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Opinion

Clear conditions in place for Newcastle United takeover IF the intent is there

9 months ago
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A Newcastle United takeover is back on the agenda.

It is less than 72 hours since The Wall Street Journal launched this latest blockbuster but it yet again makes you feel like you have aged another 10 years in only a matter of days.

An absolute avalanche of media coverage since the original story broke, proving as always that Newcastle United are no ordinary club when it comes to outside interest.

As always, separating any truth from total invention in most of these media reports, is all but impossible.

So what do we know?

Well, I think it is worth looking at the underlying facts we do know, which could support the idea that NUFC has been readied for a sale at last. Although I do also accept that people might point out that many of these factors are just further evidence of the stupidity/chaos in which Mike Ashley runs Newcastle United and/or attempts to do things on the cheap.

Contracts:

In total, 16 of Newcastle’s current 26 man first team squad have contracts with 16 months or less to run.

At his very first pre-match press conference before the Arsenal game, on 9 August 2019 Steve Bruce said that a host of key players would shortly be sorted with new enhanced/longer contracts.

We are now 172 days later and only Martin Dubravka has signed a new deal, which even Mike Ashley would have accepted had to be done. Keeping your best player on one of the lowest wages, would have been sheer stupidity, leading to potential drop in form and/or looking to leave ASAP.

It makes no sense to not be tying any number of players down to new deals, unless of course the idea is to make the contract/wages situation as attractive as possible to a buyer. Inheriting as few financial commitments as possible are attractive to a buyer, particularly when it comes to wages, which are the biggest cost for any club this season.

Commercial deals:

The FUN88 shirt sponsorship ends at the end of this (2019/20) season, with no news so far of any deal for next season. Needless to say, it would be a big positive for any new owner, if they can be in control of deciding/arranging who is shirt sponsor for next season.

Similarly, sleeve sponsor StormGain sees their deal end this summer and no news of what will happen for next season.

Another big one is the Puma kit deal, that also ends this summer, so also a big benefit for a new owner if they can do this deal themselves.

Signings:

Of the seven signings made for this season, four (Carroll, Willems, Bentaleb, Lazaro) of them have contracts that end in June 2020.

No future commitment (beyond this season) on wages and no series of signings where they will be paid off over a period of time.

There has even been widespread confirmation in the media that even Joelinton’s full £40m (or whatever it was in reality…) was paid up front.

Points:

Obviously not a factor that you can directly dictate but the simple fact is, that no matter how much luck has been involved, Newcastle have 30 points after 24 games and are seven clear of the relegation zone.

Beat Norwich on Saturday and I think at least certainly most neutrals would think Newcastle are looking well on their way to safety.

When Newcastle have been deep in relegation trouble at the midway point of the past two seasons, it has made zero sense that anybody would choose to be trying to buy a club that could half in value within months. You could even see the reasoning for these talks dragging on without a conclusion on a takeover, as possibly a case of simply waiting for sure signs of NUFC being a Premier League club next season.

Steve Bruce and his coaching team:

You would imagine that if a major takeover did happen, then the intention would be to upgrade on manager/head coach.

Bruce will be on minimal money compared to Rafa Benitez was on, or indeed what any new higher quality manager would have expected last summer.

Paying off Steve Bruce and his small coaching team will be no hindrance to any Newcastle United takeover.

10,000 free season tickets:

One spin you could also put on the free season ticket handout (rather than simply to protect the value of Ashley’s advertising inside SJP), is that it was another way of presenting the club in the best way to a buyer.

Having at times less than 40,000 people inside St James Park for a Premier League game isn’t a great look if you are genuinely trying to sell NUFC.

Lee Charnley:

The same with off the pitch management.

Newcastle United are run in such a way that he relies on his inner circle of long-term Sports Direct people, particularly Justin Barnes, to look after his Newcastle United interests.

There is no proper substantial high level (and highly paid…) business team running the club.

Charnley is on a pittance compared to other Premier League CEOs/MDs so paying him off will be small change.

None of us are counting our chickens of course, we all know/fear that regardless of these factors above and the media coverage of these past few days, the most likely scenario is that Newcastle United will continue to be run with no ambition and plenty of stupidity by Mike Ashley, simply there to benefit himself and his retail empire.

Just maybe though, just maybe.

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