Why you CAN believe a PCP Newcastle United takeover can be completed before Christmas.

Last week I read an article on the takeover in The Independent, and quite frankly it really narked me. This is why.

Firstly, difference of opinions is healthy and important and I have no problem debating subjects with any fan or journalist. What I have a problem with is articles based on outdated ‘facts’, lazy assumptions and misinformation. The overarching theme from the article was that fans believing a takeover could be completed by Christmas live in a ‘fantasy land’.

The article opens with the journalist plucking a figure out of the air as to what Rafa would receive for transfers if the takeover wasn’t completed. He then lazily makes reference to outdated £400m valuations from Mike Ashley back in June, the quickly rubbished £500m transfer kitty to spend and denial that Amanda Staveley met Rafa, Charnley, Bishop and Barnes after the Liverpool match in the boardroom, which was described by George Caulkin as ‘positive’.  On top of this the writer goes on to say ‘Full, detailed due diligence can take anything up to two months.’ yet using this timescale the club would be sold before Christmas considering the latest party to enter due diligence was reported to be PCP on the 19th October.

Anyway, it’s good to get that off my chest.

Before Bournemouth, I chatted at length with mates about the Newcastle United takeover. One of them had taken some time to look into Amanda Staveley’s privileged upbringing and her likely political persuasion, as a reason why he personally would find it difficult to get excited about the takeover. He also made reference to Man City and the fact that even with the fantastic football they were playing, empty seats could still be seen at home games, that success would feel ‘empty’ if bought.

I replied ‘Mate, apart from Leicester, which team hasn’t bought the Premier League?’ Even Shepherd and Hall had big ambitions investing the club’s money heavily in the best players possible to try and achieve the ultimate dream of winning a trophy for our great club, that’s football at the highest level and to compete you’ve got to have huge financial clout. But not just money alone, a plan, a vision and a world class manager.

After a decade of Mike Ashley running the club on a relative shoestring, resulting in two relegations amongst other calamitous mistakes, it’s fair to say I’m excited as most fans that we will likely get an owner who wants to back Rafa with funds that will have us competing at the right end of the table. Dare I say it, I may even see Newcastle win something in my lifetime!

Before I go any further I must stress I do not know anything that hasn’t already been published or out in the public domain. I have no inside scoop and neither does anyone else. We are in a period where interested parties have signed non disclosure agreements (NDAs) which basically means confidential information shared between two or more parties during due diligence cannot be shared even with third parties. This began for Staveley and her PCP group on the 19th October.

Timeline

12 June  – News breaks of Chinese interest via intermediaries, reported by multiple sources with a £400m valuation rumoured to be Ashley’s asking price – Newcastle, unlike previously, did not refute these reports.

13 August – Ashley announces he was willing to sell the club if the right investor came along, announcing: ‘’If somebody would like come along and take this seat and fund Newcastle with a nought on the end with their wealth more than me, I will not stand in Newcastle United’s way.”

23 September – Ashley lowers asking price, as reported by the Times. It was also reported in the article that ‘’several potential buyers have signed non-disclosure agreements in recent weeks’.

30 September – The Chronicle reveal interested parties have signed non-disclosure agreements.

2 October – Amanda Staveley is spotted in the directors box at the Liverpool game.

3 October – George Caulkin reveals Amanda Staveley met with Justin Barnes, Lee Charnley and Keith Bishop in the boardroom following the Liverpool game. Chronicle reveals that contact details were passed between the two parties.

16 October – Sky Sports live interview with Ashley’s lawyer is released stating interested parties would be allowed to stagger payments in order to allow more funds to spend in January and summer transfer windows. Also stated ‘‘there is a real genuine desire from our point of view to make sure that the club is put in the best possible place going forward and if that means additional funds being available in the short term, then we would seek to accommodate that’’.

18 October – An international news agency – a provider of financial market data – reports Amanda Staveley has valued the club at $400 million (£304 million) with another £150 million to spend over the next two years.

19 October – Sky Sports reports Staveley and PCP sign non-disclosure agreement with Newcastle.

30 October – Chronicle claim that Staveley is now the ‘front runner’ with Chinese investment waning.

There has been a little sub-plot to all of this from Anfield after this article on the 26 October from the National revealed PCP’s failed bid for the Merseyside club. It is a very interesting read if you have not had a chance to read it yet, then I would certainly recommend it.

