If current thinking is to be believed, we are now entering the 13th week of the Newcastle United takeover saga at St James Park.
The latest twist sees the Premier League coming under increased pressure from all quarters to come to a conclusion, with accusations of incompetence and mismanagement being levelled at them.
Indeed, it cannot be argued that the ongoing wall of silence has done nothing for their reputation as one of the foremost leagues in the world of football and supposed professionalism.
However, do they actually deserve this criticism or is there more to this takeover than meets the eye.
I think we must first look at what we know and the best place to start is with the prospective buyers.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is ran from top to bottom by the Royal family of Saud, to say they have no influence over the PIF would be a naïve mistake, since they dictate policy in every faction of their society. A Royal family of some standing, they rub shoulders with our own Royals on an equal basis, being invited to each other’s official functions and having many interests in common, not the least of which is horse racing.
They have influence at every level of Government, the civil service, the military and industry through their contacts from various schools and universities in the UK. They sit at the top table in world affairs, being members of the UN and various other world organisations. They also hold enormous influence throughout the middle east.
All of this of course begs one question, against such an influential sovereign state, could and indeed would, the Premier League stand in their way, as it would seem they are doing if current media reports are correct.
Throughout the takeover process we have been subject to an array of claims from the media, very little of which has been substantiated. We have had quotes from “a reliable journalist”, “someone close to the buyers’ side”, “a club insider”, a reliable source”,” a middle eastern source” everyone it would seem except the Tea Lady at the Premier League.
Given the above, it could be argued that the PIF are simply not ready to take over Newcastle United just yet and an alternate scenario to the dithering from the PL could be put forward.
As things stand nobody knows the detail of the Newcastle United takeover agreement, there is a non-disclosure agreement in place which prevents all parties from discussing the ongoing process and that includes the PL, who would leave themselves open to legal jeopardy should they discuss the current status.
We are therefore left with only one avenue and that is speculation, supported by circumstantial evidence. As in all business deals the best way to get a true picture is to follow the money.
The prospective purchase of Newcastle United by the PIF, Reuben Brothers and Amanda Staveley consortium is not the subject of a sentimental attachment to the club, the city, nor indeed the game of football. It is in fact a business investment in what they see as a venture which will produce profit in the future.
So how are they going to generate that income to maximise a return on their investment. Well the first and most obvious income stream is from the TV and not just the dividend paid out by the premier league.
If you own and run your own country it puts you in a different position entirely, especially with your influence in the whole area surrounding that country. The problem is of course the official provider to the middle east as it stands is a diplomatic pariah as far as you are concerned and handing over profit to them would not sit well. So an alternative plan would seem to lend itself to the situation at hand, but of course it must be handled diplomatically.
The first thing to do is to secure the purchase of Newcastle United, this has been achieved by paying a deposit, however the terms surrounding that payment are not, as far as I am aware, known.
Delay the sale to allow you time to put in place steps to generate an income as soon as possible following the purchase. This can be achieved by either agreeing the sale take place at the end of the current season or by putting in a clause relating to premiership points safety.
Next, clamp down on the illegal broadcasting of football matches in your own country while not appearing to back down to Qatar. To achieve this, wait for the WTO report to be published and act on it, this way neither Qatar or the PL can claim to have influenced any of the actions taken. This now puts you in a position to control the revenue stream.
Finally, in order to keep Qatar at arms length, another provider is required who already has the TV broadcast rights for premier league games. BT is the most accessible and obvious choice and indeed PIF has been buying up major chunks of the organisation in recent times.
Of course this is all speculation at the moment and hopefully we will get an explanation in the fullness of time but don’t be surprised to see BT on the shirts of NUFC next season and their own TV channel.