NUFC Takeover: Yes,No,No Comment!

As takeovers go, this is possibly the most Newcastle of takeovers. First announced in January, then nothing until the beginning of April when the ‘Owners and Directors Tests’ started. What followed was a painful 17 weeks of waiting for an answer, then a withdrawal from the consortium, due to the time taken. Now it seems there may still be hope, all parties are still talking, except the Premier League. In that time we were thrown into the middle of a Geo-Political war, a piracy battle that has been going on for years, and a human rights movement against one of the interested parties, when all we wanted was an answer on who would own our football club going forward!

Hope was high on Tyneside, and throughout the Geordie Nation, that a consortium of owners wanted to take our club to that next level, after 13 years of stagnation, and backwards movement. There was talk of investing in the region, investing in the academy, all the right noises were being made. It represented a chance for the city and the club to unite once more, after a period of time where the club felt as far from the city and it’s people as any other club. The club may be named Newcastle United, it was anything but!

While we waited for answers, glad to see the back of Mike Ashley, we were told we shouldn’t want the takeover, told we should be grateful for Ashley, a ‘better the devil you know’ line. We were told to be happy with Steve Bruce, as he had done a ‘fantastic’ job, it essentially felt like:

Little old Newcastle, in the cold north, far enough away from us to care, be happy with what you have, and don’t get above your station!

In the statements released, and indeed by some of the actions taken by the consortium during this whole saga, it never felt like they felt the same way as our ‘Southern Overlords!’

They saw the promise Newcastle had. Not just as an investment, but as a project to grow. They got the city, and its people. There was talk of Saudi Arabia mirroring their Vision 2030 plan into the North East, The Reubens helped the Newcastle Foodbank out with donations and money, during these unprecedented times, Amanda Staveley has communicated more with fans in the past two weeks than the club have in 13 years! You get the feeling they just get club, the area, and its fans…You could tell we were in this together.

Where are we now?

When the statement came out that the consortium made up of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), Amanda Staveley and her PCP Capital Partners, and The Reuben Brothers had ‘withdrawn’ from the purchase of Newcastle United, you felt the wave of regret, disappointment and anger move across the Newcastle faithful.

It felt like a gut punch, dreams of a brighter future dashed by a public statement. That wouldn’t be the last though. The same night Amanda Staveley would do an emotional interview with George Caulkin, stating their interest to find a resolution to the deal. The Reubens have released a similar statement, PIF through sources to the local press have said the same.

This is where it gets strange! The Club released a statement about the takeover, not an ‘interview’ with Mike Ashley. The clubs statement, read that ‘never say never‘ and that Ashley is still committed to THIS deal! Yesterday Sky Sports Keith Downie gave an update from Ashley’s people, stating that the current owner is now personally dealing with the issue, and the consortium to find a resolution to this mess.

So for the first time in any takeover sage, (and there have been a few!) Ashley has not used his ‘friends’ in the media to throw mud at a consortium or potential buyer. There has been no ‘tyre kickers’, not ‘whats an extra £10 million?’, we have a committed seller, who wants his money for a business he no longer has an interest in.

So the current state of play is , we have committed buyers, a committed seller, yet the one party who holds all of this within their hands has said nothing…

Richard Masters, Premier League Chief Executive.

Premier League

The one party that hasn’t come out of this with any credibility is the Premier league! a weird statement to write when one of the parties is Mike Ashley, but this is 2020 so anything can happen.

The time taken by the Premier League seemed to be the main contributing factor as to why the consortium pulled out. That clock on a decision is still running, if reports are led to be believed. Liam Kennedy from the Shields Gazette has stated that no official withdrawal was given to the league, even though a statement was released to the press. Which raises the question, are they still counting this ODT as live, and continue to hide behind the confidentiality of the process as a reason why no statement has been released.

The English Football League (EFL) released a statement recently to state that various directors in a potential takeover of Charlton Athletic had failed their own ODT, yet no similar statement has been released by the Premier League.

This could be down to the fact the League are actually yet to make a decision. A test that was advised to all parties should take between 2-4 weeks, was in its 17th week when the ‘withdrawal’ came. Now in current circumstances with Covid-19 you could excuse the league a few extra weeks to make a decision, but to essentially sit on their hands without making one is a disgrace.

This had led to Newcastle fans uniting as one, to demand an answer of the Premier League. A petition was started, which has reached well over 100,000 signatures, letters to MP’s have been sent, with responses agreeing that answers are needed, even Rishi Sunak and Boris Johnson have responded as MP’s to say the League need to give an answer. Yet no answer has been forthcoming, with MP for Wanbeck Ian Lavery stating:

We haven’t had any response whatsoever, not even an acknowledgement of receipt from the Premier League, which I think is fairly disrespectful. We may need to consider further options

To look at this from a neutral’s point of view, the Premier League are in an unenviable position. If they accepted the deal, a court case may have come their way protesting the takeover from outside sources. If they had rejected the deal, court cases from an upset and confused consortium, and an aggrieved current owner! Personally I know who I would back in that instance.

However it is these outside sources that seem to hold the power! Claims that several clubs have let the league know of their aversion to the deal, namely Liverpool and Spurs, and Qatari based beIN Sports have also made they feelings known.

As far as I’m aware the ODT is a legal procedure between three parties, the seller, the buyers, and the Premier League just to make sure everything is above board. It seems throughout this who process the goal post’s have been moved that much, they are no longer on the same pitch.

From information given to us, the Premier League have decided who they think the directors will be, despite assurances that is not the case. They have on the face of it listened to parties not involved in a legal process. It’s not hard to see why Newcastle fans, The consortium and Mike Ashley are not happy. Yet the Premier League say nothing!

You get the feeling this takeover is far from over, but feel a decision could be a way off yet. What needs to happen now is the Premier league need to sit down with ALL parties involved and give a response to a test they have been doing for 17+ weeks. Then deal with the consequences after the fact. With reports of a court case against the Chinese TV rights holders, you would get the feeling they wouldn’t want to have to fight two other cases (I doubt an appeal, or legal action from Ashley will be joint!).

The League need to do whats rights by the fans that keep the game going, and let them know what is happening. The longer this gets dragged on, the worse it is!

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