale much easier.

The extension has been granted to allow Moat, who heads one of three consortia interested in buying the club, more time to prove to the club's bankers, Barclays, that he can finance the club's 39 million pound overdraft facility.

Sports retailer Ashley bought the club for 134.4 million pounds (155 million euros) in 2007 but is not expected to raise more than 100 million from a sale in the current economic environment.

According to local reports, Ashley will not cut his asking price below 100 million and could yet opt to retain the club.

Moat has signalled that he will install Shearer, the club's record scorer, as manager if his takeover bid is successful. The former England striker took charge for the last eight games of last season but was unable to inspire an escape from relegation and Ashley is known to harbour reservations about his lack of experience as a coach.

Chris Hughton, who is currently acting as the club's caretaker manager for the third time, is interested in the manager's job and has boosted his credentials by guiding Newcastle to three wins and a draw in their first four Championship matches.

That has left them join top of the table and generated a feelgood factor around St James' Park.

But there is concern that, after offloading nine first-team players to cut the club's wage bill, Newcastle's squad could be vulnerable to injuries later in the season. With only a week left until the end of the summer transfer window it seems unlikely that significant reinforcements will be brought in before January.