Friday, July 03, 2009


A strongly connected Malaysian consortium is understood to have stolen a march in the race to become new owners of crisis club Newcastle United. The group does not have any links with the Profitable Group, who expressed an interest last month but two of the VIP's are said to be well known figures whose companies have been involved in squash and football.

It has been reported that a bid in excess of £80m has been made by the group, who were given a full tour of St James's Park, the city and the training ground yesterday by managing director Derek Llambias. The group dropped in to Shearer's Bar, made their way from the city to the training complex and then from Whitley Road to Benton Road to check out the club's Academy.

The focus then moved on to the west end of London, where talks continued with Llambias and Seymour Pierce, the investment bank put in charge of the United sale.

The drama began to unfold surrounding the Malaysian consortium on Thursday after lunch when a six-strong party arrived in Newcastle at the city's heliport.

They were then whisked around St James's by Llambias, who offered them the full tour of the stadium and club offices. The tour quickly moved on to the training ground where they were shown the facilities on offer at the club's Benton HQ.

The Malaysians were spotted by players who had just finished training. And as they ventured around the training ground they also met Toon striker Oba Martins, who was undergoing treatment. The No 9 later informed his team-mates after training that the group were here to buy the club.

Then passers-by on the nearby housing estate observed that the group were shown around the club's Academy.

Newcastle have no choice but to remain tight-lipped about the identity of the group from South East Asia and the Malaysian group must also keep their counsel until the deal is completed, with neither party prepared to fall foul of the non-disclosure agreements they signed a fortnight ago.

Despite interest from a clutch of interested buyers, it is the Malaysians who are closest to signing a sales and purchase agreement, which is the legal contract that obligates a buyer to buy and a seller to sell.

The Malaysians have also completed the process of due diligence and are understood to be prepared to tackle the club's £35m overdraft and take on other commitments such as transfer instalments on players such as Obafemi Martins and Damien Duff, with Chelsea still owed £2m for the Irishman over the next two seasons.

There is also the matter of a potential compensation package for Kevin Keegan which could result in a £9m pay-out to the former Toon, England and Manchester City boss.

There has been other interest from an American group, but neither have pushed as far ahead in the queue as the Malaysians.