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Does Tuesday make sense for Newcastle United takeover announcement?

1 month ago
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It’s close, you can almost feel it, but I’ve got to admit that the Newcastle United takeover story has gone beyond frustrating and is starting to drag on.

I’m sure I’m not alone in hoping that the whole Mike Ashley ownership saga is only hours away from closure.

After all the delay, this could very well be ‘the week’.

So what’s been the hold up so far? Where are we at?

First thing is that a £300million purchase doesn’t just take five minutes to see through. Imagine selling your house. That takes weeks sometimes months in itself and while that is usually a fairly straight forward process, it likely involves mere thousands of pounds rather than hundreds of millions.

Whilst just this week, The Times reported that the Premier League were sifting through a 350 page document submitted by the buyers and this is something that doesn’t just take a couple of days.

Secondly, the powers that be at the Premier league have to ratify the takeover and decide that the buyer/s are fit and proper people from a business point of view. Clearly, the ‘test’ that prospective owners have to pass wasn’t as stringent as it could have been in 2007 when Mike Ashley strode onto the scene. Promising to make the club you’re buying the best it possibly can be, clearly isn’t a requirement of the so called ‘test’.

It’s important to reiterate that the Premier League will only be interested in how ‘fit and proper’ the new owners are with regards to business. They aren’t interested in alleged human rights issues thousands of miles away, sad but true.

If the UK Government and the royal family are happy to cosy up to these people, I’m sure Premier League officials will also be only too happy to oblige. They will have obviously been informed about the TV piracy aspect of things but provided that is no longer ongoing, it won’t be held against them, but it will be a delaying factor to the whole process being concluded and signed off.

Another big factor is, I don’t know if you have noticed, but there’s a bloody pesky virus kicking about the whole of the planet at present, restricting such things as travel and preventing people from their usual movements. Air travel has been scaled back dramatically and as such people can’t turn up in person to meetings and as I’m sure the people involved will want to visit St James Park, the training ground, academy and the city as a whole, this isn’t going to be possible for a few weeks.

Additionally we have Ramadan coming to a close this weekend, yesterday (Saturday) in fact. Not being well versed in the teachings of the Quran (or any other religious text) I can’t say if this should prevent business deals going through. I wouldn’t have thought so, but I can understand if it was to hold things up a tad, even just from a symbolic perspective.

Another aspect to this is one I’ve only recently considered.

On a bike ride through the deserted streets of Newcastle city centre this week, one thing did dawn on me. I was ghosting up St James Boulevard without having to concern myself with the usual traffic, simply because there was next to none about. Normally avoiding getting run over by the numerous cars and buses while navigating wayward pedestrians is a common problem for cyclists in any city, but not on this occasion. Rounding the corner to St James Park was another odd experience. It was the middle of the week and there were only a handful of people kicking about.

It was a very unusual sight and I did think to myself that if it suddenly broke on the news that the takeover had gone through, you’d have hordes of Geordies descending on the holy ground that is St James Park. It was with this thought that it hit me.

It may not be planned as such but it would be very uncomfortable for the announcement to be made while we are in lockdown. Regardless of the rules, Strawberry Place and Barrack Road would be swimming with hundreds of delirious football fans. Do you honestly think people would adhere to social distancing if it was officially announced that Mike Ashley had finally slung his hook? I’m guessing not.

I’ve always seen a Monday as a favourable day for any deal to go public and for nearly a month now I’ve been disappointed. Monday is the start of a working week and more crucially the day stock markets reopen after the weekend close down. I only mention this as it’s highly likely that the Saudi PIF, Amanda Staveley and the Reuben brothers will have other investments that are affected by such trading. Just a thought.

All of the factors I’ve mentioned are very viable reasons for the deal to be dragging on as it has done but (whilst I wouldn’t advise people holding me to this) as we now appear to be in the final stages of this saga, make sure that you get out tomorrow (Bank Holiday Monday) and get your #cans in.

As Tuesday morning could very well be the time to switch on Sky Sports News or whatever source you get your sport fix from and rejoice that Newcastle United has finally been liberated from Mike Ashley.

Here’s hoping…

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