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Last Updated: Tuesday, 21 August 2007, 10:41 GMT 11:41 UK
Newcastle play down buy-out claim
Newcastle United
Newcastle have dismissed reports that new owner Mike Ashley is ready to sell the club to an Icelandic consortium.

Reports from Iceland said billionaire sports retail magnate Ashley held talks with Palmi Haraldsson and Jon Asgeir Johannesson over a 135m-plus takeover.

However, a club spokesman was swift to play down the claims, saying: "This is pure speculation. These stories are complete news to the club."

A spokesman for Ashley has declined to comment on the rumours.

Ashley formally completed his 134.4m swoop for the club in June this year.

Chris Mort, the man Ashley installed as his chairman following Freddy Shepherd's departure, has spoken of the new owner's long-term plans for the Premier League outfit.

Ashley reportedly ploughed another 30m into the club last week in an attempt to address the 80m debt he inherited on his arrival.

He succeeded where both the Jersey-based Belgravia Group and the Polygon-backed St James' Park Group had failed when he persuaded the Hall family to part with their 41.6% holding in return for 55m.

His takeover was all but complete when Shepherd's 28%-plus stake was secured for another 37m.

New Magpies manager Sam Allardyce, who had been appointed by Shepherd, had already started his team rebuilding plans.

He invested heavily, bringing in Joey Barton, David Rozehnal, Alan Smith and Jose Enrique among others, although the sales of Scott Parker and Kieron Dyer to West Ham mean the outlay to date this summer is about 7m.

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