PETER KENYON’S torturous takeover attempt is typical of the chaos engulfing Newcastle both on and off the pitch. The former Manchester United and Chelsea chief executive’s interest in buying the Toon first became public in September. But four months later

Peter Kenyon’s Newcastle takeover bid reflects chaos engulfing club on and off pitch

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  • 2019-01-11 05:50:12 1 years ago
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PETER KENYON’S torturous takeover attempt is typical of the chaos engulfing Newcastle both on and off the pitch.

The former Manchester United and Chelsea chief executive’s interest in buying the Toon first became public in September.

 Peter Kenyon's Newcastle takeover bid reflects the chaos engulfing the club on and off the pitch

But four months later, Kenyon is still scrabbling around for investors to raise £300million to take the club off Mike Ashley’s hands.

And fans must now fear that, should his consortium somehow get the keys to St James’ Park, it is not going to be the game-changer Newcastle need.

Of course, most of the Toon Army would be happy with  anyone but Ashley in charge — and they are encouraged by  Kenyon’s reputation in the game.

But if he is struggling to find funds at this stage, what cash would there be to purchase players and push Newcastle up the  Premier League?

 Kenyon is struggling to find investors to join his takeover group

Kenyon’s proposed takeover has been the talk of the Toon ever since Ashley announced last month he was closer than ever to a sale.

Then, it was hoped a deal could be completed by the New Year.

But Ashley’s Sky News interview was met with scepticism from  supporters, who saw it as a tactic to not put money in this month.

That led to last week’s leaking of a letter Kenyon sent him before Christmas — an attempt to prove the Sports Direct tycoon is a  willing seller despite what some fans think.

 Mike Ashley is still in charge and not putting any money in for transfers, angering fans

In the letter, Kenyon declared his delight that Ashley viewed his investor group as “the best fit” to buy him out.

He admitted to being “frustrated” at the slow progress but had a “serious determination to finalise the agreement as soon as possible”.

Kenyon confirmed he had “invested heavily in time and money on various legal and financial advisors”.

But it increasingly seems like that letter was just a bid to buy more time. SunSport revealed last month Kenyon was still £100m short of Ashley’s asking price, weeks after he had been allowed to look over the books.

We now understand he is searching for backers who can invest £1m each — and even then he would only be able to pay Ashley in  instalments staggered over the year.

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Sources insist there is another party which is  interested in buying Newcastle.

But they are said to be in a similar boat to Kenyon’s  consortium —  a group of  investors rather than one wealthy individual.

It all leaves the troubled Toon in a state of flux in what is a critical month, as they need to seriously strengthen their squad to steer clear of relegation.

Indeed, manager Rafa Benitez declared in December that  Newcastle would need a “miracle” to stay up — a comment which did not go down well inside the  corridors of power.

But while he  is desperate for new signings, Benitez is involved in another stand-off with club chiefs over his contract.

The Spaniard’s deal expires at the end of the season but, just like last summer, the Newcastle  hierarchy want him to extend his stay before they release any major money.

Benitez currently has no interest in penning fresh terms and is expected to walk away in May — unless this takeover takes place.

 This month could end up defining Newcastle's season

Benitez appears to have given up hope and his negativity, plus the uncertainty behind the scenes, has seeped through to the players who have made some alarming admissions in recent days.

Midfielder Matt Ritchie declared “the whole place just lacks belief” in reference to the Toon’s  performances and the atmosphere at St James’ Park, where they have only won twice all term.

Then forward Ayoze Perez stated “something is wrong” at the club and it was a “strange thing” — but he was unable to pinpoint what.

Newcastle legend Alan Shearer hit the nail on the head in his SunSport column on Monday when he said his beloved club feels “flat and lifeless”.

And the Magpies’ record goalscorer is rightly worried about their survival hopes as they sit only two points clear of the drop with just one win from their last nine games in all competitions.

The fans who make the long trip to Chelsea tomorrow — and the 52,000 who will pack into St James’ for next weekend’s visit of Cardiff — are now only doing so out of habit.

For there is no enjoyment left in following this football club.

There is no doubt something needs to change at Newcastle and quickly.

But Kenyon is doing little to convince that he is the man — or has the means — to turn the tide on the Toon.

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Peter Kenyon’s Newcastle takeover bid reflects chaos engulfing club on and off pitch

Burnley boss Dyche insists there have been no enquiries for Hart or Tarkowski

Burnley boss Sean Dyche says the club have not received enquiries about Joe Hart or James Tarkowski.

It was reported this week that Preston had asked the Clarets if Hart – recently dropped from the starting line-up – or fellow goalkeepers Tom Heaton or Nick Pope were available on loan for the rest of the season, and been told the answer was no.

The Lilywhites subsequently signed Connor Ripley from Middlesbrough.

Defender Tarkowski, meanwhile, has been linked with Liverpool.

