Ashley enlists Harris for his Geordie exit

SEYMOUR Pierce yesterday confirmed it had been appointed to achieve a rapid sale of Mike Ashley&rsquo;s football club Newcastle United.<br /><br />Keith Harris, chairman of the City broker has advised on a number of football deals, including playing a pivotal role in selling Chelsea to the Russian tycoon Roman Abramovich in 2003.<br /><br />If the sale of Newcastle goes ahead at the slashed price tag of &pound;100m it will take Ashley&rsquo;s total losses over the past 12 months to around &pound;840m. The asking price is &pound;34m less than Ashley paid for the club two years ago, and since then he has ploughed &pound;110m into the north east team. Newcastle&rsquo;s relegation from the Premier League means the club stands to lose reveneus of at least &pound;30m a season.<br /><br />Ashley tried to sell the club in September after mass protests from fans following the exit of glorified manager Kevin Keegan. But, unable to find a buyer for the club at the price of &pound;400m, he took it off market.<br /><br />There had been some interest from various consortia, as well as from former chairman Freddy Shepherd, but no firm takeover offers.<br /><br />Last week Ashley netted &pound;4.5m from selling his 4.5 per cent stake in rival JJB Sports, but it is barely enough to cover three weeks of players&rsquo; wages. But shares in his own retail chain, Sports Direct, have rocketed by 150 per cent since November last year.