Jamaal Lascelles reveals Newcastle 'home truths,' takeover not completed
Jamaal Lascelles says Newcastle are not yet engaged in a fight for Premier League survival, while Press Association Sport reports that Mike Ashley and Amanda Staveley remain some distance apart in their attempts to strike a deal for the club.
Newcastle slipped to a seventh defeat in eight games when they lost 1-0 to Everton at St James' Park on Wednesday evening, and they have not won in the Premier League since they beat Crystal Palace on Oct. 21.
Their latest setback came as reports surfaced that Staveley's proposed takeover is nearing completion, although Press Association Sport sources close to the deal have since said fans' celebrations were premature.
In the meantime, manager Rafael Benitez and his players face the task of keeping Newcastle in the top flight with just one point separating them from the bottom three ahead of Saturday's trip to Arsenal.
Asked if the club are already battling relegation, Lascelles said: "No, not yet. A lot of people would probably have been happy with the points we are on if they were asked at the start of the season, so I am not going to say we are in a relegation battle.
"There are still loads of games to play. It's a long season. We are not looking at that, just taking things game by game."
Newcastle will head for the Emirates Stadium knowing they will have to improve significantly if they are to end their barren run this weekend, and with few punches having been pulled in the dressing room after the final whistle on Wednesday.
Lascelles said: "There were a few home truths said. I don't want to leave it too late for things like that to be said. The reality is we are not in a great position and sometimes things need to be said that players do not want to hear. Hopefully it will get a reaction."
Lascelles added on the proposed takeover: "We're not focusing on that. It has nothing to do with us."
Excitement levels on Tyneside rose on Wednesday amid claims that a breakthrough regarding a takeover was seemingly imminent with Staveley's PCP Capital Partners moving inexorably towards a £300 million swoop.
However, while a dialogue between the two parties is ongoing, it is reported that there are still significant stumbling blocks, not the least of which is Staveley's desire to have some form of protection should the club be relegated from the Premier League at the end of the season.
Newcastle have issued no public comment on the current situation, but sources close to the deal were insisting on Thursday that nothing substantial has changed in the last few days.
The Ashley camp has maintained a steadfast silence throughout the negotiations having signed non-disclosure agreements with a series of prospective buyers, among them PCP, and there was no word from Staveley's side either after the latest episode in what is rapidly becoming a saga.
However, insiders have revealed sportswear magnate Ashley is growing increasingly frustrated at the information which has leaked out, some of which they believe has been interpreted in overly-optimistic fashion.
Crucially, the lines of communication remain open and there is a willingness on both sides to do business, but the deal currently on the table is yet to meet Ashley's approval.
Significantly, it is understood that there has as yet been no approach to the Premier League to begin the process of ratifying a potential new owner, meaning the current owner's hopes of clinching a sale by Christmas are looking forlorn unless there is a substantial shift in the next few days.
Even if that proved to be the case, any deal could not now be completed until the mid-January at the earliest, further hampering Benitez's ability to strengthen his squad in the winter transfer market.
Suggestions that Ashley could fund a recruitment drive and then be reimbursed by new owners following completion are not beyond the bounds of possibility, but negotiations would have to have advanced significantly further for that to happen.