Is now the perfect time for Mike Ashley to finally sell Newcastle?

Regardless of league status, this summer is the ideal window in which to sell his stake in the North-East club.

The Telegraph report owner Mike Ashley is not expected to be present at St. James Park this Sunday for what is being described as one of the biggest games in Newcastle United’s Premier League history.

Following a disastrously poor season on Tyneside, the intensity surrounding the ownership of Newcastle will reach boiling point in the cauldron of St. James Park serving as the backdrop to a must-win game for The Magpies.

The company line given is that Ashley does not want to distract fans or players away from the task at hand but speculation is rife that there may be more to his absence than simply avoiding angry supporters.

Whilst Ashley’s long-term business plan has brought financial stability to a club that was once haemorrhaging money at a frightening rate, his frugality has led to widespread criticism at the clubs lack of ambition.

Regardless of relegation, it seems this summer that Newcastle is destined to be sold as Ashley ventures into pastures new.

The billionaire recently stumped up £200 million for a property deal in West London (as per The Telegraph) which could be worth up to £900 million in due course.

On top of this, the 50-year-old also sold his Sport’s Direct London offices in a £44 million deal, as per The Journal.

Property development has become a far more lucrative business and for Ashley, it could be viewed as a bigger source of profit without the rigours of the media spotlight and a city baying for his blood.

Should Newcastle find themselves playing Championship football this August, the club will have lost up to £70 million through relegation and with the books at St. James Park in a much healthier state than their last Football League stint, a buyer would be much easier to find.

Since the club’s return to the Premier League, Ashley’s strict business model has always brought with it the safety of their status, except for a similar but less serious battle with relegation in 2013.

This season has proven that the retail mogul and his board have gotten things badly wrong at St. James Park and with the strict FIFA Fair Play rules being relaxed in order to allow larger investment by benefactors, the scrutiny that Ashley finds himself under will intensify with a vital summer transfer window approaching.

There are of course many variables that could impact Newcastle United between now and the end of the summer, but surely there won't be a better time for Ashley, so long the villain on Tyneside, to finally make fans happy by giving them what they want; a new owner.

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