MIKE ASHLEY has edged a step closer to selling Newcastle United after it emerged Amanda Staveley is believed to have made an increased offer for the Premier League club.

Staveley and her PCP Capital Partners group are thought to have tabled an offer above the £300m mark, which Ashley is thought to have been seeking since accepting he would have to lower his valuation.

Ashley has turned down a couple of bids from Staveley, although only one is thought to have been a one-off payment, and there have been ongoing discussions aimed at agreeing a deal.

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Now Staveley, who was pictured emerging from a meeting with the Newcastle owner at a London curry house last Thursday, has returned with a fresh offer near to the sort of figures Ashley is looking for to end his ten year ownership at St James’ Park.

Rafa Benitez is desperate for squad investment and Newcastle face Everton on Tyneside tonight looking to end a winless run of seven matches which includes six defeats.

Ashley paid £134m to buy the club from the Shepherd and Hall families in 2007. He publicly put the club up for sale at the beginning of October.

He had hoped a deal could be done to sell before Christmas and this agreement could yet lead to that, although it could still take 40 days for the takeover to officially take place if Ashley does accept the offer.