Ashley finally quells rumours of flogging Newcastle
Mike Ashley has ended speculation that he is ready to sell Newcastle by insisting the club is not for sale at any price for the immediate future.
Rumours have been rife that the sportswear magnate was preparing to offload the club he bought in 2007 and snap up cash-strapped Rangers instead.
However, the Magpies moved yesterday to dismiss the claims, in the process banning the Daily Telegraph for its coverage of the story.
A statement said: "The truth is, Mike Ashley remains committed to Newcastle United.
"For the avoidance of doubt, this means that for the remainder of this season and at least until the end of next season, Mike Ashley will not, under any circumstances, sell Newcastle United at any price.
"The club cannot be stronger in stating its position on this matter."
The news may come as a blow to Ashley's most vociferous critics, who still rail against his treatment of Kevin Keegan and Alan Shearer, his decision to twice appoint Joe Kinnear to positions of power at St James' Park, his renaming of the stadium and the sponsorship deal struck with payday lender Wonga.
But above all, supporters remain furious at a perceived lack of ambition, with comfortable Barclays Premier League survival the major focus.
Ashley has rationalised the club's operations to the point where they are self-sufficient, a far cry from the position in which he found Newcastle when he snapped them up for £134.4million and then had to make interest-free loans totalling around £129million.
Ashley has twice tried to sell the club and in effect, it has been available for much of the last six years, although no credible buyers have emerged and there is no potential deal in the pipeline.