It is now a week since the arbitration case between the Premier League and Newcastle United collapsed due to the failure of both parties to have completed a full disclosure of information.

The case has now been pushed into early 2022 but there is no reason to be confident that the issues which prevented the arbitration from proceeding this time will have been resolved by the time any new hearing gets underway.

I’ll hasten to add I have no legal qualifications, so this is just me as a supporter thinking out loud. Neither do I possess any In-The-Know nuggets of information I can use to make myself sound important.

Whether the Competition action undertaken by Ashley is similarly hamstrung by the failure on his side to disclose information to the arbitration is unknown.

I have to ask what the hell has been going on in the preparation of United’s case that those acting for Ashley was not able to submit everything required? Perhaps Nick De Marco will offer something cryptic on social media and we can (ahem) er, join the dots. Cough.

In the interests of transparency that everyone was so keen on a fortnight ago, it should be incumbent upon Newcastle United to update supporters with the position right now. I think we’ll need rather more than the terse statement detailed here:

“The parties attended a hearing today in the case between Newcastle United and the Premier League. The main hearing of the arbitration has regrettably now been adjourned until early 2022 due to issues with the disclosure of evidence. The parties will be making no further comment at this time”. Newcastle United 19/Jul/21.

I don’t doubt that other supporters have been having similar thoughts to me but in terms of the case and communications between buyers and sellers, I’d imagine Ashley’s representatives have been in regular contact with all different parts of the consortium as the case has been built. Or have they? Id have thought that was critical to build the case?

I’m not the only one to have doubts as to whether every part of the consortium is still in place. Were there any problems in the flow of information between PCP, the Reubens and of course the PIF in preparing the case?

Why was Ashley’s side unable or unwilling to provide a disclosure of the information required for the arbitration?

What was that information and is the failure to disclose illustrative of the consortium’s desire to buy Newcastle United on the same terms as agreed in April 2020 is still on the table?

Is the desire and the money to buy Newcastle United still there from all parts of the consortium?

We have of course heard Staveley insist that is the case but in honesty, confidence in her has drained as far as I am concerned.

What I think we need now, in the spirit of transparency and keeping supporters updated is a statement from the three parts of the consortium making plain their intentions either as a statement of intent to buy Newcastle United or not.

Of course, the Premier League was equally as culpable for its failure to disclose information and it should too outline why that has happened from its side. It has stated on several occasions it wishes this saga to be concluded so it is contradictory that its own solicitors should go into (what I understand was the earliest part of the proceedings) and not be ready to hand over required information.

The Premier League has declined to offer much on the record comment regards this whole pain in the arse, so I don’t think we should hold our breath on that.

It is a completely unsatisfactory state of affairs with supporters treated very shabbily by all sides – Newcastle United, the consortium and the Premier League. None of them are any better than the other in my opinion.

Anyone offering an opinion on what is going on at our club has to tread carefully however, such is the toxic atmosphere that exists amongst some supporters.

Admittedly, if you are able to live a life without social media then it all very much goes over your head.

That care should involve setting out your overall view on the takeover so here goes.

Like the vast majority of supporters, I wanted this takeover to happen. I’d love it to and for it to be what we imagine it would be. That’s not because I think the Saudis are wonderful people. I don’t think anyone with a knowledge of their human rights record etc would say the Saudi state is a force for good in the world. It absolutely isn’t. I’m only interested in what they will put into Newcastle United and for that to be transformative for our club, currently being suffocated by Ashley.

Like many, matters of personal conscience have been parked in the hope the trade off will be a club that can fulfil its enormous potential. I realise that likely paints me as shallow given my position on many social issues where I’d describe my overall political position as centre-left.

I’d be hard pressed to refute accusations of hypocrisy. Not that football supporters should provide the conscience of this nation as was suggested by parts of the media twelve months ago when UK PLC is doing billions in trade in stuff that is designed to blow people to pieces and bought for that purpose too.

But everyone with any common-sense knows whatever opinions any supporter holds on the matter is completely irrelevant to what happened last Monday in the arbitration hearing.

You can have supporters with completely opposing hopes about the takeover but it is completely irrelevant to the apparent impasse we have reached.

The takeover is where it is down to the Premier League, the buyers (the Staveley-led consortium) and the sellers (Ashley). None of it has been affected positively or negatively by any supporter.

Whether Jimmy on the Leazes or Sharon in the East Stand are for or against the takeover couldn’t matter less.

Then there is also the question of the Premier League’s position. I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that the PL is doing everything it can to stop the takeover and the question of separation of ownership etc is a device they are using to block it.

I have no doubt that beIN, the Qatari broadcaster, who puts hundreds of millions into the PL for the rights to televise the PL across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) do not want a club owned by Saudis within the PL.

I have little doubt that is as part of the ongoing dispute between Qatar and Saudi but the latter is hard to sympathise (if we take off our B&W goggles) and acknowledge the wholesale piracy of TV rights of which KSA is culpable.

That’s why it barely raises a comment of objection when Saudi buy into all kinds of stuff in sport (boxing, F1) where the Qataris don’t have an interest.

Saudi Arabia remains on UEFA’s list of countries recommended to remain on a global watch-list for rights violations.

I don’t doubt for multiple reasons, other clubs in the PL, particularly those used to dominating the upper echelons want another financially doped club to compete against, as they do with Man City and Chelsea, like a proverbial hole in the head.

