After nearly 15 years as the owner of Newcastle United, perhaps there has been no time prior to now that so many fans of the club have rallied behind the words and actions of Mike Ashley.
Yesterday evening (Wednesday the 9th of September), the Premier League officially rejected the Saudi-backed takeover of Newcastle United, seemingly putting an end to a takeover speculation that began back in March, and looked to have collapsed back in July. The club’s counter statement declared that they and its chief executive, one Richard Masters, failed to act appropriately and with transparency, and that United will be “considering all relevant options available to them.”
Stating he is acting in the “best interests of the club” and “understand(ing) fans’ frustrations”, Ashley appears to be devoted to selling the football club, and wants the aforementioned Consortium to be his successors. In a mere two word reply to the Sports Direct CEO, the Premier League had “no comment” to make.
So what does this mean? As of right now, Mike Ashley is still the owner of Newcastle United, and will remain as such following on from the Premier League’s rejection of the Amanda Staveley/Reuben Brothers/PIF conglomerate, as well as Ashley’s own personal rejection of Henry Mauriss and the Bellagraph Nova group as prospective buyers.
And if we can expect anything from Amanda Staveley, given her desire to see the takeover go through, and the toxic state of her proceedings against British banking firm Barclays, any ensuing matters in court could be messy and make things even more complicated.
The positives of a successful legal challenge is that Newcastle United may finally get their long awaited takeover, bringing an end to a turbulent tenure for Mike Ashley and the reawakening of one of football’s sleeping giants. The negatives of a failed legal challenge is that the case detracts and affects Newcastle’s form both on the pitch and within the transfer market: it’s hard to imagine many more proven or high profile players coming to St James Park on a shoe string budget.
For Newcastle fans, they can be truly thankful that the club’s primary transfer business has concluded prior to these impending legal affairs: sure Callum Wilson and Ryan Fraser are not the hyped up dream transfers of Kylian Mbappe and Gareth Bale, but the Tyneside outfit needed a striker and some more attacking depth. Full credit must be given to the much maligned Steve Bruce and Mike Ashley for their competitive approach to signing Wilson and Jamal Lewis in particular.
The skeptics within many of us could see Ashley’s statement of intent to sell as merely a PR opportunity: carefully crafted and designed to garner support from the Geordie faithful against the Premier League. But in this very moment, the most important thing for the club is to focus on the Premier League season ahead and the performances on the pitch. Ashley, the new signings, and the current crop of players all appear to be making Newcastle seem…well, United.
For now all we can expect is some more back and forth between the Premier League and Mike Ashley over the former’s decision, and regardless of whether or not Ashley takes action, the 2020/21 season is looking to be quite interesting and dramatic already for Newcastle United.
Image credit-By Johnvedwards – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=59196695