It’s getting closer … is it here yet … has it landed? What’s that plane at Newcastle Airport? Is this it? The Newcastle United takeover? How much longer? Weeks? Months? Days? Hours? Now? Release us from this torture … this agony of waiting.

Waiting to see the back of Mike Ashley and an end to the choking grip he has had on Newcastle United and the aberration of sport he represents. A man who has suffocated Newcastle United for 13 years watching the value of his asset rise by dent of every new lucrative TV deal but doing nothing but sweat his asset. Allowing every part of Newcastle United to fall into neglect … the competitiveness of the first team squad, St James’ Park, the training ground and academy …. everything cheapened, our famous old Geordie club little more than an advertising hoarding for his businesses with our stadium defiled by the logos of a business that has become loathed. He has made good men despair … Kevin Keegan, Alan Shearer, Chris Hughton, Jonas Guitteraz, Rafa Benitez … and others.

But he’ll be gone. He has cashed out. We hope gone to count £300m and congratulate himself on his investment. His balance sheet will show the aggravation, the hatred going his way has all been worth while. It will be impossible to convince him otherwise. This is the lens through which he views the world. Ashley is a man with wealth beyond the imagination of you and I. But such is the poverty of his spirit and the meanness of his world view he will never have the riches we have. Put a price on being inside SJP for some of the most wonderful moments of your supporting life. All those fantastic wins and goals which saw our old stadium erupt with joy. Ashley will never know that. He will never have such riches.

And he will never know and feel part of what we hope is about to come to our club. He will never be part of a communion of people thrilled to be together to share wonderful moments, generate that excitement, wonderment  and solidarity that being a Newcastle United supporter bestows. Never create and be part of a folklore to be passed through generations. Ashley and his cohorts may sneer at that sentiment as they seek cheap thrills squandering money at roulette tables and going on binges with people he pays to be his drinking partners. Spew in the fireplace, Mike, you’re winning pal … keep telling yourself that.

This is the takeover few outside of our Black & White tribe wanted to happen. For some and I include Amnesty International, they have a genuine misgiving about the Saudi backed takeover of our club. We should respect and understand that. Intstructively, Amnesty express no opinion on who should and shouldn’t own our club or any other one for that matter. Others have weaponised human rights and the grief of a journalist’s widow to attack the takeover. They are blind to the £Bns in weaponry UK PLC exports to Saudi Arabia and the thousands of British jobs in the Defence industry that depend upon it. They turn a blind-eye to the investments in prime London real estate, in The Independent newspaper and appear ignorant of the copper-bottomed fact that KSA is one of this country’s biggest and most important allies.

I laughed out loud at Jonathan Liew (The Guardian) writing for the New Statesman – click here conflate some absolute poisonous nonsense on twitter towards Hatice Cengiz fiance  of murdered journalist Jamal Khashogi with the genuine sentiments of Newcastle United supporters. Jonathan, Twitter isn’t real mate.  If you want evidence to support the decline of any kind of morality in any kind of setting, Twitter is an excellent place to start. Period. It is unrepresentative and a boneheaded proposition to suggest otherwise. If it were, Mike Ashley would have been hanged from the top of The Milburn a decade ago. Liew insinuates there is a moral vacuum at the heart of what has been our disaffection with Ashley. This lad should compete in the Olympics as he’d win a Gold in jumping to conclusions.

Here’s a thing Jonathan, the Qataris, are as culpable of human rights abuses as those alleged against the Saudis. They have also bribed their way to hosting a World Cup and …. roll of the drums they have paid the Premier League …. £500m for the rights to stream our football across the vast territory of the Middle East and North Africa.  

Jonathan will know how popular PL football is in the Middle East. Perhaps his colleague at The Guardian, Sunderland-supporting football writer, Jonathan Wilson has briefed him. Wilson will know because he covered the PL for ArabNews,a news outlet based in … wait for it … Riyadh, Saudi Arabia – here is some of Wilson’s work for the Saudi owned news-line and very good it is too – click here

But hey, writing about football for the Saudis, like selling them bombs to use in the Yemen, having shareholdings in the Independent, Uber … none of that is as bad as owning Newcastle United. This really crosses the rubicon. And this is, wait for it, whataboutery … do me a favour man!