I don’t think ANY club in the PL wants a competitor with deeper pockets than any other. I rather think that’s the reason Newcastle United may not have even attempted to convene a movement amongst other PL Clubs to force Masters & Co to agree to the arbitration to be held in public. Newcastle United is the outlier in all of this.

I also find it difficult to move beyond the thought that even if this takeover somehow happened tomorrow, Saudi citizens would be unable to watch the team their country has such a prominent stake in, because of the enduring dispute which prevents PL games being broadcast legally into the KSA.

There is something of a wider game in play elsewhere within football governance at present too.

In response to the failed attempt to form a European Super League, the UK government has initiated a fan-led review of how the game is run in this country amidst widespread dissatisfaction amongst supporters.

That is being led by the Rt. Hon Tracey Crouch MP. Crouch who met and was highly impressed by our own Newcastle United Supporters Trust as well as other properly constituted fan-led organisations.

On Thursday, Crouch published her interim recommendations and these included the establishment of an independent regulator whose powers would include oversight of Owners & Directors tests.

That may or may not assist in any takeover of the type we’ve been embroiled in these last eighteen months but it is important not to view this entirely through a Newcastle United lens.

Numerous clubs have been sold to abysmal people. In 2007, Newcastle United became one of them but they also extend to Leeds, Darlington, Portsmouth, Man Utd, Rangers, Hearts, Burnley, Blackburn, Sunderland, Bury, Blackpool and too many others to mention. All have fallen into the wrong hands.

Leveraged buy-outs, asset strippers, ego-maniacs and assorted spivs and leeches have attached themselves to our clubs and there is little we as supporters can do to remove them.

I think we should watch how this develops closely.

As well as a new independent regulator having control over any Owners & Directors test, Crouch’s interim recommendations also include providing democratically constituted supporters groups (such as the Newcastle United Supporters Trust) with a golden share and this would provide fans with the power of veto over the club over certain issues.

It is not difficult to detect the voice of Newcastle United Supporters Trust within those recommendations and as a rank and file member I commend them for their role here as well as the excellent Pledge 1892.

There is a long way to go of course from recommendation to legislation but supporters working together as NUST does has never taken this agenda further.

This is something to be genuinely to be encouraged at.

Ashley is a symptom of how poorly football is run and Newcastle United has suffered as a result of his attitude and commitment to our club. There is no place for him in the game but radical measures of the type hopefully in development will help address what he and his ilk bring into football.

Crouch’s interim findings are here: TRACEY CROUCH INTERIM RECOMMENDATIONS 

  On the subject of the Newcastle United Supporters Trust, I read some words in The Chronicle last week which I couldn’t help nodding away in agreement with.

NUST’s Tom Concannon reflecting on last year’s meeting with the PL and Richard Masters set out the distance between word and deed:

“It is frustrating – it really is because I felt at the time that what Richard Masters said was that Newcastle United was being protected. That was one thing we asked ‘are Newcastle United at the forefront of your mind here in all of your decision makings?’ because at the end of the day that is who is most important.

 It is frustrating to see that he was adamant that he wanted a time and place to talk about everything that happened and it feels like he’s been given ample opportunity to do that and he’s just refused at every step of the way.

 We just don’t understand it. The Premier League have a good relationship with the Football Supporters Association, they were the ones who got us in the room, and we just hope through that channel that we will be able to keep putting that pressure on.

 Hopefully, we can force the Premier League into talking to us and to talk to as many people as possible – we understand they can’t go out and talk to everyone. We get that, it makes sense to go through a certain channel but we hope because that channel was open to us before, it will be again. “

I don’t believe Masters, Hoffman et al give a fuck about Newcastle United in honesty. I believe their motives are to protect the business of the Premier League. The PL is a trade group and is behaving in a protectionist manner.

On the subject of some criticism of NUST, Tom responded:

“First and foremost, we are fans like everyone else. We are elected by members – it’s not just a few people, the last election had about 6,000 people who voted!

“We realise that a Trust isn’t for everyone – but when it boils down to it there are people who will fight our [the fans’] corner whether that be me, anyone on the board or anyone who joins through the next election.

 There are people there who try to fight the fans’ corner on everything, not just the takeover. It’s tickets, the return of fans to the stadium or something like the sale of Strawberry Place. We are approachable – we don’t hide. I just wish people would give the supporters trust a chance – we’re not hiding anywhere.

“I know a lot of people say we don’t do a lot but I do think a lot of that is built around the takeover and the fact not a lot is getting done, and people are looking for someone to blame”.

 I genuinely don’t see or hear the criticism but I do know if anyone does want to raise points of criticism (which is a perfectly valid thing to do of course) then they are more likely to progress what they want as a member and using the properly constituted means to do so.

Shouting your mouth off on social media will have zero impact because that isn’t how properly constituted, democratic, accountable and representative organisations work.

I desperately hope Crouch’s interim recommendations grow legs and the position of NUST and similar organisations at other clubs as well as the FSA grows stronger.

Lessons have to be learned across football so that the sport improves and is owned by the communities that sustain it in many different ways. The FA, Premier League, Football League and government have to learn a lot.

But so do too do supporters and the key lesson is to learn to engage and behave correctly.

Spewing nonsense into the ether or on social media like a bairn with a smacked arse just doesn’t cut it in 2021.

No one supporter counts more than any other in terms of their opinion or interests.

Learn to behave.

Keep On, Keepin’ On …

 MICHAEL MARTIN