The takeover of Newcastle United has become something of an urban myth in recent times. Like aliens in Area 51 or the Loch Ness monster, people are optimistic it will happen and there will be evidence right before our very eyes.
When Mike Ashley purchased Newcastle in 2007, hopes were initially high, as this fan friendly new owner looked to build on consistent runs in European football, and the push for the top 4.
13 years later, and quite the opposite has happened. The Magpies have been condemned to relegation twice, received a lack of financial backing from a frugal, money hungry mogul, and fans have been forced to watch many a talented player come and go in Mike Ashley’s pursuit of profit.
Early 2020 looked to be a change in fortune though. News broke that a joint Consortium of the Saudi Arabian PIF and the Reuben Brothers were looking to buy the North East football club. The deal was to be brokered by Amanda Staveley, and fans’ hearts immediately began to race.
For context, this takeover would have seen Newcastle United soar to being the richest club in England, far surpassing the likes of Manchester City and Chelsea. The Premier League has devolved into a contest of “Who can spend the most money?” over the past 15 years, and a new challenger to the title could very well emerge with some serious financial backing.
Both some jokers and the jubilant believed the likes of Kylian Mbappe could feasibly come to Tyneside, a new era of Newcastle United looked to be fully on the cards.
Then it all came to a screeching halt.
Not to delve too much on international politics and foreign relations, but as a nation, Saudi Arabia is on less than good terms with many countries and many individuals: once the potential takeover of Newcastle United was picked up by the mainstream media, it was as if drops of blood had been spilled into the shark tank.
Disapproval and disdain for the takeover came from numerous angles: the Saudi government had blood on its hands for its alleged human rights violations, the politically motivated murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, and for major piracy concerns. No way should a country like Saudi Arabia have such a direct presence and foothold in the English game.
Upon first glance, these are valid and excellent points that had been made opposing the takeover. Sure, the Premier League are in cosy friendly relationships with the likes of China and Qatar, who lest we forget also have their fair share of alleged violations to their name, and that hasn’t stopped their influence in the sport of football, but that’s besides the point.
When it appeared that the (non refundable) deposit had been submitted by the Consortium to Mike Ashley, it had looked like there was no halting the takeover train. But now in July, after months of deliberation by the Premier League, WTO reports, and international pressure, the 30th of July may very well have seen the train grind to a halt.
A statement came out from the Consortium that afternoon. It read;
“With a deep appreciation for the Newcastle community and the significance of its football club, we have come to the decision to withdraw our interest in acquiring Newcastle United Football Club.
“We do so with regret, as we were excited and fully committed to invest in the great city of Newcastle and believe we could have returned the club to the position of its history, tradition and fans’ merit.”
69 words that brought an end to a weary but promising period of time.
And now another uncertain, frustrating pre-season awaits Newcastle United fans. The optimism of an entire fan base may have been ripped out piece by piece over the Summer, and the official confirmation of the Consortium’s withdrawal now implies the Magpies will head in to the 20/21 Premier League season with Mike Ashley once more in control.
This is no victory for the ethics and morals of the Premier League, or even football in general. Instead it’s another tragic defeat for the fans of Newcastle United Football Club.
The official statement, image courtesy of @NUFC360 on twitter, can be seen here