Late Autumn 2017, Supermarkets prep their stores for another Christmas onslaught, decorations are donned across many of the nations terraces and Newcastle United could finally be saved from the ten-year clutches of the spirit destroying Mike Ashley. Many NUFC fans will never forget the jubilant moment Sky Sports blasted the headline across our tiny smartphone screens. Many Geordie hopefuls were wishing to get the greatest Xmas present for at least a decade – new ownership through the engineering of Amanda Staveley. The initial attempt way back in November 2017 from PCP Capital and their middle eastern pals eventually rose to around £300 million but after many months of back and forth, the firm heel of Ashley dug in so deep that the potential buyers could not meet his farcical demands.

Fast forward 3 years to 2020 and wor Mandy was back again but this time with fresh new investors which could have potentially seen Newcastle United become one of the richest clubs in European football. With new vigour in her loins this time Amanda Staveley had two new members of a consortium that consisted of a 3-way split interest. The Reuben brothers, David and Simon, who have a net worth of around £18Bn making them the second richest family in the UK, were set to have a 10% stake in the deal. Saudi Arabian Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman (well he’s a prince so he is worth a fair bit of coin) would have an 80% stake in the takeover leaving 10% for Staveley to chip in. Contracts were exchanged and a deal was finally settled and submitted to the Premier League. Cue numerous objections from different parties such as Qatar based sports outlet Bein, every North East hating pundit and journalist who either work for one of your many stench rags or who sit scoffing pies and crisps with endless ‘witticisms’ on Talkshite or one of your ever fearing ‘top 6’ clubs.

Everything was in place and this time for me it was certain, Mr Blobby was to bounce his way out of the North East followed by the pitchforks and spades of every man, woman and child of Blaydon and beyond. Every time the word takeover was mentioned on Twitter I had to stop every movement and read every last word that was being posted, it became my life and was a very much needed distraction to the fact I had to isolate from my entire family for months on end (no one told me why). We waited and waited and waited for nearly 4 months for a response from the chief of the beast, Richard Masters, sitting on his hands caught between the potential of upsetting a load of daft broon ale loving reprobates or the special elite contenders for the title. Much to Masters’ convenience Mr Salman decided to pull the plug during one of the most bizarre summers I think I can ever remember.  I was totally shattered, a feeling much worse than losing to Sunderland for the sixth time in a row,

Where do we go after this?

Whatever you are feeling at this stage as an NUFC fan or just a football fan in general you have to acknowledge that the momentum that was gained over the first few months of the takeover being agreed might never be ignited again, not by Staveley or any of her business partners. Even as we read details of an ongoing court battle and Staveley’s optimism that her representatives will win (No Red Flags anyone?), it still feels like false hope and even a rumoured handshake between Qatar and Saudi Arabia does not get my juices flowing. This could all be a bouncing ball of speculation being tossed around for click bait, all designed for some journalist’s self-interest.

Whilst it is clear Ashley wants rid of the club, there is an underlying fear that some interested parties could now feel sceptical about doing business with a man who seemingly cannot get anything over the line. Of course, Ashley will not be at the helm forever, so there will always be that small bit of positivity to cling onto, unfortunately though this could have been our only real shot at becoming a European superpower.

How many Princes want to invest into North East sport these days? As we stare down the barrel of a third relegation in 12 years under the control of Bruce, this could be the last time we play premier league football for a long while – a fate felt by clubs such as Blackburn who have been exiled for nearly 10 years. If that eventuality happens and new owners do not step in ASAP then the future could be extremely bleak for the toon. I bet no Sunderland fan ever expected to be laid down in league 1 for a possible three seasons and this sort of disastrous fortune can happen to any club that has not had mighty investment.

To write about people’s mental state is a whole new article but accepting that any takeover may not happen in any distant future could ease the burden on a Newcastle fan’s mind. None of this frustration is easy at a time when we cannot go and watch our football team play (I could have said enjoy but I don’t want Steve Bruce taking credit for this piece) the world is in a bit of a state at the minute, but we should all look forward to the social aspect of match days, meeting with friends and moaning together about our dire performances.

No takeover can buy the experience and togetherness we all feel on a home or away day with our pals and I just know the first thing I will be doing when normal service resumes is buying me and my Dad a ticket for St James and living the Geordie life again.

STEPHEN SIMM