We were warned, but did we want to believe it? Did we imagine it would go this way? In the continued world of the Newcastle United Takeover, one word has dominated the narrative more than football, a word that will be blocked alongside ‘imminent’, ‘close’ and ‘shortly’ by most Newcastle fans!
That word is Geopolitics!
This hope episode has gone from dreaming of marquee signings, big name managers, investment in the club and city….to, how the hell does it work in the Middle East.
It seems from the outside looking in, because thats how it feels, as fans we are firmly on the outside, that the takeover consists of FOUR parties. The consortium, which is mostly the Public Investment Fund (PIF) from Saudi Arabia, The Premier League, Mike Ashley, and beIN Sports based in Qatar.
There has been mud slinging from the Saudi’s and the Qatari’s, in a political dispute that goes back to at least 2017. The Premier League seem to be looking out for themselves. And to be fair to Mike Ashley, he’s been mostly in the background, probably just wondering ‘When will I get my money?’
Yet with all this going on, we don’t seem any closer to a decision, and it’s getting tiresome, with even journalist’s. like the Shields Gazette Liam Kennedy, imploring the Premier league to make a decision NOW!
But in a time when managers, players and journalist’s alike are saying football isn’t the same without the fans! This seems to have completely flown past the Premier league and its head Richard Masters. While they sit in their office, hiding behind confidentiality, the Newcastle fans are being left behind without an answer! Surely there is a way for fans to be informed where we are at without the Premier League breaking any of the Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDA’s) put in place?
Understandably the Premier League are trying to sort out a piracy issue in the MENA region, they have failed to get anywhere with on NINE separate occasions. However their single mindlessness is coming at the expense of the Takeover and those associated with Newcastle United. They seem more intent in making sure their own revenue scheme is not effected before making a decision, which could help move everything else along.
Richard Masters has stuck to his line of “I can’t talk about it”, which will seem very similar to the “no comment” we’ve heard from the club for 10 years plus! All the while we sit here wondering what is happening with our club?
I don’t know about anyone else, but I try and stay away from politics in our own country. But since it was announced at the beginning of April that the Owners and Directors Test (ODT) had started, we have been thrown headfirst into Gulf politics, whether we wanted to or not.
BeIn sports and by de facto Qatar, have thrown themselves headlong into the takeover proceedings. There have been numerous calls from those who are directly linked to beIN for the takeover to be rejected, and even those who you have to delve a bit deeper to see their links voicing their opinions, just look at how some Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP) MP’s have thrown their voice into proceedings.
The current rights holders to show Premier League football in the MENA region, on the face of it have a legitimate issue with Saudi. Since the blockade of the Qatari borders started in 2017, versions of beIN’s broadcasts have been shown via BeoutQ, to the point beIN got the WTO involved, a few years ago, to try and help steer a direction in which the piracy issue could be resolved.
Since that report came out each side (Saudi and Qatar) have claimed a victory, and in truth they are both right. The WTO report did find KSA haven’t done enough to persecute those responsible for the piracy issue, however the WTO in find in favour of the Kingdom on 5 or the 6 issues put to them.
But what has followed is a PR and Political storm between the ‘warring’ nations, with Newcastle United caught firmly in the middle. In the Chronicle’s notebook this morning, Mark Douglas has even stated that both sides are paying PR firms to help hinder or push through the takeover.
There has even been talk that Qatar are behind the bid by American Henry Mauriss to act as back up should the Saudi bid fail. Personally I feel there may be a little bit of truth to it, and the timing of the bid was suspect, but who actually knows anymore.
There has also been issues around Human Rights, but that seems to have been brushed under the carpet, with no financially beneficial motive behind that line of thought. Which is why the piracy has taken the spotlight, with talk of Saudi bidding for TV rights once bidding is open in 2021.
Saudi to be fair to them have shown they are willing to clamp down on piracy of any form, with hundreds of websites shut down, that not only illegally streamed sports, but movies, TV programmes and even books. They have shut down BeoutQ (which first happened in 2019) and have allowed beIN to be a service provider once again. Whether this will be enough to pass it, only the Premier League know.
Qatar and beIn on their part are right to want some sort of compensation for monies lost due to the piracy issue, which has resulted in some job losses. Which should be an issue between the Saudi Government, Qatar and the Premier League. It should not come at the expense of a Premier League member club.
The whole thing is surrounded in self interest, while the club stagnates, and struggles to put things in place for next season. Who can sign off a sponsorship deal? Who can authorise signings for Steve Bruce? Who tells Bruce whether he has a job next season? Who will accept bids for outgoing players? Who handles the contract negotiations? It certainly won’t be Mike Ashley! he seems to have completely washed his hands of the club, and is now looking back to the High Street and what he can buy up, hoping at some point he will have £300 million plus deposited into his account.
So while everyone is playing politics, we as fans are left to ask..
Who is going to tell us whats happening?