This year has not been great if you are a Newcastle fan. There has been mediocre performance after mediocre performance, a manager who when he’s back is against the wall comes out fighting…against the fans, and the takeover that never was, or could still be! Who knows at this point?
However it is the attempted Takeover by the consortium made up of Saudi Arabia’s PIF, Amanda Staveley’s PCP Capital Partners and the Reuben Brothers that has been the focus of many fans, and not just Newcastle fans! It is something which has dominated the media for numerous reasons. Although at the moment it has not officially been passed or rejected, it has brought the Premier League into the limelight more than they would feel comfortable with.
All in all it has been a stressful time for the league. They have had their practises questioned in parliament, they have felt the full fury of Newcastle fans, to the point some were even blocked by the leagues official twitter page, and most surprising they have felt the fury of current Newcastle owner Mike Ashley, who has not held back or hidden his feelings about the leagues practices in recent months.
But this seems all very personal! The Premier league picking on little old Newcastle, and fans upset we didn’t get what we want, an over reaction saying the league is corrupt! But we hate to say we told you so….or do we?
While a ban on supporters attending games is still in place, the league will have you believe they are looking after the fans by urging the government to allow fans back into grounds to watch our beloved teams, stating it may be effecting our mental health. But the real motivation from the league, and some of its members have been dragged from the shadows, and firmly have the spotlight on them in recent weeks!
While Sky and BT Sports were showing every game towards the end of last season, that has dried up this season, instead replaced by a PPV system implemented by the league, to force fans to pay out more to get a quarter of the experience they normally would have attending a game.
But this isn’t the main talking point of recent weeks. That has been the proposal by Manchester United and Liverpool of ‘Project Big Picture’. Now on the face of it, some of the proposals are decent, more money for the lower leagues….well actually thats where it ended. The main part of this proposal was for the so called ‘Big 6’ to run the English game! They wanted it to be that only 6 votes could pass anything, as opposed to the current majority of 14! they also wanted the ability to reject or pass any takeover attempt from another member club!
Which brings me nicely back onto Newcastle. These proposals were rejected out of hand, and some clubs even condemning the proposal. However an article today has shown that the Premier League, or at least those at the top were in favour of such a move!
It has been leaked that Richard Masters was aware of talks, and Gary Hoffman, who didn’t start at the league until June 1st was in favour of such a move, and wanted to be involved. To the point that he had a ‘secret’ meeting with representatives from the Big 6 the night before it went to a Premier league vote, and if the Telegraph hadn’t broken the original story, the other 14 member clubs wouldn’t have known a thing about it until said meeting!
So what has this got to do with Newcastle, and the takeover? Well everything really! The talks started in April, the Premier league apparently were aware of these talks at the time. The Owners and Directors Test started in and around the 9th of April.
The takeover as we know had dragged on for months, and the Premier League remained quiet about what was going on, while everyone was calling out for answers. It wasn’t until the consortium pulled out at the end of July, that Richard Masters started giving “answers”.
He denied claims by Amanda Staveley that clubs had tried to block the deal (namely Liverpool and Spurs)! Instead trying to put the blame back onto the consortium by not providing the answers the League felt were acceptable. These claims from the Premier league were shot down not only by the Consortium, but by Mike Ashley as well, who in a scathing statement called into question the practises of the League and specifically Richard Masters.
So lets put 2+2 together, and come out with 4, or at least 4.1! One of the things the Big 6 tried to include in their new look Football, was the ability to reject a takeover! When you look at the dates talks for ‘Project Big Picture’ and the ODT started, it wouldn’t be a massive jump to say the two were connected. The takeover during that time was never going to happen.
The Premier League forced the Consortium to jump through a lot of hoops, never actually leading anywhere. But never really had an end point, as Masters is quick to point out, they never officially rejected the Takeover, instead they parties pulled the deal.
With all this coming out in recent weeks, it is no longer looking like Newcastle fans were upset that we didn’t get what we wanted, it is now starting to look to other fans that we were right!
What the League didn’t count on was the backlash from fans, or angering Mike Ashley, who seems hell bent on taking it to the League, anyway he can.
Ashley has stated he would start legal proceedings, and has even hired Nick De Marco QC to represent him in his case against the league. But in this action against the powers that be, he has them flanked! On Tuesday it was announced that a letter had been sent to the League stating the intention to start a legal proceedings in a competition law case, unless certain documents were made available before 4pm on November 3rd. This letter sent by a fans group with the help of Robert O’Donoghue QC, has the backing of the current owner, and the public backing of De Marco, Jamie Reuben and Amanda Staveley’s husband Mehrdad Ghodoussi.
So here’s the new ‘Project Big Picture’, the Premier League and the Big 6 have been found wanting. Their attempts to rule football to protect them has been rejected, and now are threatening to join a European Super League, that would ensure they have more money. Newcastle fans were right, these clubs were scared of our Takeover, and didn’t want to risk being replaced by the behemoth that we would have become.
They have also managed to alienate fans from the game! A rejection of the PPV idea swept across the country, with Food Banks becoming the major winner in all of this, and not the pockets of footballs elite.
Will this go away? No of course not! The Premier league and its chosen few clubs have shown their true colours for everyone to see! And in a strange turn of events it is Mike Ashley leading the charge against them!