Where government might be legitimately lobbied about the moral suitability of foreign powers buying into British industry or UK cultural life this is now redirected to us powerless saps sitting in the stands at St James’ Park. We have this responsibility now. Something tells me there might be something going seriously askew with British democracy if this is really the truth.

But it is all a false premis. And it is one I feel absolutely certain would not be being trotted out were this takeover one involving say, Arsenal, Spurs, Chelsea, West Ham et al.

The Newcastle United takeover, I hope, represents a paradigm shift in football. We have seen in the last twenty years a slide of football investment towards London and the south – the new Wembley Stadium, Abromovich’s Chelsea revolution, the gifting of a stadium to West Ham, the new Arsenal and Tottenham stadia, investment in Bournemouth, Southampton and Watford. Previous staples of the top level, Leeds and Blackburn have slipped from view. Sheffield United’s resurgence is welcome but rare. After Burnley, Newcastle United is the only club at any point on the northern compass of the football map.

I could go further and detail the impact of ten years of austerity on the NE, the disproportionate amounts of infrastructure and every other kind of investment towards London and the south as opposed to the North as well as the invisibility of the so-called Northern Powerhouse anywhere outside Manchester.

With this takeover will come the location of power in NE1 – real, economic and soft. Our political class has often let us down and the despair of that can be seen in Blyth (BLYTH!!!!) voting in a barely literate Tory no-hoper as its MP illustrates that disaffection perfectly. New Labour didn’t really give any special favours to the NE. The region gave more in safe seats for Mandelson, Milburn, Blair et al than it ever got back really.

This takeover will, I pray, put the NE on the map. Have a global impact. In a football sense I have a wild ambition that our club acts as a beacon, is inspirational and raises local morale. Looking at the power and expertise within the consortium taking the club over I’m hopeful there will be the kind of investment within the city-region that the Abu Dhabis have brought to Manchester via their ownership of City. Have a trip around East Manchester to witness that regeneration while the Etihad Campus is something to be envied.

The regeneration of Tyneside has stalled in reality. The current COVID-19 pandemic will tip the country into a recession. That’s what economists tell us rather than a fanzine gobshite. You reading this who call this region your home will know we are less resilient to withstand the batterings of economic turn-downs. When the UK gets a chill, the NE gets the flu.

If this takeover and the resources it potentially brings means we have something to rebuild with then who will question that? Something tells me Boris and his mates won’t be thinking about you and your bairns. Not really.

The NE region has never had enough powerful friends. It has lacked heft and even when it had constituencies providing half a Labour cabinet they were too squeamish to afford us any preferred treatment that would have leveled us up. They dropped that ball.

But I’ll leave the half-arsed political commentary with this – no-one outside of us wants this takeover to happen. No-one really wants to see Newcastle United or the city-region around it thrive.There is at best indifference but we’ll also be on the end of spite, envy and grotesque misrepresentations. Every class-based regional stereotype and prejudice is going to be thrown at us by the metropolitan media and there will be industrial amounts of phoney liberal handwringing rooted within highly selective moral outrage. Let’s be under no illusions that a well-resourced Newcastle United, straining at the leash represents a threat to the status quo not to mention a sickening barrier to the aspirations of others who figured without a giant in the North waking from its slumbers … or ‘kin coma. 

I may be shouting into the wind here but our club is going to have plenty enemies and critcism will be fierce so we should be ready to stick together. No-one can control the slobbering goons of social media but in the real world, supporters have to close ranks, form that siege mentality and truly be UNITED!

We could be about to see a step change in the history of our club. We could be moving from a barely also ran to a front runner. Let’s do it together … put Newcastle United first every time … our club …. the Club of the North.

Keep On, Keepin’ On …

MICHAEL MARTIN