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Opinion

As Newcastle United takeover hopes disappear – Surely the timing was always suspect?

6 months ago
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Are there any fans out there who still believe a Newcastle United takeover will happen?

More to the point maybe, does anybody really think there was ever any substance at all in the unlikely tale?

Of course we all want to believe it, that Mike Ashley will at last leave.

Especially when you see what it means on the pitch due to his malevolent ongoing presence at St James Park.

I still get to all the home matches and many of the aways but it certainly isn’t anything to do with football, or ‘entertainment’, it is partly duty but mostly the fringe benefits – the pub before and afterwards and seeing friends and family who I otherwise would never see so regularly.

You know what it is like, you have all of the best intentions and when you see these people you have a great laugh/time, but if it wasn’t for the regular home (and to an extent, away) matches that bind/glue you together, how often would you see them?

Put it this way, just how often do you see these people in the summer when there is no football? I rest my case.

Anyway, back to our wonderful owner and the Newcastle United takeover that he declared was imminent on 3 December 2018.

Before we have even had a chance to turn around, the ‘possible’ sale by the end of December 2018 hasn’t happened, we are already into the January transfer window and Rafa has revealed that not a single signing has been set up as yet, with the indication that he is still waiting to see what budget he has, if any.

Meanwhile, Mike Ashley has gone on holiday.

It is well and truly the pantomime season.

The journalists are all sticking together on this one seemingly, the party line being that this time it is different and there is a definite possibility of Newcastle United being sold, the only problem being that none of them appear to know anything.

They all hint at knowing a bit more than they are letting on but surely if somebody knew anything they would be publishing it to get the paper sales and clicks.

It isn’t as though they are generally shy of running with Newcastle United stories that turn out to have zero foundation or truth.

So why would this one be any different?

It goes without saying that I hope I do end up feeling ever so silly when the journalists are all proved to be correct but I’m more than prepared, thank you very much, to be thinking still that this is just more nonsense from Mike Ashley and his people, with the media also happy to be manipulated to a large extent.

When I look at this whole Newcastle United takeover farce/story, the big thing that jumps out at me is the timing.

If you had some characters similar to those that bought Manchester City and PSG, I could maybe believe it could be possible. If you are buying a football club with the intention of money being no object and some massive long-term strategy/reason for owning a club that has nothing to do with eventually intending to make a profit or at least recoup your overall investment, then fair enough.

However, those (Man City, PSG) example are very very rare and most takeovers revolve around business decisions of intending to sell sometime in the future and try to make a profit eventually.

So with that in mind, and any possible Newcastle United takeover appearing to not be a Man City/PSG type one, why on earth would you look to buy a relegation threatened club halfway through a season?

Say you believe the figures and Mike Ashley wants £300m regardless of any timings. It is plain common sense that if somebody was buying Newcastle United in May 2018, their opinion of the value would be far far different to that of eight months later when NUFC are sitting on only 18 points from 20 games, three points above the drop, with such a tough set of fixtures that they are very very likely to be bottom three by the end of January.

If you believe Newcastle were worth £300m at the end of last season as a Premier League club, then if they were a Championship club in four months time (May 2019) they would be worth somewhere around £150m-£200m at the very most.

So as a relegation threatened club with 18 games remaining, NUFC must now be worth less than £300m but more than £150m/£200m.

Everything we know and are told about Mike Ashley, tells us that he doesn’t see things this way, that he won’t take less midway through a season because of risk of relegation, nor will he accept clauses where he would end up gambling on getting some of the sale price based on staying up this season, after he has left.

It was back in September 2018 that we were first told of Peter Kenyon allegedly trying to put together a bid  to buy Newcastle United, with the help of  Rockefeller Capital Management, who take fees in return for helping to provide investors for buyouts of businesses such as this one.

Four months later, the story is still that it is Peter Kenyon and Rockefeller Capital Management, but that they haven’t yet been able to raise enough cash to buy NUFC.

Am I missing something? How on earth are we supposed to believe that a late whip round will suddenly generate enough extra funds to cover the shortfall for a relegation threatened club?

Whatever the journalists/newspapers say, it does feel like we are all having our strings pulled yet again by Mike Ashley.

Just like every transfer these days where middle men are used, any buying and selling of a football club will surely follow a similar route.

If you want to sell your house then there are plenty of estate agents desperate to try and earn a commission by putting you in touch with potential buyers.

This is now the 12th year of Mike Ashley’s ownership and if he seriously wanted to sell the club and wanted to take a fair price, then there would be numerous middle men more than happy to oblige in putting potential buyers in touch.

In April Newcastle United were safe from relegation and if Ashley wanted to sell the club, that was the time to press the button, get the middle men to approach the potential buyers, then get the deal done.

Mike Ashley could have had his money by June or early July at the latest and the new owners would have the time to work with Rafa Benitez in getting the squad in a fit state for the new season, as well as setting in motion investing in all the other parts of the football club (training complex, Academy, St James Park etc) that have been starved of funds these past 12 years.

The whole thing just doesn’t make any sense and sadly we only have another relegation struggle to look forward to with minimal/no investment in the January transfer market.

If Rafa Benitez performs another ‘miracle’ and keeps NUFC in the Premier League, then just maybe we could see Mike Ashley genuinely put the football club up for sale in May.

I won’t be holding my breath on that one either though…
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