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Opinion

At some point I might just think about the football at Newcastle United

1 year ago
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The prospect of Mike Ashley no longer being the owner of Newcastle United is tantalising.

After ten long years of a regime that has specialised in mediocrity, it could really be about to end. We hope. It’s all about knowing what to believe at the moment. If it come to pass I defy anyone not to run through town like a kid on Christmas morning.

The chances of the takeover happening are a massive distraction, certainly after the reports came through that PCP Capital Partners had lodged an actual bid. It feels a bit weird being a supporter amid all of this speculation, claim and counter claim. Various journalists all with a different narrative.

Does anyone know what is going on? Can there be a deal? Can they offer enough cash to entice Ashley to finally call it a day?

There are sceptics but it does seem that the Sports Direct supremo wants to sell the club after a decade of torment. Ashley is at a fork in the road. He can stay at the helm and keep trying to run NUFC on the cheap, which only gets us so far. The alternative is to accept an offer from PCP and give someone else a crack at making a success of the place. It’s high time for a change.

At the time of writing – and news really could break at any moment – it seems Amanda Staveley has offered Ashley just short of £300 million. That would give him a smallish profit, but he’s rejected the deal. Relegation clauses seemingly not to his liking. If Staveley’s group really has the level of wealth that’s been reported then they should have no bother agreeing a fee to satisfy Ashley’s desire. The ball is back in her court.

How about £300million up front and a further £30million in instalments, with no clauses. The new owner will have to be saddled with any risk of demotion. That would surely be enough to get a deal done. There are claims he wants £350m as a minimum, so they may have to up the offer even more.

Ashley’s total outlay since 2007 is claimed to be £260million, so the asking price being put about would yield him a decent profit, right? Is he being greedy? Yes.

My gut feeling is he’d like to do a deal but he may not budge too far on the asking price. Just like the sale of a house or a car, the opening offers always get rebuffed.

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But does he really want to press on when he said himself he has to ‘compete with countries’, in that now infamous Sky Sports interview over the summer.

The next moves by PCP are likely to be decisive. A better offer will probably come in and then we’ll have a clearer idea if we’re rid of Mike. Let’s face it, there will be despondency if it all falls through. Hopes have been raised among the fans, even the doom-mongers will secretly be on tenterhooks. Any rejection of what the fans see as an excellent deal could even lead to the days of protest coming back, especially if a rejection and withdrawal of the club from sale destabilises Benitez.

And yet do we really know who PCP are? It’s referred to as an investment vehicle for middle eastern financiers but there is no real clarity as to who the money men are. We just see Staveley’s face as the person fronting the whole thing.

The takeover may not transform it overnight. There would still be a lot of work to do even from that point forwards, though fresh investment would be a massive boost for everyone.

We wait. Wait and see what the next twist will be. At some point I might just think about the football.

You can follow the author on Twitter @DavePunton
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