Publican Charlie Chawke has launched an audacious bid to buy English football club, Newcastle United. Chawke confirmed yesterday that he was putting together a consortium to purchase Newcastle from its present owner, Mike Ashley, for £100m (€116m).
"We're looking at it, alright," Chawke said. "It's a great club. He [Ashley] is looking for £100m. You could probably get it for less with a bit of luck. A year-and-a-half ago he was looking for £600m. The problem is to get the syndicate together. Our syndicate in Sunderland bust up last year so a few of us are interested again but others are not, so we will just have to look at trying to get a few people interested in it."
Chawke was part of the Drumaville consortium, an eight-man group that included fellow publican Louis Fitzgerald and a number of property developers, which purchased Sunderland Football Club for €12.65m in 2006.
Having reportedly invested between €60m and €80m in the club, they pulled out three years later when American businessman Ellis Short bought their stake.
A native of Adare, Co Limerick, and the owner of a string of pubs in Dublin including The Goat Inn, The Dropping Well in Milltown and The Oval on Middle Abbey Street, Chawke believes Newcastle could be a better investment for his new consortium than Sunderland, even though the team is no longer in the Premier League, having been relegated in May.
"This is a better and bigger club. Bigger support, bigger team. It has no debts. It's a great city as well."
Along with Louis Fitzgerald, the only other known member of Chawke's new consortium is Dublin publican Bernard Molloy who owns Solas and Shine Bar on Wexford Street.
"Charlie approached about 20 of us to pool our funds to buy Newcastle," Molloy said. "To have a stake in a well-known club like this would be fantastic. They were in Dublin playing Shamrock Rovers this weekend but if it all works out, we could be in Newcastle in the near future watching them at St James' Park."
Molloy said Newcastle representatives would return to Dublin within the next 10 days to discuss the Irish bid.