A consortium led by Peter Kenyon is one of at least four parties in the running to buy Newcastle from Mike Ashley, Sky Sports News understands.

The former Chelsea and Manchester United CEO has been in talks with the Newcastle owner since September, as revealed by Sky News, after he made clear his intentions to end Ashley’s 11-year tenure at St James’ Park.

Kenyon has also been in talks with US-based investors for weeks, with the support of Rockefeller Capital, as he drums up further financial backing for his bid.

Ashley has received bids in excess of £300m from at least four parties; the majority of whom are understood to be backed by foreign investors, according to Sky sources.

Negotiations are continuing this week and there is optimism that a deal could be concluded in the next three weeks.

Ashley on Monday told Sky News takeover talks are at a more progressed stage than ever, but admitted discussions are now exclusive with one party.

He stressed his wish to sell the club by the end of the month, before the January transfer window opens.

For that to happen, Kenyon or any other party would face a race against time with the Premier League’s financial rules and background checks to take place.

Ashley values the club, which has been for sale for 14 months, at £300m.

Meanwhile, Rafael Benitez on Tuesday said his club’s focus remains on the pitch, following Ashley’s revelations.

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(c) Sky News 2018: Peter Kenyon-led consortium one of at least four groups in for Newcastle