Wednesday 22 May 2019

Kenyon forming consortium to buy Newcastle

Peter Kenyon. Photo: PA
Peter Kenyon. Photo: PA

Louise Taylor

Peter Kenyon is attempting to form a consortium capable of buying Newcastle United from Mike Ashley. The former Manchester United and Chelsea chief executive is now a director of Opto Advisers, a sports consultancy business, and is believed to have held outline preliminary talks with Ashley.

Although Kenyon is reported to be negotiating with, among others, the New York company Rockefeller Management, things are at an early stage. Moreover, the football club takeovers that actually go through tend to be handled extremely discreetly, with Abu Dhabi's deal to purchase Manchester City perhaps the best example. When takeover stories are leaked, as details of Kenyon's bid have been, it is often either an attempt to smoke out interested investors or a highly effective way of generating publicity.

That said, sources are adamant Kenyon's offer is genuine and would involve him assuming a senior executive role at St James' Park as Ashley's troubled 11-year tenure ended. Kenyon is said to believe that there is an excellent opportunity to multiply Newcastle's still untapped commercial revenues, both within England and overseas - the club command a significant international following.

In order to fulfil this blueprint, though, Kenyon would need to be supported by a consortium of investors and he is understood to have used his contacts to float the idea with assorted businesses and individuals, private equity firms among them. Kenyon also has established close bonds with some key Chinese investors in European football.

Ashley has tried to sell Newcastle at regular intervals since 2007 but his £400m asking price has been seen as a key obstacle.

After more than a year of failing to attend the team's games, the Sports Direct owner watched Rafael Benitez's side draw 0-0 at Crystal Palace last weekend and yesterday was in St James' Park for their defeat to Leicester.

Despite being keen to sell up Ashley is unlikely to be impressed by the leaking of his talks with Kenyon as he has always made a point of demanding discretion from those interested in buying him out and is said to be suspicious of anyone who lets information slip.


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