Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley has reportedly added further complications to his plan for selling the club, after refusing to offer a 'relegation payback' clause that would see investors receive some of their money back should the Magpies slip down a division.
In recent seasons, the Sports Direct tycoon's lack of investment in the club has seen him become a highly unpopular figure with the Toon Army, who have launched a number of protests to express their dissatisfaction with his leadership. After spending a pittance on new players in the summer, Newcastle currently lie 14th in the table - just two points off bottom place.
As reported by the Daily Mail, a group of wealthy Americans are apparently capable of meeting Ashley's £300m valuation of the club, but are concerned by his reluctance to insert a relegation payback clause in the deal. Should the Magpies tumble into the Championship, the value of the club will significantly depreciate, which has made potential investors wary of getting involved.
As the fans' wrath grows more intense by the week, Ashley has stepped up his efforts to improve his image, and has attended the club's last seven matches, and even treated the players to a 'bonding dinner' in an Italian restaurant. However, it is likely to take more than paying for Salomón Rondón's fettuccine arrabiata to win back supporters' trust.
As a deal looks unlikely to be struck any time soon, it had previously been reported that Ashley had agreed to sign some new players in the upcoming transfer window. However, it is unclear how much money has been put aside to fund the purchases. Arguably, the squad needs strengthening across the board, given the stark lack of quality available to Rafael Benítez.
In other news, Benítez has admitted his frustration at losing defender Paul Dummet to injury ahead of his side's Premier League clash against Burnley. The Wales international aggravated a hamstring injury while on international duty, and the Magpies manager claimed his player had overexerted himself trying to impress his national team boss Ryan Giggs.