The Newcastle United takeover has been with the Premier League for around a quarter of a year, fully thirteen weeks.
Estimates, at least in the media, were that it would take roughly a month or so for the Premier League to go through their various processes, before approval would be confirmed.
We are now beyond three times that timeframe and Newcastle fans are wondering exactly what is going on?
It might seem a bit of a daft question but when we are talking about the ‘Premier League’, what exactly are we talking about?
Well, in order to try and generate more money for themselves, the First Division clubs resigned en masse from the Football League on 27 May 1992, with the FA Premier League formed as a limited company.
The Premier League is operated as a corporation and is owned by whoever happens to be the 20 member clubs at any one time.
Each club is a shareholder, with one vote each on issues such as rule changes and contracts, with 14 of the 20 usually needing to vote in favour of any major changes.
The 20 Premier League clubs elect a chairman, chief executive, and board of directors to oversee the daily operations of the league.
Most of you will easily recall that Richard Masters is the CEO of the Premier League, very much the public face of it.
However, I bet like me, the vast majority of you couldn’t name the Chairman of the Premier League. When looking it up, I discovered that the now former Chairman of Monzo Bank, Gary Hoffman, only took up the post five weeks ago, at the beginning of June 2020.
So basically, Hoffman has started his job right in the middle of this Newcastle United takeover saga / charade.
What role or influence will he have in / on it in his capacity as Premier League Chairman?
Like yourself, I haven’t got a clue.
In fact, you can say that about the whole thing where the Premier League are concerned.
You have the 20 Premier League clubs who are ultimately the owners and decision makers.
The clubs / shareholders have agreed the rules under which the Premier League operates and you then have administrators, including Gary Hoffman and Richard Masters, who run the PL on a day to day basis according to those rules and guidelines.
Amongst those rules are the ones that decide if new prospective owners are allowed to take over clubs.
The tests on who is allowed to take over a Premier League club are there in black and white, for the administrators to follow, not for them (or anybody else) to make up as they go along.
If you want to buy a Premier League club, do you tick these boxes?
So it is surely purely a legal process, or should be…
Lawyers working on behalf of the Premier League (clubs / shareholders and administrators) who will then look at the information and papers supplied, to then see if the new (prospective) owners meet the criteria (rules).
However, clearly this is not what is happening.
It has become a very political decision, or should that more correctly be termed, a commercial decision or debate.
It most definitely isn’t about whether the Saudi PIF led bidders meet the rules laid down, instead it appears to be about how the Premier League will achieve the best commercial / financial outcome from whatever decision is eventually made on the Newcastle United takeover.
There is a lot of smoke and mirrors with this takeover charade but very difficult to believe that the administrators would be deciding to drag out this NUFC takeover decision, unless the most powerful shareholders (clubs) are happy with that to be the case. Yes each of the 20 have one vote each but clearly a case of all animals are equal but some are more equal than others…
The problem now comes though, what if this delay massively impacts negatively on Newcastle United and / or the prospective new owners?
It has previously been widely reported that this NUFC takeover has been a long time in the planning, with initial talks, work done, building blocks put in place, to allow then the button to be pressed in April 2020 and takeover then to be completed as the current season ended in May 2020, including the Premier League approval to be granted, allowing for the new owners to have the close season and summer transfer window to prepare for the start of the 2020/21 PL season. The only sensible way to time a PL club takeover surely.
Obviously the virus situation came along and messed with the league schedule, can you imagine how things would feel now if we were still operating to the original planned league timings, with the 2020/21 Premier League only a month away from kicking off?
Personally, I think the virus situation has bought the Premier League some additional time. I think if the 2019/20 season hadn’t been extended and the following one pushed back, we would have seen approval given to the takeover by now.
I don’t think the Premier League (or the individual shareholders / clubs) have any intention of blocking the Newcastle United takeover, instead I believe they are walking this tightrope of still allowing the new Saudi PIF owners just about enough time to prepare for the 2020/21 season BUT in the meantime extracting every extra benefit they can during this delay. Letting the Saudis join their private club but only after they have ensured the Premier League benefits commercially / financially as much as possible by allowing them to do so.
If I’m wrong and there is a possibility of the takeover being delayed far longer (never mind blocked) by the Premier League…
The question then becomes: ‘Where is the Premier League accountability if Newcastle United fall apart as we wait for this takeover decision?’
What if the Saudi bidders are delayed so long that they aren’t given proper time to be able to appoint their own high level manager, time to operate properly in this summer transfer window, time to allow them to ensure players such as Dubravka and Saint-Maximin aren’t tempted to jump ship if ambitious clubs make offers?
Money doesn’t automatically instantly solve all problems, you also need time and the right personnel in place to make progress and avert potential disaster.
Imagine a scenario whereby the Saudi PIF bid is eventually successful but the current Head Coach is still in place and NUFC are relying on the same team and squad but less ASM and Dubravka? Playing catch up during a season in bringing in a new manager and / or players in the mid-season transfer window, is no guarantee of turning things around.
In three weeks time the 2019/20 Premier League season will be at an end and at that point there will probably be around six or seven weeks maximum until the 2020/21 season is set to start.
I am confident that by the time this current season ends (26 July 2020) there will have been Premier League approval and the Newcastle United takeover completed.
If not, then I think that the Premier League will have fallen off their tightrope and have brought on at least as many problems for themselves, as they will have caused for the prospective new NUFC owners, as I can’t see the Saudis taking this one lying down.
In the final analysis, the Premier League need this to be a win / win situation, for the Saudis as well as themselves.