So, after 17 weeks of fans being left in the dark, Amanda Staveley’s Saudi backed consortium pulled their £350 million bid to buy Newcastle United from owner Mike Ashley, which would have finally ended his thirteen year tenure as owner of the club.
The Saudi backed consortium reportedly spent three years researching the background of the club, alongside looking at where and how to invest into the surrounding areas of the city itself.
However, despite pulling their bid, it has further been reported that all parties, buying and selling, are still communicating and trying to find a resolution which would result in the consortium taking full control of the club.
However, sadly the heartbreak that was felt by the whole of the fan base, and a lot of the city itself, has become a staple of the Ashley era, which for me as an 18 year old, is all I have of memories of whilst supporting the club. With the only vague success coming in a 5th place finish, followed by a decenyt Europa League campaign the following season.
Two relegation seasons, an average Premier League final standing position of 13th (as well as the second tier seasons) and countless woeful cup campaigns. It is fair to say Mike Ashley has taken the club from one of the biggest in England, fighting for titles under Keegan and Sir Bobby Robson, to mid-table mediocrity, and often taking it to the final stages of the season needing points to stay in the league.
And for the 17 weeks the Premier League were conducting their ‘Owners and Directors test’, fans were allowed to dream of finally being able to go back to the days of the famous ‘entertainers’ and competing with the best teams in England, year in year out. Only for those dreams to be ripped away from us by a mixture of Premier League incompetence and possible naivety of the buying party.
The Premier League offered a no-nonsense approach and a robust ‘no comment’ response when asked questions about their ‘Owners and Directors test’, and were set to keep this up.
However, after extensive and consistent fan pressure, asked for by Amanda Staveley herself, a petition signed by over 100,000 people, plus letters from over 80 MPs and backing of the Prime Minister, even the Independent Football Ombudsman ‘advised’ the Premier League to comment, which they (the Premier League) did through a letter sent in reply to MP Chi Onwurah. Although, again the Premier League did not give fans what we wanted, as Ms Onwurah stated in a tweet saying how ‘It acknowledges importance of fans and provides some new info but not the reassurance or transparency I know the fans want’.
As well as this, the Premier League placed the blame at the door of the consortium, taking no blame or acknowledgement of the 17 weeks that the fans had been kept in the dark, and the club in limbo for.
So the consortium have now been given a very public response from the Premier League on the ‘fit and Proper owners’ of the club question, with their intent and passion to buy the club to be seen (or not) now, in terms of how they react.
If they take on the Premier League then fans can believe their serious nature and passion about owning the club. However, if they don’t challenge the Premier League, they will come under scrutiny from many fans and media, rightly so in my opinion.
But, the most sickening aspect of the collapsed takeover is the view that the Saudi backed consortium were prepared to make a total investment of over £600 million into the city of Newcastle. The Reuben brothers, who were set to have a 10% stake in the club, already have long-term business interests in Newcastle including current major projects, plus whilst the takeover saga was unfolding donated £36,000 into the Newcastle West End food bank.
The Premier League having no concerns about the missed opportunity of this major wider investment in the region, the many new jobs that would have arisen around the area, especially needed after the impact that the virus situation has had on the economy and livelihood of many people in the north east. Giving further reason to sicken and aggravate not only fans of the club but also the population of the city and region as a whole.
As has been shown though, the spirit and unity of the Newcastle fans has not been, and will not be, broken.
As usual, we will come through this as a stronger community either still in the dull, lifeless ownership of Mike Ashley or, deservedly for the fans, having hope and life back into the club and city as a whole.
These 13 years of Mike Ashley have been nothing but backwards steps for the club year after year, but as Kevin Keegan said, ‘One day you will get your club back, and it will be everything you wanted it to be’. Lets just hope it doesn’t take another 13 years!