Tuesday, December 15, 1998 Published at 14:42 GMT
Business: The Company File
Newcastle in £160m takover
The club has had problems on and off the pitch
Football club Newcastle United has confirmed that it has been approached about a possible £160m takeover bid for the company.
This suggests another media company may be the potential bidder - some of which are known to be interested in Premier League club ownership as a counter to BSkyB in future TV rights carve-ups.
Media companies Granada, Carlton, United News & Media and Time Warner of the US have all been speculated as possible bidders, along with local firm Scottish & Newcastle Breweries.
Alternatively, some analysts say controversial directors Freddie Shepherd and Douglas Hall, majority shareholders in the club, may be preparing a bid that would privatise the company in their hands again.
Don't bank on it
He said that football takeovers were inevitable once the clubs joined the stock market. However Mr Banks told the BBC: "The football fans feel that they are not involved in the process whatsoever. As a football fan as well as a sports minister, I don't really believe that football can be treated like any other economic product...to be bought and sold like motor cars of refrigerators. There is more passion involved."
Not fans of the deal
Fans were also sceptical about the potential takeover.
Kevin Miles of the Newcastle United Independent Supporters Association, said: "Nobody should be under any illusions that any company comes in to buy a football club as a favour to ordinary fans."
Ongoing rumours surrounding ownership of the club had earlier resurfaced with the Daily Mail newspaper reporting that Sony had made a 160p per share bid last week.
Shares in the club jumped 15% in early trade on the rumours, prompting the club to make a statement to the stock exchange.
The statement said: "The company confirms that a preliminary approach has been made which may or may not lead to an offer for the club."
The club said it understood that any offer would not be much over 110p a share.
At 1150 GMT, Newcastle shares had fallen sharply to 100p from an earlier rumour-fed rise to 120p.
The club's direction has been under a cloud in the wake of the resignation from the board and later reinstatement of Mr Shepherd and Mr Hall . They were forced out in July over disparaging comments they made about players and fans became public.
However, the two voted themselves back onto the board last week prompting the resignation of chairman Denis Cassidy and directors John Josephs and Tom Fenton.
Newcastle United was floated on the share market last April at a price of 135p a share.
Any offer is unlikely to materialise for weeks, if not months.
The Company File Contents