Stewart Donald explains why he bought Sunderland, not Newcastle United

Stewart Donald explains why he bought Sunderland, not Newcastle United

Mike Ashley challenges prospective Newcastle buyers to show him the money

Ashley and his representatives have never publicly named their price for the club, but it is unlikely to be sold for less than £300m.

Sky Sports News understands that aside from purchasing the club, prospective buyers must also prove they have the funds to take the club forward.

In February, a new Premier League TV rights deal for the UK for 2019-2022 was secured with broadcasters Sky and BT paying a combined £4.5bn, £500m less than the total they paid for the previous three-year deal. However, with more matches made available for broadcast, Amazon said it would livestream 20 matches a season online, following an agreement with the Premier League, the value of which was not disclosed. The economic outlook of all English top flight clubs has been highly dependent on traditional broadcasters but the prospect of digital players entering the arena helps strengthen it.

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Newcastle have a bitter experience of relegation in recent years, having dropped down to the Championship twice since Ashley first invested in the club in 2007. Before their last relegation, for the 2015-2016 year, the club made a profit after tax of £4m on revenue of £126m. For the period, its matchday revenue was £25m, broadcasting brought in £73m, with commercial and other income at £28m. During the 2016-2017 financial year, in which the club played outside the top flight, Newcastle made an operating loss of £90m.

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