Dyche said on Thursday when asked about Hart: "We haven't had any enquires, for anyone by the way – because there are other strange stories knocking around, bizarre ones."

He added, with regard to Liverpool's reported interest in Tarkowski: "I'm not suggesting it's rubbish. I'm suggesting it's a new one on me."

Having played in Burnley's first 19 Premier League games this season, summer signing Hart was demoted to the bench following the 5-1 Boxing Day defeat against Everton.

Heaton has featured in the two league matches since – both of which Burnley won – and last weekend's 1-0 FA Cup victory over Barnsley saw last term's first-choice stopper Nick Pope back in the side for the first time since dislocating his shoulder in July, with Hart again a substitute.

Dyche, whose men host Fulham on Saturday, said: "He (Hart) had done very well overall.

"The only thing I hadn't changed was the keeper. Sometimes I have to get to a point where you go 'I have to change something', and that was the last piece I hadn't changed in the jigsaw.

"It is a risk and reward scenario when you change the keeper. Tom's done well. It doesn't make Joe not a top keeper, because he is a top keeper and a top pro as well.

"He accepted it, moves forward. He's an absolutely top-class professional. After the games Tom has played, he's been the first to congratulate Tom.

"That's the challenge of being a keeper. It's very tough.

"We think we have three very, very good keepers and two support that group as well. I'm happy to have them all. When the decision comes, then it will be a big decision. But that's the way it goes."

Dyche said of Pope: "He did a very good job but still needs a few more games to really be on top of himself I think.

"It's a planned return. Popey is kind of midway through his own sort of mini pre-season, on the games programme that is. He's been training with us for a while now, probably four weeks out on the grass.

"He's played one under-23s game, got the first game under his belt in the cup, and still needs more match time, because that is what you would have pre-season when you have been out for so long.

"Extenuating circumstances aside, when you might have to do things... We're not in that position at the moment, so therefore he'll be given the time to be as right as you can possibly be."

While Heaton looks set to return to the team on Saturday, Dyche has said there is "a strong chance" at least one of Phil Bardsley and Matt Lowton, both of whom have been nursing knocks, will be ready to come back in.

Johann Berg Gudmundsson (thigh) is a doubt, and Aaron Lennon (knee) and Robbie Brady (suspension) remain unavailable.

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Arnautovic 'is not for sale' – West Ham stand firm after £35m bid from China

West Ham have insisted Marko Arnautovic is not for sale after his agent claimed the Austrian forward wants to move to China.

A Chinese Super League club, believed to be champions Shanghai SiPG, are understood to have launched a £35million swoop for Arnautovic, the Hammers' top scorer.

The club will attempt to lure Arnautovic, who turns 30 in April, with wages understood to be £200,000 a week over a four-year contract.

Arnautovic's brother Danijel, who also acts as his representative, revealed that the player wants to leave and urged West Ham to sell.

But a Hammers spokesperson said: "Marko has a contract and we fully expect him to honour it. He is not for sale."

Manager Manuel Pellegrini had earlier said he was determined to keep Arnautovic, who has scored eight goals this season, including three in his last two matches.

But Danijel Arnautovic, who has agitated for a move for his brother before, issued a statement to talkSPORT in which he claimed the striker has a "great desire" to go to China.

"West Ham bought Marko for peanuts," the statement read. "They paid £20million for him, which is nothing in the current market.

"They bought him to keep them in the Premier League last season and he did that. He took every award at the club; best player, signing of the season and the players' award.

"Now West Ham have a fantastic offer. It is close to double what they paid for him.

Marko Arnautovic was taken off after only 20 minutes against Birmingham (Steven Paston/PA).
Marko Arnautovic was taken off after only 20 minutes against Birmingham (Steven Paston/PA).

"He wants to go to a new market and challenge for titles. This is what he wants.

"It is his great desire that West Ham accept the offer from China.

"He knows the West Ham fans love him and he has a special connection with them, but things move on, this is the world of sport and he hopes they can understand.

"Until he is no longer a West Ham player, he will give everything to the club. He hopes the fans can respect his wishes."

West Ham United manager Manuel Pellegrini (Chris Radburn/PA).
West Ham manager Manuel Pellegrini is determined to keep hold of Arnautovic (Chris Radburn/PA).

Pellegrini, who substituted Arnautovic against his will after only 20 minutes in Saturday's FA Cup win over Birmingham, had earlier shrugged off the speculation.

"Those are all rumours," Pellegrini said. "We know that we have a very good player in Marko, a lot of clubs may want him to play for them.

"I don't want to talk about things that might happen. Marko in this moment is a player of our team. Players of his quality and other players like Declan Rice, Felipe Anderson, other clubs will want them, but that is one thing. I don't think they will go.

"I want to keep him, of course, but you never know what might happen in the future."

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