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Opinion

Amanda Staveley Mags : Why Newcastle United takeover means so much

4 months ago
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One thing I have learnt being a Newcastle United fan over the twenty plus years supporting the club, is that nothing can be done the easy way.

Growing up watching legends like Alan Shearer, Nobby Solano and Gary Speed, I would never have thought the club would ever be destined for relegation, never mind two.

The relegations, however, boil down to the incompetence towards football from club owner Mike Ashley.

Yes, Ashley may be a good businessman, but when it comes to football, he is seemingly clueless, not helped by surrounding himself and the club with those who show further incompetence: Derek Llambias, Lee Charnley and Tony Jimenez just to name some.

“I came up against a wall of incompetence, deceit and arrogance” Kevin Keegan – My Life in Football (2018)

Kevin Keegan opened up about his return to Newcastle managerial duties under Mike Ashley’s ownership back in 2008, in his 2018 autobiography, but has been vocal on his criticism of Ashley’s regime for a long time before that.

Whilst on pundit duties for ESPN in 2010, Keegan expressed his concerns on how little Ashley knew about football.

“It’s the owners and the people running the club who have lost the trust of the fans and they’ve lost it over a period of three-and-a-half years.”

Yet here we are, ten years later, story still the same.

Since Keegan’s departure from his second stint as Newcastle boss, the club suffered two relegations, the first under the eyes of club legend Alan Shearer, who unfortunately for him. jumped aboard an already sinking ship, controlled by players who were less than interested about the club’s survival, with only a faithful few who would stay at the club upon relegation and help to gain promotion straight away.

The second relegation for me, however, hurt more. Ashley had actually allowed invested in the squad at the start of the season and brought in some promising talent like Gini Wijnaldum, Florian Thauvin and Aleksandar Mitrovic, but showed his true colours of knowing very little about football, by appointing Steve McClaren, proven by the fact it took eight games before Newcastle won a game, two months after the season started.

Somehow McClaren kept the job until March, despite only winning six league games.

Then came the appointment of Rafa Benitez, a world class manager who was repeatedly lied to and promised help with his visions of revolutionising the club. No one expected Benitez to stay after the club suffered its second relegation under Ashley’s ownership, a Champions League winning manger in the Championship did not seem likely. However, Benitez got Newcastle as a club, he recognised the true potential of the club and saw it as something he could help to progress. Yet he never received backing of the club’s higher ups and eventually became tired and left when he had the chance.

I, like many, would welcome the return of Rafa Benitez with open arms should the Saudi backed consortium takeover of the club, also involving Amanda Staveley and the Reuben brothers, go through.

To ignore the work Steve Bruce has done this season though would be nothing short of disrespectful. Upon arrival to the club there weren’t many Newcastle fans who didn’t doubt the appointment of Bruce and definitely saw it as a step back after the departure of Rafa, I can certainly say that I was one of those fans.

Bruce has done a solid job this season, picking up some impressive results along the way and kept the club in the Premier League. This, however, should not be a requirement of a Newcastle United manager. The club is so much bigger than relegation scraps.

Therefore, now is the time for the takeover to go through. Ashley is ready to leave and the fans are more than ready for him to do so. The silence from the Premier League on their ‘Fit and Proper Persons test’ has been deafening. 14 weeks the test has gone on for now. Of course it is understandable that the situation is complicated due to the issues with Piracy in Saudi Arabia and their views on human rights. However, the lack of clarity and empathy from the Premier League and Chief Executive Richard Masters must not be ignored.

Masters’ latest comment on the proposed takeover of Newcastle United was that he couldn’t comment on any timings as things get “complicated.” He also stated that it involves “all sorts of due diligence, It’s confidential.” Before finishing off by saying that the Premier League cannot provide a running commentary.

Henry Winter, Chief football writer for the Times, who clearly understands Newcastle fans frustrations, put it best with his tweet replying to Masters’ statement.

“Nobody expects Masters to give “running commentary” but it would be respectful to #nufc fans for Masters to state publicly during long process that he understands their impatience, sympathises, but deal complex. That’s not breaching confidentiality. That’s showing some respect.”

The time that it is taking for the Premier League to complete this test is eating into vital time for the club, as the current season is coming to an end after ‘Project Restart’, the summer transfer window is opening, meaning that we could miss out on transfer targets as Ashley is unlikely to allow investment when he is waiting to sell up.

The new owners are also likely to bring in a new manager, so there’s time going astray for the new manager to come in and get to know the squad and get tactics in place ready for the 2020/21 campaign.

A letter was wrote by a legal counsel on behalf of the Newcastle United Supporters Trust to Richard Masters in support of the proposed takeover, as they acknowledge the “number of attempts to discredit this takeover” during the process of the Premier League’s Owners and Directors test. However, at this time both the letter to Richard Masters from the trust and his response are to be kept private.

This proposed takeover is everything to Newcastle fans, a light at the end of the tunnel if you may.

Amanda Staveley, the Reuben brothers and the Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund are somewhat of an antibacterial spray, removing the disease that has caused our club to suffer to the past thirteen years under Ashley’s ownership. The #cans movement shows this, with fans desperate to hear good news of Ashley’s departure and the return of the good times.

With players already at the club like Allan Saint-Maximin and Miguel Almiron, the club could go back to being the Entertainers that they were back in the mid 90s, with the French winger providing some of the most entertaining bits of football this season. If he was to stay at the club and the right players were brought in and the club received much needed development off the pitch, there is every possibility a club as big as Newcastle could return to being a top six Premier League club.

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