There is no real factual update to report following yesterday’s statement from the Bin Zayed Group (BZG) but its still worth reflecting how things have shifted in the last 24 hours.

A day ago, journalists were quoting senior, though continually unnamed Newcastle United sources as stating BZG had not provided proof of funds. That was shattered into a million pieces with the claim proof of funds had been provided to Mike Ashley’s legal representatives on the 17/Apr/19. I think we know here that when journalists quote senior Newcastle United sources, they can only be referring to Lee Charnley. We also know Charnley’s behaviour within the club (though not only him) has been to communicate to staff to impress upon them the need not to comment about any potential takeover. We’re told Charnley rarely communicates with staff so this is a new development too. Likewise we know of others who are anxious to control comment regarding how the club operates and communicates. There is a definite jumpiness at SJP right now.

The problem journalists have of course is Newcastle United is not really run from St James’ Park and they have no relationship with the people close to Ashley within his real business interests. The club does not have its own legal team with United just part of the MASH portfolio – all of the legalities and everything else will be run directly from those who represent MASH. We don’t even know who they are so journalists in many ways are banging their heads off a brick wall using off-the-record briefings from Lee Charnley to build their reporting. It would not be at all surprising if Charnley himself is being fed rubbish by Ashley and Justin Barnes (for example). SKY TV who often have these big news stories dropped into their laps appear to be having the same problems as the newslines which might explain why Jim White had a face on him like a bucket of cold piss when he was covering the story for SKY NEWS last night.

Earlier in the week, Luke Edwards, The Telegraph was probably the most sceptical (he remains so) of the leading journalists and quoted those senior sources at United as describing the bid as “Total Bollocks” and “Bullshit“. His tone has softened considerably in his latest piece and is far less unbelieving on Wednesday afternoon as he was on Monday – click here. Luke isn’t the only one to exhort United for an on-the-record statement from United but Lee Charnley won’t provide that and it all might be a bit pointless to ask Charnley to comment on something he might not know everything about. His boss, Mike Ashley, is apparently, on holiday. Hmm.

Craig Hope and Matt Law of The Mail however have gone further. They claim the statement made by Midhat Kidwai, the Bin Zayed Group’s Managing Director also said they were assisting the Premier League in their ‘fit-and-proper’ process is not true according to their sources at the Premier League – click herebut they do add that sources close to the club (who other than Lee Charnley?) have confirmed that a ‘heads of agreement‘ document was submitted to the Premier League by Newcastle and was signed by both parties. Now what is within that heads of agreement document remains unknown but it does move us way beyond what was being described as Total Bollocks and Bullshit only a couple of days ago.

Elsewhere Sky Sports News go with a headline “Agreed Newcastle takeover terms sent to PL” – click here but there’s nothing really substantially different to what you know already. SKY’s Pete Graves probably speaks for many of us with his tweet yesterday: I’m not gonna lie… The silence from #nufc AND PL makes me nervous… But surely BZG wouldn’t just fabricate all this to me and all the national media? What would they gain, other than awful PR? More twists and turns ahead I’m sure. 

The Chronicle have moved to go with the line they understand Mike Ashley is awaiting BZG to make an official bid for the club – click here. This is the new line in attempting to return the serve to BZG I’d imagine but we appear to be going round in circles as the original statement clearly detailed Terms Have Been Agreed.

Paul Fraser of the Northern Echo carries a very positive tone and neatly collects the facts and position as to where we currently are – click here

However, without a clear statement from Mike Ashley and/or Newcastle United this is becoming farcical and leading to a feeding frenzy of speculation and wild interpretation. It won’t end until United takes control of the agenda and states explicitly what is happening – on-the-record – as opposed to off-the-record stuff with Lee Charnley.

But we do know – Due Diligence has been completed – proof of funds has been provided – Terms of Agreement are said to have been agreed (which include a price for the club of £350m) and if they haven’t why would some form of correspondence has been entered into by both United and BZG with the Premier League?

What we don’t know is whether Ashley is in discussions with other parties to sell United – which is entirely possible – other interest has been widely reported. We don’t know if BZG has any form of exclusivity as yet – which might be the purpose of the positioning which has been underway in the media. We can’t explain why Non-Disclosure Agreements haven’t been signed – but the terms of those might extend only to what was found in the Data Room – this is entirely speculation.

We can reflect upon other takeovers for clubs which go through without the agonies associated with Newcastle United. None of those clubs were ever owned by Mike Ashley, who we have absolutely no doubt is placing his own interests way above everything else and in particular Newcastle United. Ashley might have moved to being more of a willing seller now but he remains no friend of the club and interested only what every deal will mean to him.

We are in his hands as ever but one thing is for certain if this is blown as the Sheikh Mansour deal is alleged to have been and if Rafa walks away from the club at the end of June then the consequences could be catastrophic for Newcastle United.

Another day of agony waiting for the next move.

NB – for those who want to construct conspiracy theories may we point you in the direction of the registered address for Mash Holdings* – Real Estate Brokers, Office # 514 Pinnacle Building , Sheikh Zayed Road, Al Barsha 1 
Dubai – United Arab Emiratesclick here The Bin Zayed Group are based at Boulevard sheikh Mohamed bin Rashid, Boulevard plaza – tower 2 – Emaar – 17th floor – Dubai – United Arab Emiratesclick here

Possibly a coincidence but get those tin-foil hats out now folks. Anyone know where Mike Ashley is “on holiday?”

If you can be bothered tell us how far it is between the two offices and how to get there – might be useful? Oh, and how download a good plane-tracker App.

*Very likely nothing to do with Mike Ashley and just a coincidence but good for a 30 second but of wild speculation eh? 

But finally, some wise words from George Caulkin, The Times – “The lesson (for me)? Don’t take anything as read, however tempting. Don’t assume anything is fact, until it happens. Newcastle craves new ownership, a change of direction, positivity. Rightly, wrongly or somewhere in the middle, I don’t believe it. I can’t. Not until it’s done”.