It is part of the enduring and endearing nuttiness of Newcastle United’s support that it is no longer a novelty when plane tracker graphics appear on social media showing journeys involving certain charters and destinations. On the one hand it is laugh out loud and on the other is part of a tradition of over-exuberance I clocked first hand crashing through the Fire Exit at the Gosforth Park Hotel in ’82 for Kevin Keegan’s first ever United press conference. Oh the innocence of youth!

Yesterday, I was shown a graphic which purported to be a flight between the UK and Dubai on which Mike Ashley was claimed to be aboard. I’ve no idea if that’s true but interestingly some of the more objective, less hysterical, click-driven parts of the football press expressed a view (caveats included) something might be afoot.

I make no claim as to whether there is or isn’t because I have no inside track with any of that.

But here is my reading of the situation if you can be arsed to read on.

Mike Ashley is keen to sell Newcastle United. The price he is reported to have set and had an offer on – between £300 – 350m will be the best he’ll receive for the foreseeable future given the world economy in the aftermath of the Covid-19 wrecking ball.

There is reasonable grounds to believe the same people in Saudi Arabia who were part of the Staveley-led consortium are still interested in buying Newcastle United.

I’m of the belief now that Staveley is de-facto out of the picture and for good reason.

Staveley has pitched herself to the Saudis as a fixer, an operator who could lead the purchase of the club and all of the associated hoopla surrounding it. She has singularly failed to achieve that. I got the nod 12 months ago there was something happening regards a sale of the club. Here we are, a year later and Newcastle United remains singularly unsold.

Staveley is therefore a fixer who hasn’t fixed anything.

In terms of football expertise, she has none, so what her role would have been following any purchase of the club is unknown and never defined. There are those who believe had the sale proceeded she would have had a very short tenure in any position of authority at United.

The Saudis don’t need Staveley’s money. She hasn’t fixed anything and she has nothing on her CV which suggests she has any executive experience in football.

Why do the Saudis need her?

Pretty much the same thing can be said about the Reuben Bros.

Staveley has not delivered on whatever she pitched to the Saudis however long ago. She has had her opportunity to deliver the takeover and she has been unable to pull it off. There may be all kinds of reasons for that but the cruel bottom line is a stark failure on her part. She can add it to her failure to complete the purchase of Liverpool FC too. Her credibility has now taken a severe battering. She hasn’t delivered a result.

There are those who have claimed some special inside track on the United takeover. They have used it as their USP to attract attention and made flamboyant claims as to their reach. They will be mightily disappointed if I’m correct and Staveley has fallen out of the picture.

It’s my understanding some extravagant job offers have been made to certain individuals – none of those would-be candidates appear to have the skills, expertise or experience to sustain any role of significance within a resurgent PL football club.

But some people need to have a look at themselves in terms of how easily taken in they might have been – how they have been played and used in this regard. If someone offers you something too good to be true, it frequently is the case that it isn’t.

But if you lack the tools to divorce your desperation for something to be true with a clear objectivity, then it is a good bet you’ll be suckered at best as a gullible fool or at worse useful idiot.

I have a certain view on the Premier League and its operations. I do think it is unduly influenced by Qatari interest via the TV company beIN and a Saudi led takeover of Newcastle United has become a proxy war in a middle-eastern dispute between rival nation states. I believe six Premier League clubs cast an undue influence over the Premier League and few can deny the true motives of those six clubs following the disclosures of Operation Big Picture. That demonstrated the cartel-like nature of those clubs and you can imagine the lack of enthusiasm for a big hitter such as a Saudi-backed Newcastle United joining the fun at the top end of the league.

I also believe the PL’s legal counsel offered arbitration in the protracted PL takeover process because that judgement would likely find in its favour. Frankly, it’s a stretch to argue the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia is a separate entity from that same sovereign state.

With good cause we can point to the position at Man City with the Abu Dhabis and highlight how the Owners & Directors Test has been applied differently in M11 to NE1.

But those involved in all of this who want to see a takeover of Newcastle United happen have a choice.

They can remain angry at the manoeuvrings of the Premier League and other dark forces. They can nurse a grievance at how differently this takeover has been treated compared to others. And they can pursue legal action which is likely to be time-consuming, expensive with no guarantee of success.

Or they can go back to the drawing board and reshape the purchase of Newcastle United FC.

So far as I can see it, the consortium of the Saudi Public Investment Fund, Amanda Staveley (PCP) and the Reuben Bros is finished. That is flogging a dead horse.

If the Saudi interest in United is to be realised, a change in approach is required and it will need a different vehicle to drive it to it’s joy-filled #CANS conclusion.

That may be an individual from Saudi being established as a sole purchaser or a variation of that I’m not certain. 

Whether you believe a flight tracker graphic is proof Mike Ashley is on his way to Dubai to sign off the deal depends how optimistic or gullible you are. I’d just remind everyone that Ashley regularly does one abroad at this time of year and it has been a persistent frustration he has apparently been out of the picture when the January transfer window opens.  

It is probably best no-one seems to know what is going on. The briefings to third parties created a frenzy and may have temporarily provided a synthetic sense of self importance with some. Those with a cloying desire for attention got it. 

But it was all a chimera – Newcastle United remains in the ownership of Mike Ashley and we are stuck in the zombie state we have been for the last thirteen years – becoming more disillusioned and bitter as a group of supporters but falling further behind in every way on and off the park.

Are we in a final act of this takeover drama? No idea and neither does anyone else. Not even those centrally involved I’d suggest. 

As ever, we’ll just have to wait and see but rather like Brexit, we’re into the end game and if something hasn’t happened within the next few weeks then I believe it really is time to forget it for the foreseeable future.

Keep On, Keepin’ On …

 MICHAEL MARTIN