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Deal for Newcastle takeover remains far from completed

Mike Ashley and Amanda Staveley remain some distance apart in their attempts to strike a deal for Newcastle despite suggestions that agreement is close, Press Association Sport understands.

Excitement levels on Tyneside rose on Wednesday amid claims that a breakthrough was seemingly imminent with Staveley's PCP Capital Partners moving inexorably towards a £300million swoop.

However, while a dialogue between the two parties is ongoing, it is understood that there are still significant stumbling blocks, not the least of which is Staveley's desire to have some form of protection should the club be relegated from the Premier League at the end of the season.

Newcastle have issued no public comment on the current situation, but sources close to the deal were insisting on Thursday that nothing substantial has changed in the last few days.

The Ashley camp has maintained a steadfast silence throughout the negotiations having signed non-disclosure agreements with a series of prospective buyers, among them PCP, and there was no word from Staveley's side either after the latest episode in what is rapidly becoming a saga.

However, insiders have revealed sportswear magnate Ashley is growing increasingly frustrated at the information which has leaked out, some of which they believe has been interpreted in overly-optimistic fashion.

Crucially, the lines of communication remain open and there is a willingness on both sides to do business, but the deal currently on the table is yet to meet Ashley's approval.

Significantly, it is understood that there has as yet been no approach to the Premier League to begin the process of ratifying a potential new owner, meaning the current owner's hopes of clinching a sale by Christmas are looking forlorn unless there is a substantial shift in the next few days.

Even if that proved to be the case, any deal could not now be completed until the mid-January at the earliest, further hampering manager Rafael Benitez's ability to strengthen his squad in the winter transfer market.

Suggestions that Ashley could fund a recruitment drive and then be reimbursed by news owners following completion are not beyond the bounds of possibility, but negotiations would have to have advanced significantly further for that to happen.

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