It’s beginning to look a lot like stalemate on the Newcastle takeover.

Mike Ashley wants more money, Amanda Staveley wants to pay less, and the club is heading straight for the rocks.

My yuletide message of festive cheer is as follows: I urge all true fans to celebrate like the old Bender Squad on a Friday mission to oblivion (younger readers: this was back in the days of Peter Kelly and John Burridge) on each and every occasion the Toon crashes to defeat this season (which will be most of the time).

Yes, in my judgement, which as is well known is far from infallible, we stand a better chance of a brighter future if we go down one more time.

Amanda is, like all businessfolk, a gambler. Mike loves a flutter so much he has a job that requires him to back his intuition with money all the time, but the selfish oaf also sprays his dosh around casinos and betting companies in his spare time as well.

The thing is, I think Mike has made a gamble this season that has already gone wrong. He guessed that we would have a struggle against relegation but would survive. But if we believe what is written in the Financial Times, Amanda’s team has looked at our results in the last eight games and decided that the Toon has a sixty five per cent chance of going down.

In consequence, Amanda is not inclined to ask Mike for a chunk of cash back in the event we are indeed relegated. No, she thinks the presumption should be the other way around, and Mike should have to ask her for a bit more money if we manage to stay up.

Of itself, I don’t see this as an insuperable snag. It is just a relatively minor issue of who should get the use of tens of millions of pounds in the few months in which the club’s fortunes are being decided.

But it suggests Mike is being characteristically stubborn, and illuminates what I think is a bigger problem, which is exactly how much the club is really worth. Amanda clearly doesn’t think Mike’s valuation is correct. She seems to think Newcastle should be priced south of £300m if it’s in the Premier League. Mike thinks the correct amount is a hundred million more.

That is a difference from Amanda’s point of view of around thirty per cent. That is a hell of a difference.

Mike would think of coming down to her price level only, I reckon, if we were relegated. But he is gambling that we stay up. He thinks Rafa can pull it off, because, as I have observed before, he doesn’t really think there is much difference between a cheap footballer and a cheaper one. He can see that expensive footballers are better, but he would never buy one of those. He knows he has a good manager, and believes that will make the difference.

But I don’t think Amanda is going to pay him what he requires if we defy gravity and contrive to stay up. Remember – she walked away from Liverpool, and Liverpool had its own ground, a stellar cast of players, and a proper infrastructure. At Newcastle, we have none of those things. The wretched club is a shell, needing massive investment.

At the end of this season someone might pay him the £400m he thinks his tenure has made appropriate and we are still in the Premier League. But, if they don’t, Mike is on the TV gravy train one more season. He will gamble on staying up all over again. As I say, I think this perennial gamble has gone wrong for him already, but a near-death experience this season won’t stop him thinking it will all go right next year.

It’s possible that, as time goes on, the pressure will get to Mike. He may fold. He may think it is not worth the candle. He may indeed take the money and run. This may indeed be the basis of Amanda’s own gamble.

But it is not just bloody-mindedness that is stopping Amanda upping her offer, I don’t think. She knows that Newcastle need hundreds of millions of pounds of investment. And another hundred million on the purchase price is not going to help produce the ready funds Rafa needs.

What it comes down to is that Mike is being greedy, and Amanda is not playing his game. It will need relegation to sort Mike out.

Unless he behaves atypically, Mike will trash his own investment, lose our best ever manager, and shut out a deal for a sale that would get him off his bed of nails with dignity. We will sink into the Championship, and this time the vultures will be rewarded. Who knows? Amanda might be one of them.

And it’s what we all should be hoping for.

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  • Leazes Ender

    Ashley is a gambler, he plays Russian roulette, two relegation bullets have sunk into his brain and he thinks he’s getting good at it now.

    Too many people are overjoyed at the thought of losing the ‘hostagetaker’ that they haven’t looked at the rescuer…..Amanda’s personal wealth is £100m…. thats it….

    ……If there is a takeover she’s going to need every penny she can scrape together…… It doesn’t bode well, they aren’t the Mansour’s we were hoping for.

    Where will she or her husband position the club?

    A. 7th to 9th
    B. On the market?


    • Da Ca

      I’d rather have 7th to 9th than 19th or 20th, also Amanda would only be the figurehead I’m sure she can lay hers hands on funds otherwise she wouldn’t offer in the region of 300 million if she had only 100million

      • Leazes Ender

        That’s her own personal wealth…. she’s in Freddy territory here….. yes its up to the pardners… pardner!

        • Waxi

          I think you are spot on Leazes as the cash would have been flashed weeks ago if they were going to invest any part of that 30bn. I don’t think this is going to be nothing like the picture the press had painted with a 500 million transfer fund. I hope i am wrong but something don’t ring true with this takeover for me.

