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An announcement regarding the takeover of Newcastle United Football Club by a Saudi-backed consortium could be with us by the end of the day, bringing an end to the 14-years of misery the majority of the Magpie's fans have endured during the Mike Ashley era.
But what are the details of the takeover, why has it taken 18-months to get completed and what effect will this have on the club, the current crop of players, and of course, the manager? We're going to take a closer look and try to answer all these questions below.
Who are the Saudi-led consortium?
The group looking to buy Newcastle includes Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund who will buy around 80% of the club, making them the majority owners. The very same consortium withdrew their original bid back in 2020 following reservations the Premier League had over Saudi Arabia banning the Qatari network beIN from showing the Premier League in their country, opting for illegal streams instead. That issue has now been fixed and beIN's four and a half year ban has been lifted which means that the Premier League will be shown in Saudi Arabia legally. In terms of how much the Saudi-led consortium have agreed to buy Newcastle for is up for debate with some outlets reporting that it is £250m and others suggesting that it is closer to £300m, either way, Ashley is going to get a decent price for the football club and that is all he ever wanted.
There are some that are against any Saudi-led takeover of Newcastle United or any other Premier League club for that matter, due to the nation's involvement in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi and their overall human rights record. Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain had their takeovers questioned for human rights reasons and still managed to get their deals done, so Newcastle fans probably don't need to be overly concerned by that particular issue. There are always going to be sections of football fans that are against a major takeover such as this one, especially in England where we have seen Man City plucked from obscurity to become one of the biggest clubs in Europe, all down to their oil-rich owners and their deep pockets, leaving fans of other teams to claim that City ‘bought the title'. In effect, this is true but the more big-spending clubs we produce the more we can level the playing field.
The will the future hold for Steve Bruce and his players?
We can't shy away from the fact that the Newcastle fans don't want Steve Bruce in charge anymore but Mike Ashley is hardly going to sack him and find a new manager when all he is concerned about is cashing in on the club as soon as possibly. When the Saudi-led consortium was ready to buy Newcastle last year one of the first things they had planned to do was change the manager, according to sources close to the group. With Newcastle struggling at the wrong end of the table, it is hard to see the new owners sticking with a manager that the vast majority of the fans have already turned against, so Bruce's days at the club are numbered. Bruce is odds on for the next Premier League manager to get the sack with some bookmakers offering odds as low as 4/9.
Some Newcastle players have been linked with moves away from the club even after the transfer window came to a close and while new investment would mean more money to spend on incoming transfers, there are a few players that the new owners will be looking to build their new-look team around. Allan Saint-Maximin is the star player in the Newcastle team and he gets the fans up on their feet, much in the mold of some of the Newcastle players of the past that played under ‘The Entertainers' era of Kevin Keegan. Jamaal Lascelles is the club captain and Jamal Lewis is a left-back with plenty of potential, while newly-signed Joe Willock and perhaps the likes of the Longstaff brothers will be encouraged to stay at the club for the longterm with the promise of new, better, players coming in.
Daring to dream
Warren Barton has already made his feelings known about the potential new owners and his feelings on seeing the back of Mike Ashley at last, needless to say, he is on the same wavelength as the Newcastle fans. There has already been talk of investment by the Saudi-led consortium who understand that the January transfer window could be key to retaining Newcastle's Premier League status. However, in the future, the Newcastle fans want to see money plowed into their academy, the community and the stadium, along with the squad, and any owner with any sense will understand that this is a long-term project that is going to take plenty of patients.
However, having seen Man City and PSG rise to the top of European football over the last decade, you can understand why Newcastle fans are getting really excited about their possible takeover as the Saudi group have made a point of talking about a return to ‘The Entertainers'. During the mid-90s, under the guidance of Kevin Keegan, Newcastle were arguably the best side to watch in the Premier League and they came really close to winning the league title and the FA Cup on a number of occasions. Despite this not being the club's heyday in terms of trophies, which is either the early 1900s or the 1950s depending on your league titles or domestic cups, ‘The Entertainers' provided Newcastle fans with exciting football and the belief that at the start of the season they would be challenging for major honours.
This takeover has the possibility to bring back the glory days to Newcastle United and end their nickname as ‘the nearly men' and make them a force to be reconded within the Premier League and alongside Europe's elite. However, getting to grips with FFP won;t be easy as the big six don;t like the idea of ‘other clubs' joining their group as we have seen with Everton who have plenty of money at their disposal but are restricted in how they can spend it, hense the upcoming new stadium. The Saudi-led consortium might have an edge ovr the Toffees though as they will bring even more money to the table and that will get the Premier League on their side which is half of the battle. This takeover could be one of the most important moves in football for a decade and might help bridge the gap between the top six and the rest of the division.