Potential buyers have been warned they will not get to buy Newcastle on the cheap with the club all but mathematically assured of another season of Premier League football.
The 10th-placed Magpies travelled to Everton on Monday evening knowing a point from their final five games is the maximum they will need to guarantee their top-flight status.
That makes the club a far more attractive proposition than it was when owner Mike Ashley formally put it up for sale once again in October last year.
He eventually pulled the plug on talks with Amanda Staveley’s PCP Capital Partners in January, describing the discussions as “a complete waste of time”.
Speculation has been rife that PCP, which included relegation clauses in two of the three offers it tabled, would seek to reopen the dialogue once the club’s fate became clear, and fans hoping for a fresh approach are anticipating just that in the wake of manager Rafael Benitez’s successful mission.
However, while Press Association understands Newcastle may have been available for as little as £300million at that point, the price reflected the risk the buyer would have had to take on, with the cost of relegation from the top flight punitive to say the least.
With another tranche of television money now on its way to St James’ Park and several of Benitez’s players having enhanced their reputations, it is understood that a cut-price deal is no longer on offer to PCP or indeed to any other interested party.
Ashley has never publicly put a fixed valuation on the club he bought for £134.4m in 2007 and has bankrolled since with interest-free loans which have taken his investment to in excess of £260m.
But above all else, he is a businessman and while he does not believe he has the finances to take it to the next level, he is adamant he will only sell both at the right price and to someone who can.
He was even prepared to take payment in instalments back in October to allow a new owner to invest in the squad, and that may remain the case provided he gets the deal he wants.
If that does not materialise, he faces a decision over whether to hand Benitez enough money to match his ambitions and persuade him to sign an extended contract – he has 12 months remaining on his current deal – or to risk losing him to a club which will.
That would come as a major blow to supporters who have been enthused once again by the job the Spaniard has done during his two years to date on Tyneside and given a glimpse of what he might achieve with the cash to implement his long-term plan.
Benitez has indicated he is happy to work within a “realistic” budget to add experience and quality to the young players he is in the process of developing, but just what “realistic” means to he and Ashley respectively remains to be seen.
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