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Opinion

Vital factor overlooked in Newcastle Takeover dealings

1 year ago
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The Newcastle Takeover debate has dominated the past week.

Mike Ashley and Amanda Staveley having a very public slanging match as Newcastle fans watched on.

Rafa Benitez emerged on Friday to say that Mike Ashley told him a few weeks ago that no takeover was going to happen this month.

However, I think it is  important to go back a day or two and look at what has been said by both sides.

I think fair to say that nobody is 100% sure on what the exact position is BUT there is another way of looking at what has gone public, which DOES tell us one very important thing.

Mike Ashley (through ‘sources’) told Sky Sports that there were no ongoing discussions and that Amanda Staveley dealings had been a ‘complete waste of time’.

He also said there was no offer for the club currently on the table.

Amanda Staveley responded and unlike Ashley, she was happy to do a proper interview explaining her side of the story.

Speaking to George Caulkin of The Times she made clear there had been three written offers made for the club and that the third of those was still active.

These are the three bids that were revealed in The Time interview:

£300m, first bid, November 2: £200m on completion. £50m July 1 2018, £50m July 1 2019 — neither paid in the event of relegation. Benítez to stay as manager. Penalty clauses in the event of HMRC fine.

£350m, second bid, November 10: £150m on completion. £50m January 1 2020 £50m January 1 2021 £50m January 1 2022 £50m in the event of qualifying for the Champions League. Benítez to stay as manager. Penalty clauses in the event of relegation and HMRC fine.

£250m, third bid, November 17: £250m payable in full. Benítez to stay as manager. No clauses.

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When putting the club up for sale in October, Mike Ashley had made clear that he was willing to take at least some of the payment in instalments, so that aspect can’t be seen as a reason why the first two bids weren’t accepted.

However, the first two offers did include relegation clauses which meant he wasn’t guaranteed the total amounts.

The first offer being a guaranteed £200m plus £100m more if no relegation, though any HMRC fines to be deducted if they materialised.

The second offer being a guaranteed £150m plus £150m more if no relegation, though any HMRC fines to be deducted if they materialised. Plus another £50m if qualifying for Champions League in next few years under the Amanda Staveley bidders.

Third offer, what it says on the tin, £250m with no clauses (the Rafa Benitez one surely not a problem if ambitious new owners arriving).

With the Amanda Staveley bid not going higher than £250m at least for the foreseeable, it then produced other newspaper stories, including what seemed a fairly reliable one from Craig Hope, who covers Newcastle for The Mail and has a decent track record, where he said Ashley’s people had told him that £300m without clauses would be a figure that Mike Ashley could/would accept.

So sifting through all of that, for me the true position appears to be that at this moment in time with Newcastle fighting a relegation battle, Amanda Staveley’s bidders are prepared to pay £250m and Mike Ashley values the club at £300m.

In this smoke and mirrors, a bit like transfer stories, you can’t take anything as being 100% correct but that is the position the rival camps are telling us.

With this position being reached, there appeared to be a bit of a shift in the media and amongst a minority of Newcastle fans. Their take on it being along these lines: if that is Mike Ashley’s price then Amanda Staveley needs to just get on with this, yes she might only value it at £250m at this point but it is Mike Ashley’s house/club and if he says that is the price then just get on and do the deal at £300m – as in the great scheme of things and looking longer-term with ever bigger TV deals etc, this is the chance to buy Newcastle United.

This is the time though for me, when we have to step back and look at the broader picture. not just whether or not Amanda Staveley is/should be buying the club.

If Mike Ashley is saying that Amanda Staveley has been wasting his time, that £250m is an insulting offer, and that Newcastle United at this moment in time is worth £300m of anybody’s money, then why are there not numerous other buyers fighting it out to pick up this bargain?

If three similar houses go up for sale in your street at £140,000, £150,000 and £200,000, the first two quickly sell but the third one is still for sale (10 years later..?), do you blame the prospective buyers for not paying the £200,000???

Or do you think, are the ones wanting £200,000 asking for too much in this market and indeed, are they even serious about wanting to sell their house?

I haven’t got a clue as to whether Amanda Staveley can be trusted but these 11 seasons of Mike Ashley have proved time and again that he can’t, with a constant diet of lies and his PR people using compliant journalists to instead put the blame on fans and various others, rather than the manipulative Sports Direct owner.

Surely the thing we all understand, when buying anything (house, car, lager…), if something is priced to sell then it gets sold, not still up for sale 10 years later.
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