It talks about the economic miracle in football, the Manchester City takeover by Sheik Mansour in 2008 and how Staveley would look to replicate that model of success now with Newcastle after her failed second attempt to buy Liverpool.  This article prompted Liverpool’s top brass to make a statement in denial of the bid the same day, amidst growing fan unrest at the way the club was being run – the first statement in four years! It did not stop there though.

Next to be rolled out was Liverpool’s former Managing Director, Christian Purslow, during a Sky Sports interview at the end of October.

The interview talked a lot about how difficult a takeover of a football club is – and that in his opinion ‘selling Newcastle in the next six weeks was extraordinarily unlikely.’ The general theme of the interview was a negative one. He goes on to say, to be an established Premier League club, you have to be run by a ‘billionaire or a sovereign state’, adding ‘I’m not sure there are many of them out there’. Eh.. well there is one though isn’t there mate.

If you doubt the pressure growing regarding the way Liverpool are being run and that there is real storm of fan unrest brewing, just type ‘FSG Out’ into Twitter. The timing was strange, the fact another Liverpool director within a few days had spoken in public after years of silence just didn’t add up.

Mr Purslow would have done himself a favour to look at the sale of Manchester City in 2008, which Staveley brokered, to notice the due diligence period took 23 days in January. Interestingly, a fee was agreed and Robinho was signed for £32.5 million before due diligence had even started!

With this in mind, I would not write off players we are strongly linked as being purely speculation based on the sale not officially being announced yet. Maybe it is just me but after Rafa met with Charnley in London to discuss transfers; his mood seemed to have changed. He talked in an interview about ‘only looking at good players’. It was a big change from the candid interviews last summer where his frustration was clear for all to see, admitting himself that he was not happy.

There is still time for Ashley to mess this up! Yes, but he knows better than anyone to not sell at this time could quite easily see Rafa leave, Newcastle drop into danger, along with his chances of achieving anything close to the £380 million he is rumoured to want. Nor does he want to invest any further in the club. The longer the takeover is drawn out, the weaker Ashley’s hand becomes in negotiations over valuation.

New owners know the importance of Rafa staying at the club, the need to build on the good start and cash in on the positive atmosphere around the club which Staveley has witnessed first hand. There is a clear will to get this done on both sides which fills me with optimism that any difference in valuation can be resolved if they haven’t already.

PCP are 22 days into due diligence and it’s most certainly a case of no news is good news at this stage. Exciting times are ahead and we are NOT living in ‘fantasy land’ to believe that.

You can follow the author on Twitter @Dan Snowden

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  • Gallowgate1982

    for me the biggest stumbling block will be the HMRC investigation. Full diligence on the books cannot be done until the HMRC return the paperwork and digital records they took when they raided the club. I do feel though that aside that a deal is very close and i will remain ever the optimist on that score… Your article is a good positive one for a change. The whingers on here will soon shoot you down though. The biggest worry I have is that the people who buy the club do not fully and heavily invest straight away in the 1st team and then the so called fans will turn on them in a matter of days. They will have their “SYB (Skinny Yorkshire ba*tard) out” signs out in no time!!

    • Dan

      Yeah you could be right about the investigation. I wasn’t sure what impact it would have with it involving historical players and if the charges would be made against individuals involved or the club. I wasn’t sure on that so didn’t add it in.

      Yes I know I’ll get shot down by some, just putting what we know out there and why I think it’s not fantasy talk to get it done before jan given both parties want to get it done.

      Should have also added the context that this is the first time Ashley has had genuine interest and potential buyer before.

      • Gallowgate1982

        As above on the reply to GeordieGiants, mate that’s the impact it could have. As for the article it makes a change its positive and about NUFC rather than negative and about something Paul Merson Says.

    • TheNutJob

      Newcastle`s, or should i say Fattys accountants will have copies of everything, we live in the digital age, not the stoneage

      • Geordiegiants

        I would imagine it will be down to the individual/s that created the accounts, if they can pin it on them.

