Another strange but largely quiet week in the Newcastle United takeover story. I say quiet but a week not without moments of the surreal. Obviously there are episodes of great comedy as our friends in Chicken Town discovered they will face at least another season in the Third Division or whatever the marketing men call it. The more you look at their plight, the more modest the warnings this fanzine made back in 2018 when the two chancers took over from billionaire Ellis Short now appear. Never-mind, 6-in-a-row-nee-debt-marra-FTM will keep them warm next season fighting relegation to the Fourth Division. It is impossible not to laugh.

But with matters closer to home I couldn’t help snort at the hair-islanded simpleton Steve McClaren’s quoted comment that a Saudi-backed takeover at Newcastle United might mean a smaller budget for the club than that provided by Mike Ashley. Nurse, nurse!  

I should know better by now after a life-time as a Mag, the football media still provides moments of high farce. Take last week while Tony Evans of The Independent click here claimed though the United takeover was likely to happen the aftermath may not mean the massive spending spree much discussed (or rather reported by the kick-a-ball press) will happen. Whether that is part of The Independent’s strategy to dial down B&W support for the takeover who knows but perhaps Tony should have a word with his colleagues in the gutter press who persist in reporting United bids for Coutinho, Gale, Zaha et al. Someone is writing a whole load of shite and the question is who or if not all? To my knowledge we went a full seven days without a Pochettino to United story. That’s a first since March.

I know I’m not the only one whose interest in the noble art of boxing carried an added dimension in the last week. News that Anthony Joshua will fight Tyson Fury for the British heavyweight title in a two bout deal will likely take place not in the UK but the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will have raised a few eyebrows.

Obviously we have all read with interest the various outpourings of condemnation for what some believe the United takeover by a Saudi-backed consortium to represent – mainly sports-washing of a sovereign nation’s international reputation and a distraction from its human rights abuses. This is a persuasive perspective and not one I could deny (and I support the takeover) but the differing levels of coverage to the Saudi-backed Newcastle United takeover and the likely decision to host the Joshua-Fury bouts in Saudi is stark.

Here is the report in The Independent covering the likely location of the Joshua-Fury contest – click here – and The Guardian – click here 

You will read both articles and note largely the absence of the kind of impassioned vitriol against such a high profile fight being taken to Saudi Arabia. Indeed The Guardian has given greater coverage to the involvement of a Dublin gangster in the bout click here  than the human rights abuses in KSA.

It’s a good few days since the bout(s) likely location in Saudi Arabia being reported in the media but as yet I’m not seeing any of the pseudo-liberal media quoting Amnesty International in their reportage, attention-seeking, largely obscure MPs making demands of the government, letters written to various Secretaries of State and of course Hatice Cengiz writing to the British Boxing Board of Control to block the fight from going to Saudi, pleading with Eddie Hearn to make less money from the fight and all the rest of it. I wonder why? Could it be that the people handling Cengiz’s PR, who I’d guess are based in Qatar, don’t have as much investment in Boxing as they do football? Thus they don’t weaponise Cengiz so much? I’m such a cynic, I know.

Similarly, although Saudi Arabia has been accused of wholesale TV piracy to include sports outside of football, it would appear the TV companies who will bid to cover the contest might be comfortable with the allegations made against KSA. This is weird.

I may have missed it but I’ve not read or heard The Independent’s full time anti-Saudi Arabia-NUFC correspondent, Miguel Delaney beseeching boxing fans to either boycott the bout or attend carrying flags demanding justice for Jamal Khashoggi in the same way he did Newcastle United supporters post-any takeover. I’ll await with interest Delaney’s protest plans he is co-ordinating to accompany the bout, the media-wide blackout of the event he is campaigning for and the whole related hoopla.

