Newcastle were surrounded by fresh intrigue today amid claims that one prospective buyer could be prepared to hand Kevin Keegan a multi-million pound stake in the club.
Investment bankers Seymour Pierce are currently assessing the options open to owner Mike Ashley in the wake of his decision to sell the club, after finding himself in the firing line of furious fans following Keegan’s resignation as manager.
A Nigerian consortium claim to have made a £200m (€253m) offer, while a South African group are understood to be ready to make their own approach.
The Evening Chronicle, the city’s evening newspaper, have reported that the South Africans, who like their Nigerian counterparts want to re-install Keegan, will offer the 57-year-old a stake of up to 10% in the business if he returns.
There have been suggestions that the group of five so-far-unnamed businessmen have already tabled an offer of £280m (€354m), within touching distance of the figure Ashley is thought to want for the club.
Seymour Pierce are conducting their business privately, with a series of other potential buyers also having registered their interest.
There has been speculation too over the identity of the men behind the bids who have declared their hands to date, with both the Nigerian and South African would-be investors remaining anonymous.
Representatives of billionaire Johann Rupert, the man behind Swiss-owned luxury goods company Richemont, and multi-millionaire Vivian Imerman, a former owner of Del Monte who has since bought into Scottish whisky producer Whyte and Mackay, have denied any interest.
There was no comment from investment holding firm Bidvest over links with its founder, Brian Joffe, a man with a reputation for taking over failing companies and reviving them.
That is an ability attributed to the South African consortium currently looking at Newcastle.