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Newcastle fans boosted by Mike Ashley's decision to sell the club

Newcastle owner Mike Ashley has put the club up for sale
Newcastle owner Mike Ashley has put the club up for sale

Newcastle fans are hoping Mike Ashley's decision to formally put the club on the market will finally allow it to fulfil its potential.

It was announced on Monday evening that the billionaire businessman wants a sale before Christmas as he prepares to end his controversial decade-long stay on Tyneside.

Mark Jensen, editor of online fanzine www.themag.co.uk, shares the scepticism of many fans with Ashley twice before having offered the club for sale with no success.

However, he is keeping his fingers crossed that a deal is done this time and the club can build upon an encouraging start to life back in the Premier League under Rafael Benitez.

Jensen said: "It's a dream scenario that if a new owner could come in at this point on the back of having the best manager we have had in some years since Sir Bobby (Robson) and Kevin Keegan, somebody who is clearly doing a great job in very difficult circumstances.

"You just think, if only he had had that bit more backing in the summer, what results and what performances we would be getting now.

"He is getting everything he can out of what he has, but at the end, there's a glass ceiling on what you can achieve.

"But it's just great and if you are looking at a potential owner, you want somebody who would mirror the professionalism of Rafa Benitez. That's the dream, having an owner and management team that off the pitch would just get on and back him and give him everything he needs.

"Then you just wonder what Newcastle could achieve."

Newcastle fans expected Ashley would invest heavily in the team when he took over in 2007, but for much of his reign, spending has been strictly on a budget and there are hopes that a new owner would sanction investment on a much more significant level.

Jensen said: "You see what's happened at Manchester City - and of course that's on a whole different level to pretty much any club - and they have invested in the infrastructure of the football club and the whole community.

"That would be a dream, especially at a place like Newcastle-upon-Tyne where in the north-east, we have been hit most of all by the whole economic side of things.

"The football club, like nowhere else, is so intertwined with the city of Newcastle. It's at the heart of the city and having somebody running the football club who would be pushing the club and pushing the whole area would be just such a massive boost for everybody."

However, the general feeling from supporters is that they will await developments over a sale before they start to get excited.

Jensen said: "Mike Ashley, the way that he runs the club, time and time again it has been shown that that's not always in the best interests of the supporters, certainly, and the outcome is rarely what you thought it was going to be.

"Basically with experience, I suppose the phrase is, 'Believe it when it happens'."

On the city's streets on Tuesday, reaction to the news was mixed.

Doug Lester, 57, said: " We need someone who is a bit more responsible, someone who treats people with a bit of respect."

However, Tony Hendon, 66, said: "He is a businessman, not a sportsman and I think he has done well for us. We need one of these billionaires, whoever they are, that would be good for Newcastle.

"The stadium here is priceless. Whoever buys us is getting a bargain, over 50,000 every week."

Press Association

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