Newcastle United are up for sale at the right price – and there has been interest from China this week after news broke.

Two new potential Chinese investors have expressed an interest in Newcastle United since news that Mike Ashley is open to offers broke on Monday.

Two groups based in the Chinese city of Shenzhen have made enquiries about United’s price and willingness to sell in further evidence that Ashley’s decade-long grip on Newcastle is closer than ever to being loosened.

The Sunday Sun has been told that Monday’s leak was partly to smoke out interest in the club – and the timing of it was designed to extract potential maximum return for Ashley, who is letting it be known that he is interested in either selling or inviting interest in a stake of Newcastle.

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It’s understood that United are still some way off a takeover or investment being completed but Alexander Jarvis, chairman of Blackbridge Cross Borders – a company that has advised on several potential Chinese takeovers, confirmed the news of United’s willingness to sell had piqued interest in China. US groups are also interested.

“I have been contacted by two groups from Shenzhen since news that Newcastle are available came out on Monday,” he confirmed to the Sunday Sun.

“This is a bit of a fishing trip from Newcastle: trying to find out whether there is interest from China and there is definitely global interest in Newcastle. The price that is being put around is a high one but Mike Ashley will feel he can get that sort of money for it. There are serious people who are still interested in Premier League football and it’s not quite as complicated as people in England sometimes think.

“There is interest in Newcastle in Asia – it has a fanbase in Hong Kong, Malaysia, China. And of course they have a world-class manager in Rafa Benitez and Premier League football, which makes them appeal.”

Jarvis is not working on behalf of Newcastle at the moment – with another group of brokers understood to be sourcing interest on behalf of the club. But he says the people who contacted him ARE interested in acquiring a slice of United.

Through his company Blackbridge Cross Borders Jarvis brought Chinese billionaires to the North East LAST season in an attempt to broker deals for Middlesbrough and Hull City. Boro’s Steve Gibson turned down a £50million offer last season.

Fears that Newcastle’s transfer business is being affected by takeover talk can be dismissed. Newcastle have money to spend and are hopeful of making progress this week – and are not overly concerned about the delay in the Tammy Abraham deal.

One of the factors delaying business is the number of players Newcastle need to move on. Up to eight players who played significant numbers of games this season may go but United know their wages are a sticking point for many interested Championship clubs.

And any worries about Rafa Benitez’s future whatever happens with ownership can be calmed, too. Rafa Benitez’s presence in the dug-out is being seen as a major reason for interest in China, where his popularity and cache is considerable.

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