The long-awaited finale to the saga that is Mike Ashley’s sale of Newcastle United could be set to conclude very shortly, after two months of uncertainty surrounding the club’s future.
Premier League chiefs are likely, however, to leave the announcement of any deal in the club’s hands, having so far not commented on reports from Forbes’ Middle East office that the takeover has been approved already.
The Newcastle Chronicle are reporting that, despite vocal opposition to the takeover (which is being led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund) by other Premier League clubs and human rights activists, the owners and directors test is in its final stages. This should mean that Ashley can announce he is no longer owner in the coming weeks.
The protests towards the deal have led to the Premier League being especially thorough, but league officials have found no grounds which would force them to intervene in the takeover. The consortium, which was brokered by Amanda Stavely and the Reuben Brothers, are still set to make Newcastle the richest club in the country.
All that needs to happen once the governing body gives its approval is the transfer of funds between PIF and Mike Ashley, a transaction which will be met with jubilation across Tyneside. Since Ashley bought the club in 2007, he has overseen the club decline from European regulars to a bottom half club via two relegations to the Championship.
The Sports Direct owner has often been criticised for his lack of investment on the pitch, with the club often being left behind in the transfer market by rival clubs. The signing of Joelinton in the summer of 2019 was the first time the Magpies had broken their transfer record since signing Michael Owen in 2005.
Only time will tell if the new regime will be any better equipped to take Newcastle higher up the table as, other than their net worth, not a lot is known about the consortium’s ambitions for Newcastle. FFP regulations will also come into play, meaning the club won’t be able to transform into Real Mag-rid overnight.
Steve Bruce has admitted that he knows little about goings on behind the scenes – rumours are swirling that he will be relieved of his duties by new ownership – and said: “The reason I can’t say anything on it is, the media probably know more than me. You know what it is? In that respect – great – because then I can’t have any other ideas out there. As I say, whatever is best for Newcastle United is the best for me.”