Newcastle United Takeover – Best thing you will read today on insight and issues it raises
There is never a dull moment at Newcastle United is there?
It looked like being a relaxing weekend that would bring a few smiles to our faces as Sunderland were beaten by Charlton in the play-off final (where have we said that before?) to condemn them to a second season in the third tier of English football. What a sentence that is. Hard to beat right?
Well imagine our surprise when the news broke later on Sunday a that Newcastle United takeover deal had been agreed with HRH Khaled bin Zayed bin Saqr Al Nahyan, of Abu Dhabi, to take over the club for a fee in the region of 350 million quid.
The initial reaction to this was one of shock, followed by jubilation. The Sun’s exclusive was detailed and took previous takeover rumours one step further by confirming that a deal had actually been agreed and that was it – the club was to be sold very soon.
However, within a few hours it suddenly dwelled on us that we had been here before. Quite rightly questions began to be asked, who was Khaled bin Zayed? How rich was he? What have Newcastle United got to say? It was at this point where all became a little less positive, and far more inquisitive, taking up a mindset that we have become accustomed to throughout Ashley’s reign with the painful memories of so called ‘takeovers’ from Staveley and Kenyon still fresh in the mind.
So, after Sunday it was assumed that the next 48 hours would be key – things would either move quickly, or they would be dampened down by those ‘in the know’. In the end, we got both.
There has been more communications from the Bin Zayed Group to Newcastle United fans in the past few days than there has been between the fans and the club in the past year. On the other hand, though, the likes of the Daily Mail and Sky Sports have done their best to dampen down optimism with the news they have received from their sources – who from a Daily Mail perspective have stated that this is not legitimate, meanwhile Sky Sports laughably claimed that Khaled bin Zayed was not related to Manchester City’s owner Sheikh Mansour.
Naturally, this has led us to ask the question, what is going on? Honestly, if you are not giving the answer “I have no fu..ing clue” then you are either completely full of yourself, or you have a different agenda that is probably tied up with wanting as many clicks as possible for the newspaper that you work for.
Perhaps what we can infer though is that because nobody knows anything, and because the club have declined to comment, is that these ‘talks’ are between the Bin Zayed Group and Mike Ashley, rather than the Bin Zayed Group and Newcastle United. It appears that nobody at the club knows what is going on, with the possible exception of Lee Charnley, as well as Justin Barnes, Keith Bishop and a select few lawyers at Shirebrook, nobody knows anything and nothing is getting out from Ashley’s side. On the other hand, sources in the Middle East are somewhat impossible to come by. When they want to tell us something, they will. There is no such thing as beating around the bush.
What has amazed me throughout the past week is the amount of journalists claiming to have knowledge on a subject that before Sunday night, they knew absolutely nothing about. This so called exclusive came as a surprise to everyone… I think Luke Edward was unscrewing the cork on his second bottle of wine when his phone began going bananas. Of course, there are those guys that have said “Oh I knew there have been interested parties talking” and making references to “due diligence” and “data rooms” but they come out with this rubbish every single time there is a takeover rumour.
So for the vast majority of them, especially those at Sky Sports, they must understand that NUFC fans have reached the stage of the boy who cried wolf. We are somewhat immune to the phrase ‘Sky Sources understand’.
If there is one journalist out there who has remained on point so far then once again George Caulkin is that guy. While his articles remain neutral, I would urge you all to have a look at his twitter feed for honest, up to date and reliable information. In fact, that last one might not be true because George has admitted he is in the same boat as the rest of us for the most part. It is refreshing to hear a journalist say ‘I don’t really know what is going on but I am trying my best to find out’ rather than rubbish from most of the rest who talk about vague sources and put out articles claiming to be somehow in the know on a topic that before Sunday they knew absolutely nothing about.
Likewise, I have worked closely this week with Nick Harris from Sporting Intelligence in explaining just where Khaled bin Zayed lies within the Abu Dhabi family. It/he (Nick Harris) has been a pleasure.
If there is one thing that perhaps everybody knows though, it is that none of this makes any sense at all. While I admit that the timing of an end of season takeover and the silence re Rafa’s contract does have some element of logic behind it, the questions that remain unanswered right now are too big to ignore.
Why has there been stone cold silence from Newcastle United?
Nothing from Mike Ashley?
Why are the claims made by the Bin Zayed Group contrary to the comments of the PL, or the silence from Newcastle United?
Where did the leak come from that led to The Sun exclusive?
Why have the Bin Zayed Group been so strong in pushing out their own statements?
There is a plethora of questions out there, and many will have their own answers, some based on experience, some based on guesswork, perhaps some based on wild conspiracy theories – but the truth is that nobody really knows.
The only two people who know what is going on are Mike Ashley and those at the top of the Bin Zayed Group (HRH himself & Midhat Kidwai). I am happy to admit that since Monday, I have been in direct contact with Midhat Kidwai via WhatsApp, although I have received no information from him that is different to any of the official statements made by the Bin Zayed Group.
I will write up a separate article on who exactly Khaled bin Zayed is as this is an area that happens to be my only field of expertise. Again though I come back to my big grudge right now…and that is journalists who seem insistent on talking about things they know absolutely nothing about. There is one article in one newspaper which features a guest column from a guy who rambles on for God knows how many words, giving zero new information, just because he happens to live in that country. Amazing really.
I plead on everyone involved to stop claiming that they are in the know when they are not.
One of the reasons I have so much respect for guys like George Caulkin is that they only state things when they have actual information to give. Even when he does speak on this subject at the moment, he openly admits that he doesn’t really know what is going on but is trying his best in the meantime to find out.
Anyway, a last bit on my own gut feeling on what do I think will happen? I was interviewed live on Sky News the other night by Kay Burley, who was keen to get my take on how Newcastle fans felt about this, and the source of the money.
Now I don’t speak for anyone but myself, but I like to think that we don’t really care if it is an Arab, an American, a European or a fu..ing Martian. All we want is for Mike Ashley to sell Newcastle United so that we can start rebuilding this football club again.
My gut feeling is that there won’t be a sale. However, because of the stance of the Bin Zayed Group and the way they have played this out in public, I think that we will see a final chapter to this saga which ends in us fans (who are the most important people at the centre of this), finally getting some answers after years of nothing (see Kenyon/Staveley).
The one thing that is being left behind in all of this narrative is Rafa Benitez. Based on the silence from the club, and the fact that his contract situation remains no clearer, I strongly believe that unless a takeover is completed, Rafa Benitez will not be the manager of Newcastle United next season.
The silence from the club remains deafening and I fear for Mike Ashley (not really) that he is slowly digging himself a hole that even he cannot get out of.
You can follow the author on Twitter @JonathanComyn
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