        • Gallowgate1982

          The problem with individuals is it will still leave a financial liability to the business if there is VAT to be paid. Because of the vast sums involved in transfers and agents fees etc the sum of VAT due could be a significant amount of money. This means that any prospective purchaser will want to know what that liability would be before agreeing to purchase the business. The Individual may be prosecuted for fraud but the VAT liability will reside with the business.

      • Gallowgate1982

        I can’t remember going to a garage and getting a digital receipt for my fuel and HMRC would have taken all copies of what they were after for reconciliation purposes. You would be surprised at the amount of businesses out there who still do not store their information digitally. I can’t understand why you think they would leave copies behind when carrying out a VAT fraud investigation???

  • Coble’s Return

    Really good, enjoyable read. The timing of a takeover is a small consideration in comparison to getting the right owner for the club and getting the sale completed. Clearly, if it doesn’t happen within the next two / three months, then we at the mercy of Ashley when it comes to the next transfer window. I remain positive and hopeful though that new owners will be looking at Newcastle United as a very long term project. They will not be dissuaded by poor investment in January, or a squad which needs improvement, or even the continuing HMRC investigation. The title is absolutely right – no news is good news and we should be encouraged that potential investors are taking their time to fully understand the business side of the club. With luck, they will also invest their time and effort into understanding the culture of the club.

    • Dan

      Regarding your last point about investing in the culture. Certainly similar investors (sheike Mansour) certainly seems to have understood and profected the clubs culture and values.

  • Leazes Ender

    Amanda Staveley, She was one of Prince Andrews concubines. Moves in those sort of off-shore avoidance circles, and a friend of omnipotent feudal anti democratic Sheiks (princes).

    …. a step up from Ashley.

    • TheNutJob

      He he he

    • Dan

      What’s to say the next billionaire to buy the club is any better. There’s be attempts from fans and local businesses to buy Newcastle for years and it hasn’t happened.

    • Wor Lass

      I have it on good authority that she regularly projectile-vomits the full length of the Aga Khan`s yacht after seven pints of Chateau Lafite 1865.

  • Return of the Mack

    He won’t sell. Another load of Ashley waffle. It’s taken the pressure off and will over January.

    Bought for 134m, 70-100m in debt. So let’s say 230m. Sell for 300m, gives 70m profit. 7m a year.

    Doesn’t add up. He’ll make more than that from sky money alone this season. Other parties such as amazon will be bidding soon, increasing tv money further.

    Free advertising all over the stadium. This alone would cost much more than 7m a year.

    Not a chance he will sell.

    • Geordiegiants

      He has made millions and millions on top of that with advertising / share prices increasing, selling the land, replica strips being out sourced etc etc etc.
      He has well and truly drained this club for a lot more than any of us think.

    • Coble’s Return

      He will sell. The Sky money, the advertising and everything else only stacks up if the clubs stays in the PL. He won’t invest in the squad, Rafa will eventually walk and we will go down – not being dramatic here, it has happened twice already. I just can’t see us coming back up again as we have done in the past. If that happens, Ashley has lost his investment, his income and his global billboard.

      • Dan

        Like you say, the time is now for Ashley to sell and he knows it for all the reasons you mention above plus maximum league position for minimal invested. We all know that’s the time to cash in.

    • Toonrobbybobson

      Its a massive risk now if he doesnt. He knows this is his strongest hand. If he doesnt not and they get relegated he has to bankroll it again and not sure he will. It would be utter turmoil if Rafa left or relegation (both hand in hand). He would be stuck with an investment hes ploughed loads into and is worthless. He knows he cant compete.

  • Rich Lawson

    You look at the books with an expert,doesn’t take long,some highly paid professionals may try to pad out their hourly rate but if you have the money and are interested you can do the sums pretty quick (months rather than years)

  • Monkseaton Magpies

    Reconcile all the bank accounts and make sure all debtors and creditors are genuine and the rest falls into place. Should take no longer than a month at most.
    As for the case with H.M.R.C. as we were the party paying out the money to agents and players I find it hard to believe any wrong doing and any mistakes will be small beer. If the takeover is going ahead should be early December as with more than one interested party the bidding will start shortly. For me it’s between two parties not four or five.

