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Is a title challenge possible for Man Utd?

Manchester United
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By ESPN Staff

Newcastle christmas sale

Keith Harris, the man charged with selling Newcastle United, has revealed that he is in talks with seven parties who are interested in buying the club - and believes they will change hands by the end of next month.

The Seymour Pierce chairman was asked to broker a deal to sell the Magpies after owner and sportswear magnate Mike Ashley put the club up for sale exactly one month ago.

South African businessman Jonathan Cleland has declared his interest in the club and a Nigerian consortium is also thought to be preparing to lodge a bid.

Harris would not disclose who the interested parties are, but claimed he was in talks with seven consortia.

"It's been a month of extraordinary turbulence in all the world's financial markets but we've been progressing with this, we've been sieving and sifting," he told Setanta Sports News.

"We've been talking to a shortlist of interested parties. There are seven parties with whom we are still having talks.

"There isn't an official deadline but we all know what importance people have in respect to the transfer windows.

"We would expect any new buyer to be in place with his manager to have the opportunity to assess the team as to what needs to be done in January.

"Somebody would want four to five, maybe six weeks to do that, which takes us broadly to the middle of November."

Media reports last week suggested that Ashley had dropped his asking price amid fears that the club were struggling to find a buyer due to the 'credit crunch'.

Harris rejected that claim, adding: "When newspapers get hold of stories and can't get the figure they want they just invent one.

"Nobody I know knows where the £450million figure ever came from.

"So it's not been a question of dropping the price from that level. It's been a question of making sure people have the absolute facts.

"Like, for example, there is no debt in this football club. Mike Ashley paid off the debt. No reduction in price has been talked about to anybody.

"Mike wants to get a maximum price but he also wants to make sure that it goes into hands that will look after it.

"He wants to go into hands that want to look after it and nurture it for the future."

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