LEE CHARNLEY insists Mike Ashley remains determined to sell Newcastle United – but the Magpies chief executive has pledged to devote his undivided attention to supporting Steve Bruce’s transfer plans in the wake of this week’s dramatic off-field events.

Newcastle’s future was thrown into turmoil on Thursday when Amanda Staveley’s PCP Capital Partners group issued a joint statement with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund and property developers David and Simon Reuben, announcing the withdrawal of their consortium’s offer to buy the club from Ashley.

Ashley, who is currently in the United States, was not given any prior warning of the announcement, although the takeover attempt had been stalling for months with the Premier League failing to complete their owners and directors’ test.

Attention has now switched to what happens next, with American businessman Henry Mauriss claiming to be keen to seal a £350m deal of his own despite reservations over his ability to successfully finance a takeover.

Charnley insists Ashley remains open to offers and would like to sell up as quickly as possible. However, with the prospects of a sale before the start of next season having all but disappeared, the Magpies chief says his immediate priority is to help Bruce make some headway in the transfer market.

“We acknowledge the statement issued on Thursday,” said Charnley. “Never say never, but to be clear, Mike Ashley is 100 per cent committed to this (selling up).

“However, our current focus must now be on supporting Steve Bruce in the transfer market, and on the preparations for the new season.”

Bruce is hoping to make Ryan Fraser his first summer signing, with Newcastle representatives having held discussions with the Scotsman, who has turned down the offer of a new deal at Bournemouth.