Delaney has had a great takeover story so far. His profile has been raised considerably by the outspoken position he has taken and he’s even made it into the pretend-kitchen of the Sunday Supplement on the back of it. But I’m not seeing an equal level of reportage from The Independent’s torch-bearer for the down-trodden for an event that will attract a significantly bigger audience than Newcastle United away to Burnley. Funny that, maybe Miguel has been too busy (ahem) “curating” his social media posts (aka woke-washing) to meet with the image he wishes to develop, rather than give it the full treatment in the pages of the UK’s least prestigious quality newspaper. I must stop this cynicism.

This is a good piece by Simon Bird (The Mirror) – click here 

It is interesting in its own right but it raises further questions about the leaking of information the PL is doing directly or indirectly given what has been provided for Simon to look at.

It comes only days before the Premier League’s Bill Bush told the Newcastle United Supporters Trust:

“It was also confirmed to the Trust that the potential takeover is still not completed but ongoing. The Premier League stressed to the Trust their ownership test is stricter than many are lead to believe”. NUST (12/Jun/20)

Hmm. You can speculate on the purpose of the Premier League’s very talkative and media obliging PL Executive Director, Bill Bush Click here –  making such a comment to a group of Newcastle United supporters.

What Bush might need to elaborate upon … perhaps the next time he is talking to either journalists directly himself or via his associates at beIN what exactly his comment about the ownership test being stricter than what is believed actually means.

The Owners & Directors Test is what it is and it is detailed here – go to Section F –  and there’s a good explanation here 

TF has already published the opinion of some legal counsel here 

To my knowledge there is no additional set of guidance potential owners and directors might need to pass. With my limited knowledge of these matters I’d suggest making it up as you go along might not be a tried and tested way of impressing those to be rebuffed in the test or m’learned friends who will subsequently adjudicate on the matter.

I wonder if Bill Bush of the Premier League had anything to do with Martin Ziegler of The Times apparently coming to see a leaked letter (click here)  from the UK government to the PL allegedly supporting the Saudi backed takeover of Newcastle United? You would think Mr Bush (ahem, deep breath, nervous laugh) would have an interest (cough) in ensuring the takeover process is confidential wouldn’t you? You might wonder  if we had a fully functioning, objective level of reporting why the kick-a-ball media wouldn’t look a little closer at the continuous leaks of information around the Owners & Directors Test? Well, you would until you realise that the press is invested in the whol leaking business in order to prop it up and remains ignorant of how it is being used and the story that exists within the whole pattern of information passed tactically to various news sources. 

Anyway, the buyers side appear to have stopped telling journalists the takeover is imminent and most people – bar some demented wannabe ITK merchants on social media have accepted – nobody really knows for sure what is happening – other than the takeover hasn’t happened yet. Everything else is guess work.

But we all got a look at Amanda Staveley in action as the case against Barclays in a claim worth £1:5Bn get underway. I can’t imagine this case will be sorted in an afternoon but what does strike me is the hostility towards Staveley in some quarters of the football press. Some men (and it always men) appear to hate her. I’m not just talking about goons on social media whose remarks about her appearance are offensive. Offensive and simultaneously comical given I’d guess an idea of a romantic adventure for many of them is a night in on their own with a pizza and a sad wank before bedtime.

Anyway, for those bored enough to be interested you can have a peep into the Staveley court case here 

I really hope I never become tragic enough to click on that link.

No, there’s a definite unpleasantness towards Staveley which carries a whiff of misogyny. I do wonder as well at the value of kick-a-ball correspondents passing opinions on the proceedings of the high court and high finance as having much value? Then again, I am frequently astonished at the earnestness of those who opine on matters of Middle Eastern geo-politics without any degree of irony given their quite obvious lack of knowledge on the subject. These are crazy days indeed in more ways than one. Even for Newcastle United.

But the week ended on something of a high with the news 70s spoon-bender Uri Geller opining on the Newcastle United takeover. Naturally, the owt-4-a-click Chronicle published the ramblings of the attention-seeking cutlery worrier in full. Like you needed me to tell you that.

You’ll be relieved to learn he thinks it will happen. And that must mean #CANS eh?

Keep On Keepin’ On …

MICHAEL MARTIN