As new owners spell out the club’s aims, the ‘dismal days of Mike Ashley are gone. Alan Shearer, a Newcastle United legend, has described the Saudi Arabian-backed purchase as a “great day” for the Premier League club’s fans.
Relegated twice from the top flight during Mike Ashley’s 14-year tenure as owner, all the club has done is “tick along and survive”, Shearer said. “We’ve had no real ambition and our fans deserve better,” he told the BBC. “I understand why there is so much happiness in the city and I feel exactly the same. Our fans also need to know that they matter, because they haven’t for 14 years, so today is special for them.”
Four years in the making, the £300m takeover has been confirmed by the Premier League and the “dismal days of Mike Ashley are over”, The Chronicle said. “Fans are now wondering exactly how things will pan out over the coming months and years.”
🤝 An investment group led by the Public Investment Fund, and also comprising PCP Capital Partners and RB Sports & Media, has completed the acquisition of 100% of Newcastle United Limited and Newcastle United Football Club Limited from St. James Holdings Limited.
— Newcastle United FC (@NUFC) October 7, 2021
We take a look at the state of the takeover and what the new owners have indicated about the Toon’s future.
Why Was the Newcastle Takeover delayed?
Ashley agreed to sell the club to a Saudi-led partnership consisting of the Public Investment Fund (PIF), PCP Capital Partners, and RB Sports & Media in April of last year. Concerns were raised about the kingdom’s human rights record and a pirate TV channel – beoutQ – airing sport to its residents as the Premier League reviewed the move under its owners’ and directors’ criteria.
The Premier League also wanted to know if Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia would effectively be the club’s owner, but the buying group maintained their PIF was separate from the government. Regardless of the fact that Bin Salman is identified as PIF’s chairman, according to the BBC.
Concerns raised by Amnesty and beIN Sports
Amnesty International and Qatar-based beIN Sports. The Premier League’s Middle East broadcast partner, also criticized the potential merger when it was announced.
Amnesty UK director Kate Allen said: “All businesses need to safeguard against any possible links to human rights violations, and English football is no different.”
Meanwhile, beIN Sports CEO Yousef al-Obaidly wrote to all top-flight club chairpersons, expressing his displeasure with the contract.
In the letter Al-Obaidly accused the Saudi Arabian government of the “facilitation of the near three-year theft of the Premier League’s commercial rights – and in turn your club’s commercial revenues – through its backing of the huge-scale beoutQ pirate service”. He added: “It is no exaggeration to say that the future economic model of football is at stake.”
Why has the takeover now been agreed?
The buyout attempt was revived after the consortium, managed by British entrepreneur Amanda Staveley, demonstrated that the Saudi government would not have influence over the club and that the PIF would be treated as a separate organization, according to the BBC. Saudi Arabia reached an agreement with beIN Sports over an alleged piracy dispute.
The Premier League, Newcastle United FC and St James Holdings Limited confirmed that following the completion of the owners’ and directors’ test the club has been sold to the consortium with “immediate effect”.
“The legal disputes concerned which entities would own and/or have the ability to control the club following the takeover,” a statement said. “All parties have agreed the settlement is necessary to end the long uncertainty for fans over the club’s ownership. The Premier League has now received legally binding assurances that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will not control Newcastle United Football Club. All parties are pleased to have concluded this process which gives certainty and clarity to Newcastle United Football Club and their fans.”
What is the PIF and how much is it worth?
Newcastle have now become “one of the world’s richest football clubs” after the takeover, Sky Sports said.
The PIF will own an 80% controlling stake and has reported assets at £320 billion. Meanwhile, Staveley controls 10% of the company, while the Reuben brothers, David and Simon, own the remaining 10%, with a combined wealth of £21.5 billion according to The Sunday Times Rich List.
According to The Sun, the PIF’s £320 billion fortune is ten times that of Manchester City’s Sheikh Mansour and over 50 times that of Paris Saint-Nasser Germain’s Al-Khelaifi. Newcastle will now have “by far the wealthiest owners in international football.”
Where do Newcastle need to Improve?
Some current Newcastle players, such as Allan Saint-Maximin, Miguel Almiron, Joe Willock, and Callum Wilson, will almost certainly have a future with the club, while many more will be considered as expendable in the near future.
Given Wilson’s injury history, bringing in a top-tier goalie and an exceptional striker would be a smart place to start. A seasoned centre-back would also help a lot. However, much will depend on the future manager, as they likely have certain players in mind.
Realistic Options for The Toons
While we ponder the possibilities at St James’ Park. There are a few players who will be entering the final six months of their contract in January and might be available for a reasonable fee.
Since Newcastle is not yet a Champions League team. Players like Kylian Mbappe, Paul Pogba, and Ansu Fati are likely out of reach. But they may be able to tempt players from the next tier down.
Barcelona’s financial problems have been well-publicized, and it would be tough for them to turn down a reasonable offer for Ousmane Dembele. The notion of Dembele and Saint-Maximin on the wings for Newcastle is enticing, and it would undoubtedly excite the fans.