        • Wiz

          Hi Leazes!

          She offered over a billion for Liverpool when representing the same people.

          • Leazes Ender

            Hi Wiz ….That was Saudi money she was negotiating with.

    • TheFatController

      Imaginatively omitting the reality that she heads up a fund of middle and far eastern businessmen.

      Financial publications quite her portfolio being around £30bn of investment funds.

      Not all of that is for a football club investment of course. But had you mentioned facts, your argument against her would have been severely weakened.

      So keep ignoring facts.

    • Danimal

      ‘On the market’. Interesting. Would that be so bad? Presumably she would have to polish it up a bit to make a profit. If it takes two sales to get us from this mess to something approaching fun, then so be it.

  • Paul Patterson

    First things first Amanda Staveley isn’t the buyer, she’s the broker of the deal only.
    Secondly, if Ashley thinks he’s going to get 400m then he’s an idiot.
    Thirdly and this is VERY important, IF we get relegated the club will NOT be worth anywhere near 300m, more like 150m.

    Weighing these points up, it would be very unwise for Ashley not to sell, but then again he does like to gamble on these things and unfortunately he often wins in the end. Sadly, if the club goes down this season the lucky dice will not be there next season . .

    • Wiz

      The value would, in part, be reckoned by considering how likely it was that a Premiership return was imminent. Also, Mike is owed around £150m, and would not have lent the club that much if he thought that was all it was worth.

      Curiously, if we went down this season, I would still back us to come straight back up. When Mike wants something to happen, it usually does.

      • Michael Ridley

        Apart from the takeover/Ashley,relegation?Do you actually think Rafa will be around ,I doubt it,he’s probably had enough of the shambolic ,management,the fan(s) deserve a decent team ,fingers crossed

        • Wiz

          If Amanda takes over, and we then go down, I would bet (not very confidently) on Benitez staying around one more time. He can see himself leading us out at the San Siro one day.

  • Dillon Tovak

    Ashley is playing a very dangerous game because we are due for relegation and there will not be the drive from the supporters to help the team along again in the championship.
    Not because we are fair weather fans, but because why would we yearn desperately for the PL when we’ve seen the support Ashley actually gives us when we’re there.
    It’ll be a fair few years until we’re back.

    • GToon

      Yep. Once bitten, twice shy. Three times bitten, totally fed up.

  • robbersdog

    Yes, in my judgement, which as is well known is far from infallible, we stand a better chance of a brighter future if we go down one more time.

    Oh do shut up!

    • Wiz

      I take your point.

  • Albert Stubbins

    Great article. Fat Mike is a gambler but on his own terms. He’s not an addict. He has that much money he is also greedy. Whether he sticks or twists will not be out of a compulsion to gamble. It will be a calculated decision on what he considers can realistically expect to make him the most money. Expect this brinkmanship with stately to go right to the wire in terms of relegation or survival imo. Ps. Have you a brother called Pal?

  • TheFatController

    Why would they have had to calculate the probability of relegation being 65% I wonder….?

    You only find a statistical likelihood for something when there is conjecture over it.

    So I conclude they needed to calculate it because Ashley refuses to entertain any discussion of relegation being likely.

    So yes, I agree with you. Ashley honestly believes we won’t be relegated. So PCP have has to have the likelihood statistically analysed to enlighten his deluded brain.

    • Arty Hume

      Thats the problem in a nutshell, he does not know anything about football and it is obvious he takes no notice of his advisors either or they would fear what we fans do and that is another drop. However I think he may well come unstuck this time, and the club would plummet in value, £100m maybe, and if PCP are into gambling and Rafa stays, ( big if’s ) the infrastructure is there for tremendous expansion. Cannot remember but is that not what happened at Man City??? Or were they in the EPL when they were bought out?

      • TheFatController

        City has the stadium, PL status yes.

        Mansour has invested £1.4bn in players, training facilities, scouting and youth development, stadium expansion and a professionally elite commercial team.

        So he laid £265m, Investec £1.4bn, last share sale late 2015 valued it at £2.1bn.

        Proof that the more you put in, the more you get back. Ashley has his club up for sale, he has one bid of £250m. Read onto that what you will of his skill in building on a club’s potential …

        • Arty Hume

          Indeed mate, two different ends to the spectrum. Shows who the real business people are. Hopefully we can get a share of that soon. I would love this to blow up in his face, but it would take us with it, its damage limitation for us now I think. :(

        • GToon

          Spot on. Been there with my son to play their academy. It’s pretty amazing. That same level of investment with us would see us win everything and become the biggest club in Europe. Just need an owner with similar beliefs instead of big pockets and short arms.

