FORMER Sunderland director Charlie Chawke admitted yesterday that he is plotting to buy bitter local rivals Newcastle.<br /><br />Chawke, part of the Drumaville consortium that bought Sunderland in 2006, said he had opened talks about buying the Magpies from sportswear tycoon Mike Ashley.<br /><br />The Irish publican faces competition from several other groups, with Malaysian and American consortia reported to be the leading contenders to buy the Championship club, which has a £100m price tag. <br /><br />“We are in talks with Newcastle at the moment. Our legal and financial people are speaking to the legal and financial people over there,” said Chawke.<br /><br />“Negotiations are not too advanced. It’s at an initial stage but we have got a fairly good response. There’s great interest, it’s just a matter of putting the money together.<br /><br />“Newcastle is a very viable option at the moment. It’s for sale for about £100m, which is about £500m less than it was worth a year and a half or two years ago.”<br /><br />Chawke added he would be joined in any bid by Louis Fitzgerald, who was also part of the Drumaville group that sold its Sunderland stake in May.<br /><br />Ashley put Newcastle up for sale for a second time after their relegation from the Premier League on the final day of last season.