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Newcastle United FC news: Mike Ashley wants £400m to sell up – leaving Rafael Benitez in the dark over future

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Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley has effectively taken the club of the market after making fresh demands of £400 million to any prospective buyers.

Back in October it was revealed Ashley was looking to sell the Magpies, conducting a meeting with Amanda Staveley in a curry house.

The Sun exclusively reported Staveley and her equity company PCP Capital Partners were willing to buy the club, but negotiations ground to a halt with massive fluctuations over the value.

The sportswear tycoon offered a straight sum of £350 million in a take it or leave it deal, but the company was only willing to pay £300m that included penalty clauses conditional on Newcastle staying in the top flight and also the on-going HMRC investigation into the clubs contract payments.

American Staveley is a close friend of Rafael Benitez and the former Real Madrid boss was hoping a takeover would grant him a transfer war chest capable of climbing up the Premier League table.

But the £400m valuation of the club has put Staveley off and a deal looks no closer to completion.

Benitez is hugely popular on the Toon

The Newcastle owner said on Monday he hoped Benitez would remain in charge at St James Park and promised him every penny generated by the club.

He said: “"I would like to thank Rafa Benitez for his magnificent achievement this season. I would also like to applaud the players, led fantastically by the captain Jamaal Lascelles.

"On many occasions throughout the season, they have been described as a Championship side, which I personally consider to be derogatory.

"Rafa, as always, has my full support, and contrary to some media reports that portray me as a pantomime villain, I will continue to ensure that every penny generated by the club is available to him. I hope very much that Rafa will remain at Newcastle United.

"Finally, I would like to thank the fans for their unrivalled support of Rafa and the team throughout the season."

The Spaniard replaced Steve McClaren in March 2016, having been sacked as Real Madrid boss after seven months earlier in the season.

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