    • babeandbp

      I would go as far as to say that, in relation to Amanda/PCP’s interest, absolutely everything we’ve heard, read or discussed is nothing other than conjecture. Ms Staveley is way too clever to allow things to be ‘leaked’. Rest assured that anything ‘leaked’ from her side, has been done so intentionally. The only thing that us fans and media pundits know for absolute certain is that either she or her doppelganger was at St James’ Park a few weeks ago to watch a match. Everything else, no matter how good the apparent source may have been in the past, is pure speculation.

      • Wiz

        It’s been officially confirmed that Mike and Amanda are in confidential negotiations. The FT know when something is going on.

    • Wiz

      The other explanation might be insurance. Actually, that might be encouraging. If Amanda is looking into insuring against relegation she must be thinking she would be prepared to preside over relegation and a promotion fight next season.

  • mactoon

    “we stand a better chance of a brighter future if we go down one more time.”

    Sorry that is absolute nonsense.

    1. Staveley is in the market for a Premiership club. She would not spend money on a Championship club.
    2. Neither will Ashley (he won’t put anymore money into the club) and he will want to sell the high earners to trim the wage bill.
    3. With the players we have left we will sink like a stone.

  • babeandbp

    In odds (as opposed to percentage) terms, Amanda’s team have calculated that the odds AGAINST Newcastle staying up are a mere 1.86/1. I personally think that they’re even less than that. She’s being incredibly generous in my view. If what we read is to be believed, this is turning into one hell of a poker game, but with those eyes, I know who my money would be on :)

  • Bb

    Mike Ashley has paid off hundreds of millions of debt and you expect him to sell for peanuts? Idiots.

    • GToon

      Are you serious? Paid off what exactly. That “loan” is part of the price he is asking for the club. The outlay + the loan + a bit more = his value of the club.

    • TheFatController

      I think you’re unaware of a very well known fact on your financial investments

      ‘The value of your investment may go down as well as up…’

      His investment has gone down. Get over it.

      Merry Christmas !

    • Vito Genovese

      Whilst saving millions on advertising and investing an average net spend of less than a million per season.
      Depending on which Bs media you read 250-380m is hardly peanuts.
      If ashley had backed the manager properly in the summer to buy team players instead of squad players he would be in a far greater bargaining position.

    • Leazes Ender

      The club had zero debt when he took over…. it did have a long term repayment for the new build to Cameron Hall Developments (Gibraltar) who acted as a bank…..

      …as you say the mortgage was paid off and the clubs value is now increased by the sum of the Stadium.

      Mike relegated the club twice to try to encourage a new owner…. this is the third attempt.

    • Contisertoli

      Haha. WUM

  • GToon

    The biggest worry for me is that it won’t hurt Ashley half as much as we think if the club get relegated. The extra tv money would cushion any relegation and once again the chances are high that we would come straight back up. So what’s the risk to him. After all we need to remember the one thing that binds us all together, the one thing that has us living the highest highs and the lowest lows – we support this club. Ashley doesn’t so what does he really care?

    • nufcslf

      Fair enough, but will even the most loyal toon fan buy into his rotten product forever. Another relegation and there is no chance of a third straight bounce back with him in charge, not going to happen. I for one will completely wash my hands of everything Shyte Direct United and a bit like him wouldn’t care if it completely went out business.

  • 1957

    I doubt the pressure will get to Ashley, he will happily gamble on staying up and getting a better price in the summer if Staveley and her group don’t up their offer. If we go down he will give it another go on first time promotion and look to sell then. It’s all a game for Mike and I think he enjoys the drama.

    • Wiz

      Did you see the news yesterday about the current performance of Sports Direct? The group indebtedness is up by a factor of ten, and the profits have declined alarmingly. The fact is Mike needs to sell because if he doesn’t he will have to invest, and he can’t afford it.

      • Geordiegiants

        Also DW are back up and running opening new stores.

        • Wiz

          The old retailing model is well past it. But Ashley goes against the prevailing wisdom, buying clapped out chains and brands. He understands the digital retail model and has made a success of it on the continent. But people in the UK aren’t going to a shop in town to buy a cheap pair of trainers any more. At the same time he is being forced to treat his workers better, and he has a big investment in Newcastle that he either sells for not very much or doesn’t sell at all.

          The more I think about it, the more I think Amanda may have got the better of him on this deal, but Mike will just refuse to acknowledge reality and will keep on backing his losing hand.

