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Opinion

No justification for the no comment from Mike Ashley on Newcastle United Takeover

2 months ago
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The ‘No Comment’ response from Mike Ashley and Newcastle United has become monotonous.

The media repeatedly asking various questions regarding the claimed Newcastle United Takeover, only to be met with a ‘No Comment’ each time on the orders of the NUFC owner.

It has all become a bit of a joke…

So much of a joke in fact that Newcastle fans are now responding on social media to any official club Twitter message with ‘No Comment’ as well.

It isn’t really a joke though where supporters are concerned.

There is a train of thought that just so long as the club is sold by Mike Ashley in the very near future, nobody will look back and be bothered by these days and weeks, potentially months…, of refusing to comment on the potential Newcastle United Takeover.

Yes that is all that really matters, the end result, but it is so unnecessary for Mike Ashley to be taking things to such an extreme.

If this was a football club, or indeed any other business, that was a PLC, Ashley wouldn’t be able to act as he is with Newcastle United.

With a share price that would/could be very volatile depending on information that was/wasn’t in the public domain, Mike Ashley would have no alternative but to allow a public statement to be made to clarify what was happening. It wouldn’t necessarily go into great detail but he would be duty bound to inform the shareholders as to what was happening overall.

There is no legal obligation in Newcastle United’s case but there is a clear moral one (obligation) to inform his ‘customers’ as to what exactly is/isn’t happening.

People talk about NDAs (Non-Disclosure Agreements) as a potential excuse/reason for no public statement from Newcastle United/Ashley but that is big fat red herring.

Usually an NDA is to do with companies making available confidential information, usually regarding financial info, to a potential buyer As in, that info is only for their eyes with regard to their potential purchase, not to be passed on.

An NDA can be used in other ways such as confidentiality on who exactly might be trying to buy the business/club but in this case, it is the Bin Zayed Group who have been happy to make everything public (see statements below), so no reason for Mike Ashley not to comment on them specifically, or in general terms.

No reason whatsoever why the club/Mike Ashley couldn’t have put out something along the lines of…

“With regard to recent media coverage about a potential takeover of Newcastle United, we can confirm that talks have taken place with various parties.

“We can confirm that talks have progressed significantly with one of these parties and we are hopeful that this could progress to a sale of the football club.

“We would like to assure all of our supporters that whatever happens, plans are in place and being worked on now, so that the team and football club will be ready for the challenges of the new season, no matter what the outcome of these talks.

“The club can also confirm that discussions are ongoing with Rafa Benitez, with regard to the manager agreeing a new contract that would enable him to continue his excellent work at St James Park.

“We will bring you a further update as soon as we are able to.”

The statement from Midhat Kidwai on Monday 27 May 2019:

“In response to numerous reports in the world media this morning, we would like to comment as follows.

“We can confirm the representatives of his Highness Sheikh Khaled Bin Zayed Al Nahyan are in discussions with Mike Ashley and his team about the proposed acquisition of Newcastle United Football Club.

“We view it as an honour to have the opportunity to build on the strong support, history and tradition of the club.

“We have agreed terms and are working hard to complete the transaction at the earliest opportunity.

“Best Regards, Midhat Kidwai, Group Managing Director, Bin Zayed Group.”

Statement from Midhat Kidwai – Wednesday 29 May 2019:

“In consideration of the numerous speculations in regards to the timelines of the acquisition of Newcastle United Football Club by Bin Zayed Group, we feel the need to issue this statement.

“Terms have been agreed between us and Mike Ashley; these terms have been reflected in a document, signed by both parties, which has been forwarded to the Premier League.

“The proof of funds statement was forwarded to Mike Ashley’s lawyers on 17 April 2019.

“The so called fit-and-proper Premier League process is a standard procedure which will take time, and we are doing all we can to assist the Premier League during this process.

“We feel the need to clarify this point in order for the fans and the general public to understand the timelines.”

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