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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Nov 23, 2008

Toon takeover may have to wait until Feb

Newcastle are unlikely to be sold until February if a deal is not done inside the next three weeks.

Keith Harris, the man charged with the task of finding a buyer by current owner Mike Ashley, has confirmed his suspicion that the current economic climate and impending transfer window mean a sale may not go through until well into the new year.

Harris, chairman of investment bank Seymour Pierce, told BBC Radio 5 Live on their Sportsweek show: "What I have said in the past is, if you put yourself in the position of a prospective owner of Newcastle or any other football club, you want to be there and have had a chance to work with the manager to decide on what should happen to the playing staff, both coming out and going in.

"If that isn't the case, you probably want to wait and see how the activity was in January, so you would defer it until February.

"We are nudging now towards mid-November and unless it is going to happen in the next couple of weeks, maybe three weeks, it is probably likely to be deferred until after the close of the window, when also people have got some hopes that the financial chaos will have settled down a little.

"It's my gut feeling, but it is no more than gut. I have got nothing tangible to base it on other than that instinct.

"I don't think there is anything negative in that, it is force of circumstances."

Ashley engaged Harris' services in September amid a popular revolt over manager Kevin Keegan's departure.

The former England boss walked out in a furious response to the way in which the club had conducted its summer transfer dealings, with Spanish striker Xisco and Uruguayan midfielder Ignacio Gonzalez arriving on the final day of the window without his knowledge when he had hoped to recruit up to four players of proven quality.

The supporters launched an angry campaign against Ashley and, in particular, executive director (football) Dennis Wise, and the billionaire's response was to announce his decision to sell just 16 months after taking over at St James' Park.

He has since appointed Joe Kinnear as interim boss, and the 61-year-old revealed after Saturday's draw at leaders Chelsea that he had been handed another month-long deal.

That in itself suggested - as has grown increasingly apparent in recent weeks - that a sale is not imminent despite interest having been expressed by two American consortia.

Harris said: "With Newcastle, the situation is relatively straightforward. The last month to six weeks has been, in the financial markets, the worst that anyone can ever remember, without any real sign, any tangible sign, of them getting better.

"The people that have either approached us, or we have approached and have responded positively, are no less affected.

"Whether you are worth £20billion, £10billion, you were probably worth a great deal more six weeks ago.

"People are being exceptionally cautious. The thing that has come in our favour is a strong performance of the US dollar, particularly against sterling, which means that it (buying an English club) has become much cheaper. We are hoping that comes to fruition.

"Obviously, we also have a transfer window coming up, the only chance a club has to amend its playing staff materially during the course of the season, and that will be playing on potential new owners' minds right now."

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