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Why we are not living in ‘fantasy land’ – Timeline to Newcastle United takeover

3 years ago
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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 What I have a problem with is articles based on outdated ‘facts’, lazy assumptions and misinformation.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 He then lazily makes reference to outdated £400m valuations from Mike Ashley back in June, the quickly rubbished £500m transfer kitty to spend and denial that Amanda Staveley met Rafa, Charnley, Bishop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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