      • gallowgate26

        Ashley will be a bankrupt, disqualified director in 5 years time, begging on the street corner. Most of his £2billion is SD shares, not cash in the bank. We’ll be in League 1 with Sunderland . The administrator will sell Ashley’s houses, properties and assets to pay the creditors of SD and NUFC. I’m telling you, he’ll be on a street corner with a begging bowl. How has the man been so successful? He’s an idiot, listen to him talk, he’s a barrow boy, sounds thick as anything. Clueless. Gambler.

  • Unless we get 3 proper Premier League players I don’t see us surviving another year in the Prem. Rafa is clearly trying out anything he can think of, but you can’t make a fire out of wet wood. On top of all our issues we have a keeper problem as well and this cost us the last two games. Darlow is much better than Elliot in handling crosses, but hasn’t got the confidence to keep up performance.
    Elliot is rock-solid as a shot stopper, but poor 1:1 and terrible handling crosses.
    We should have had the keeper situation sorted in the summer at least.
    We still require – A REAL LEFT BACK and competition for the Right-Back.
    Another holding midfielder and ball-playing one. At least one more winger, a proper n. 10 and a better striker than Joselu and Mitrovic.
    That leaves us with a dire need for at least 4 new players in January, which would mean a miinimum of 60m to spend and us selling unreliable players(Diame, Darlow, Mitro, Shelvey)

    • Mark Potter

      Yes, Rafa should have had the keeper situation sorted out. But we had three over-21 keepers on the books at the start of the window and two of them had to go. He managed (only just) to offload Krul at the end of the window. We now know from Darlow himself that he was close to signing for Boro. But didn’t. Was the failure with Boro or Darlow himself? Or did the club pull the plug as they couldn’t get the keeper Rafa wanted signed up that late in the window? I blame all three keepers, all thought they were good enough to be first choice, none of them were. Krul and Darlow especially should have accepted facts and got out. But long term contracts on high wages seems again to have played a part, where players have little incentive to go, as no-one will pay them the same level. Darlow was telling himself, and anyone who cared to listen, that he had done the right thing by not signing for Boro, because his patience had paid off and he now had the chance to prove himself as number 1. He actually proved himself as a Championship keeper. Boro is exactly where he should be.

      • As most of our players are – good Championship Players and some not even that (Colback for instance). I am sick and tired of people supporting Mitro and Shelvey who cannot be relied upon to even start the next bloody game, let alone turn a tide. Failure to get Abraham and Adrian were perhaps most bitter as Adrian alone would have saved us at least 4-5 points by now and Abraham could have made us just as much when Gayle was injured.

  • HappyToons

    Peter Kelly…wasn’t he that blonde full back who was a cross between Alan Kennedy and Stuart Pearce and had some great games, but a bad knee. He would have gone onto be a great player but only managed a few games.

    • Wiz

      Great right back but Bill McGarry played him on the left. His knee would have been properly repaired these days.

  • Toonrobbybobson

    Amanda is right we now arent worth £300m even. Each week the price is coming down. Ashley should have made sure we’d stay in the Prem then sell. Hes done it the wrong way around EVERY time. I actually think hes an idiot for all the money he has made.

  • Contisertoli

    What a miserable me of couple of months. Wish fatso would P—off right quick before PCP decides to move on. Detest MA

  • Son of Wilt

    I get the writer’s frustration, but this is yet another column of ‘if’ ‘maybe’ and ‘could’, without knowing what’s really going on, and apart from adding to the general air of frustration, it seems oblivious to the fact that there are probably only about 20 people in the entire country who know the state of play. Nobody knows how this season will pan out, nobody, but one thing IS for sure, this takeover has to happen, and quickly.

  • magpiefifer

    Yet again Ashley is proven to be useless!
    Rafa needed backing during the Summer to give us a chance of staying up,but,as usual,Ashley knew better,gambled and kept his hands in his pockets.Now we look like certs for relegation – and what will happen about him selling the club!?
    If he reaches a stalemate with PCP what will we be left with – a Championship club with the same useless owner!!?
    When will this farce end?

  • Andrew

    Lets now ask our manager to back the players he has as we still have a slim chance of getting out of this mess weather Mr Ashley sells or not ( Not I think ). We keep hearing how poor our current team is one way or another from management down to suppoters which must fill them with such confidence each game. United stronger divided defeated. We’re not another Sunderland ( YET )

  • FatParosite

    Fair assessment but I think both parties are waiting for the new TV deal to be announced. It plays a massive part of any take over. Without knowing what the largest part of our turn-over will consist of you can’t develop an entry or exit plan. The final deal if there is one should be ratified after that date unless our position becomes so untenable that Staveley walks away. Bottom by Christmas anyone..??