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McMahon group plans Newcastle bid

SINGAPORE-based investment company the Profitable Group has emerged as a leading contender to buy Newcastle United from beleaguered owner Mike Ashley.<br /><br />The company, whose board includes former Liverpool and England midfielder Steve McMahon, is said to want to retain Alan Shearer as manager. The Profitable Group has previously been linked with buying the Magpies, who were relegated from the Premier League last month, but denied interest.<br /><br />However reports yesterday said the company was preparing an offer and ultimately wanted to turn the club into a Barcelona-style trust, in which fans have a major say in its running.<br /><br />Ashley is desperate to sell after two chastening years at the helm at St James&rsquo; Park and is asking for &pound;100m &ndash; &pound;34m less than he paid.<br /><br />He has engaged football takeover expert Keith Harris, chairman of investment bank Seymour Pierce, to find a buyer, and was ridiculed earlier this week for inviting offers direct to the club via email.<br /><br />Shearer, the club&rsquo;s record goalscorer, took over for the last eight games of the season. He is thought keen to stay but a permanent deal is on hold while ownership is resolved.