  • Steve Pearce

    Just my thinking exactly – but there remains the small matter of who will actually run the club on a day to day basis, who will be on the board and will there be a much needed fan’s representative in place. The Fat Stinking Bag Of Southern Pus is on his way out and expect all bars in Newcastle to be drunk dry when the deal is done and the new owner is in place!

    • Down Under Mag

      I actually think any new owners would seriously consider getting Shearer back in some capacity, even if it is just as a club ambassador. It’s an easy way to get the fans immediately back on board and garners a little international reputation. But for the day to day running of th eclub I suspect there will be professional people installed, owners with any sense will not entrust their fortunes to ex-players who have no financial sensibilities.

      • Steve Pearce

        Yes – but I would like and indeed expect some of them to be from our region and fans of our club. I wouldn’t say Shearer has no financial sensibilities as he runs and directs his own charitable institution but he would be best placed as fan’s representative and our ambassador at the very least.

        • Down Under Mag

          I get what you are saying but I suspect Shearer won’t be dealing the finances behind the scenes… There will be a need/desire to have financial institution people brought in and those will be from the new owners…there will be the normal club representatives who then bridge the gap to the fans but I don’t think they will be in charge of day-to-day running of the club. That will be left to people who the new owners appoint and trust which won’t be an ex-footballer…at least I would be very surprised.

      • Wor Lass

        The fans are already back on board, mate – thanks to Rafa. The problem new owners will have will be finding enough seats in the stadium and I think fatty has already kiboshed that possibility. I agree about Shearer – he`s THE iconoic figure any new outfit would want giving them the seal of approval.

  • Toonrobbybobson

    Duedil started at the beginning of the year. The club was putting together al the plans and details so it could all be ready (bulk of it) for interested parties so things could move fast. Ashley wanted out and this has been in motion for way longer than a few weeks. Ashley wants a quick sale so hes put in place measures to make sure there are no holdups and that means the duedil not starting from day 1.

    Quite frankly the takeover can happen whenever. The biggest issue will be the HMRC investigation.

    • Wor Lass

      Surely the due diligence that takes the time is what the prospective buyers do. With Ashley`s empire of smoke and mirrors, not to mention – as you say – an HMRC investigation rumbling along in the background, it could take quite a while to unravel everything. I really hope Dan`s right, though.

      • Toonrobbybobson

        Yes and no. They ultimately will all want common financial data and statistics on the company that is the club. Much of that work can be pulled together in advance to help speed things up.

        With PCP/Staveley they will already have financial models and knowledge from dealing with City and trying to buy Liverpool. So they aren’t effectively starting from scratch at their end as well.

        I honestly don’t think it takes long to unravel the business/financials its the HMRC stuff, the unknowns that will cause the problems as any interested parties will have to carry out their own legal risk assessments which will be reflective in any terms and conditions of a purchase.

        Been through a similar experience selling before but this is a completely different level. However a football club is a football club and by the books I think NUFC will likely be a straight forward one as they have cut costs so much. Yes Ashley is owed money by his loans and lack of SD advertising income but that doesnt make the books complicated. Its just an annoyance but any buyer will see that plugging in a real sponsor would bring in greater revenues so its also an opportunity.

        • Wor Lass

          Seems like a good case – hope you`re right!

          • Dan

            Regarding the HMRC case – PCP will seak indemnity insurance for any potential future damage s resulting from it.

  • Mike

    gone very quiet …………

  • Wor Lass

    Good stuff, Dan. I wish we could have more of this – proper journalism.

  • Down Under Mag

    It’s all been a bit quiet and while I wish for the takeover to happen as quickly as possible, as with everything under Ashley i’ll believe it only when it is signed sealed and delivered and he is out the door and Rafa gets money to spend in January.

    To be fair I think if we can keep in the hunt until Jan and then get some investment we could easily squeeze into a European spot and that gives Rafa a huge card to play when rebuilding in the summer…but there’s a lot of things need to happen before I will be convinced this isn’t just another Ashley PR campaign designed to remove pressure on him to invest.

  • Mrkgw

    If Ashley sells, I reckon he will go straight out and buy Rangers as his next investment and toy.

  • Thefootballerwhocouldfly

    Not gonna happen…. so hope I’m wrong!