In the words of one of my favourite bands: “I don’t ever wanna feel like I did that day.” 30/07/2020 was the day a PIF led statement landed advising they had withdrawn from the process of buying the club.

It was probably the worst I’ve felt as an NUFC fan since our 2009 relegation. The 2016 relegation, we had Rafa, we had hope, this was hope snatched away after 16 weeks of silence. Maybe that anniversary was irrelevant, you may feel it isn’t worth writing about which is fine, but this is almost like therapy for me. I’ll just get this onto the page and move on……hopefully/probably.

This article does rather focus on the Premier League’s role but make no mistake, PIF weren’t blameless and their silence wasn’t helpful either. I don’t want to go back through the whole timeline. I don’t want to dredge through issues/buzzwords along the lines of:cartel, conspiracy, arbitration, CAT and corruption. Plenty was written during those tortuous 16 weeks of the initial owners and directors test and plenty was written/speculated during the next 15 months before the takeover eventually went through. I won’t go back through that.

This is more about reflection. And why for me, the way this was all handled feels deeply unsatisfying. The point is, that any rational person knows why this stalled; BeIN/piracy.

The timing of completion on the deal proves that. But why didn’t somebody just come out on the record and say it? Then we’d have had clarity and none of the bizarre conspiracy theory nonsense that floated around throughout the whole tortuous saga.

I can understand the reluctance of the Premier League to publicly accuse the Saudi state – one of the UK government’s long-standing trading partners – of such crimes, but if they apparently had so much evidence then why not put an end to the speculation and noise. Most rational fans would’ve understood I’m sure.

A Premier League statement via Richard Masters landed in August 2020 basically saying that the Premier League and the consortium disagreed over who would have control of the club – PIF or the Saudi state.

I could go off on all sorts of rabbit holes here, but that is what the PL said then, it was repeated by them in September 2020 in response to an NUFC statement and they said nothing further until the deal went through in October 2021. Whether you or I, believe that or not is another matter entirely.

When the deal completed on 07/10/21 a Premier League statement landed saying that they’d received “legally binding assurances” that Saudi Arabia would not control the club.

So, one of the regulatory bodies we trust to run football, said nothing for 15 months and then out of the blue issued a 140 word statement saying it was all clarified on who would control everything and  then disappeared off into the sunset.

Oh and by the way, in other, completely unrelated news, BeIN sports was reinstated in Saudi Arabia 24 hours earlier. No reference was made to this by anybody, yet if you think they’re unconnected, the July heatwave must’ve fried your brain.

I’m sure the Premier League’s defence to all this would be along the lines of “commercial confidentiality” and how staying silent on these matters ensures prospective future buyers aren’t deterred. I get that. I do.

But was it good enough in this instance? Maybe I should just forget about it given on how events have transpired. Everything turned out ok. In an alternative reality, we could be in the Championship under the latest Ashley stooge, with a legal hot potato being furiously pass-the-parcelledbetween the PL/EFL/CAS. Or facing a fresh campaign under the optimism of new ownership, but albeit as the: “Richest club in the Championship.”

None of this happened. We emerged from it all unscathed. However, it is unacceptable to me, that we could’ve completely imploded on the pitch whilst Ashley and the Premier League engaged in twelve rounds of legal dick-swinging with PIF sat in the corner holding a towel. The O & D test/process needs changed. Decisions should be made by an independent regulator& should involve the most important people- fans- in the process, they should not be left out of the loop. It should be transparent, timely & not open to bias.

Until there is reform within football, this could happen again.Would you want another fanbase to go through what we did?

I personally wouldn’t wish it on any club. Even them lot down the road.

Matthew Rogers