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Soccer-Newcastle owner wants club sold before January window

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By Reuters
Soccer-Newcastle owner wants club sold before January window
FILE PHOTO: Football - Newcastle United v Valencia - Pre Season Friendly - St James Park - 08/09 - 9/8/08 Mike Ashley - Newcastle United Owner Mandatory Credit: Action Images / Lee Smith/File Photo   -   Copyright  AI Project(Reuters)

(Reuters) – Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley wants to sell the Premier League club before the January transfer window and told Sky News on Monday that talks on a deal had made promising progress.

Ashley, who is also majority shareholder at sportswear retailer Sports Direct, said in October he had not received any acceptable offers for Newcastle a year after he officially put the club up for sale.

Asked on Monday if it was realistic for Newcastle to be sold before the transfer window opened on Jan. 1, Ashley said “possible” was a more accurate word but he was hopeful of stepping aside to find an owner “that will please everybody”.

“I’d like it to be before the January transfer window,” he said.

“Realistic? It’s possible. Realistic is maybe too strong a word. Hopefully we can carry on our recent good form and get the deal done.”

Newcastle had a difficult start to the season under Rafa Benitez but three wins in a row moved them up the table before a 3-0 home defeat by West Ham United at the weekend.

They are 15th in the standings with 12 points from 14 games.

Ashley, who bought a controlling stake in the club in 2007, said he was not in exclusive talks with any party but confirmed they were “in a more progressed stage than they’ve ever been”.

He added that any potential buyer must be able to provide transfer funds.

“I’m very keen to sell it to the right buyer so that everybody’s happy,” he added. “That would be good news.”

(Writing by Ken Ferris; Editing by Nick Mulvenney)