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Ashley sells £100m Sports Direct stake

Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley has sold a 4% stake in his Sports Direct retail company for £100 million, sparking speculation that some of that money could be used to strengthen the Toon squad in the summer.

Ashley has seen his club's fortunes turn around after sanctioning the arrival of five new players during the January transfer window following a difficult first half of the season.

Manager Alan Pardew praised the owner for giving the go-ahead to the new arrivals after warning that his side would face a struggle to avoid relegation without new acquisitions.

Independent retail analyst Nick Bubb suggested that if Ashley had been intending to extend his retail empire, he could have done so without selling the shares.

"I think he is doing it to improve liquidity in the stock - he doesn't need the money and, if he was intending to bid for retail assets, he would do that through Sports Direct," he said.

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