Takeover … it’s over, we need to move on!

March 2020 feels like a long time ago. Despite everything in the last fifteen months that has been brought about by COVID, the one thing that shows no sign of lifting is the permanent state of stasis at Newcastle United. Ever since the Sheffield United game first brought football back it has seemed like we have been held permanently waiting for the club to change hands. Some have the belief that things are going to change soon, I don’t. I want Ashley gone but I don’t see it happening with the bid that was placed last year and here is why.

First off, I have no insider knowledge and don’t profess to be in the know about anything. Second, I have no agenda. If people want to spend their money chasing the Premier League for court cases or to change decisions, then fair play to them. I personally don’t think it will work or make a difference, but that is their choice.

My number one reason for thinking this won’t go through is Amanda Staveley. First off she has now been attempting to buy this club for four years. Like it or not that seems a lot of time to attempt to buy a club. Her case against Barclays has now been decided, she lost and so a lot of the questions about her own personal wealth remain as does the ability to lead a deal of this size. There are claims she played a significant part in the deal to purchase Manchester City, though interestingly this was done through a separate company set up to avoid significant people facing scrutiny of their roles. If she did this in 2008, why not do it in 2020?

Another reason is the seller and the price situation. Mike Ashley finally found someone allegedly prepared to pay over £300 million for the football club. Investors like that do not grow on trees. This deal was the deal, regardless of how many other rumours were in place. Nobody else has looked at the books and got to this stage. The club is only valued at that price by the owner. If I say I want to sell my house and I think it’s worth double what the estate agent says, then the problem comes when nobody buys it. Ashley is now in that situation. Nobody else (currently) sees that as a realistic figure for the club, so why would anyone pay it?

A third and controversial reason is the Premier League. Now I hear lots of people saying Richard Masters is in the pocket of the big six and they tell him what to do. Well if that’s true, then the meeting that took place with the other fourteen teams after they attempted to leave must have been a shock to them. Also they must believe they have sound legal grounds for rejecting the takeover, otherwise they would not have done it. If Liverpool (as an example, not accusing them of doing so) said we do not want this deal to happen, the Premier League would have to have a legal basis for doing so. This comes back to TV piracy, BeoutQ and all the arguments around that. I find the competition case interesting, but its actual impact on the takeover appears to be next to nothing.

Fourthly, there is PIF. The Saudi group have said absolutely nothing regarding Newcastle United since they announced they were stepping away from the deal. Different people claim they are still there in the background waiting for a resolution. This could be true, but are these the same people who told us the takeover was definitely on? Are these the same people who said no red flags? But there are also concerns that global investment moves on in time. If PIF wanted to they could purchase Inter Milan now, the club is in serious financial peril. They will be playing in the Champions League next season, surely that looks a better investment?

I found the clubs lack of communication around the takeover really difficult but I found it more absurd how open the purchasers were being time and again. We are now in a situation where the only things we ever hear about the takeover are either positive noises from people close to the bidders, or Mike Ashley telling us he is the hero and is going to take down the ‘dark forces’ that have held this club back. That last part was too much for me – he’s still mocking us!

When we are at a stage where the club can not move on but certain senior lawyers can share stottie cakes and Newcastle Brown in a twitter photo to get everyone excited then are we playing to the soap opera narrative? The arbitration could be done by the end of the year, it may not be. Do we wait another three transfer windows before moving on? I say no, we move on now. Let Ashley have his battles with whomever he so chooses to try and get his deal done, spend his own money as much as he likes. It is time for us to put pressure on him to improve this squad, preferably the entire club and get back to football not court room drama.

STEPHEN ORD    @smord84