Toon for sale?

REPORTS in some newspapers this morning suggested that Newcastle United owener Mike Ashlay is willing to sell the club for £420million.

The Toon supremo is reported to have named his price last month when a New York finance company made an approach to buy the club.

Ashley is said to have told private equity investors InterMedia Partners - based in the swanky Chrysler Building - he wanted 420m to seal the deal.

The Sun newspaper reported the Americans' interest was so serious, that owner Ashley permitted them to see all of Newcastle's financial documents, accounts and records.

And both sides were forced to sign gagging orders, banning them from ever disclosing details of the talks.

The newspaper quoted an 'insider' as saying: "The Americans specialise in investing in sport and wanted to break into the soccer market in Europe.

They thought Newcastle would be the ideal starting place for them."

Speculation has been rife in City markets for the past six months that mega-bucks Ashley has been on the lookout for a buyer - if the price was right.

The Yanks were hoping Ashley would sell at around 320m ? and were shocked when the Toon owner wanted 100m more.

The 'insider' added: "As soon as Ashley asked for 420m the deal was dead.

"The Americans were interested but didn't think they could justify that level of investment."