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Newcastle United takeover revelations keep coming – Premier League misled bidders and Ashley raised price

3 months ago
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Thursday afternoon saw at last an announcement on the Newcastle United takeover.

However, this announcement wasn’t exactly what Newcastle fans had been hoping for.

The bidders putting out a joint statement (see below) saying that: ‘With a deep appreciation for the Newcastle community and the significance of its football club, we have come to the decision to withdraw our interest in acquiring Newcastle United Football Club. We do so with regret…’

Not surprisingly, the news has prompted a veritable tsunami of claims and counter-claims about exactly what has happened and why.

Cutting through most of the nonsense in the media, George Caulkin and The Athletic have shone at least some clarity on what has been going on.

Amongst the bullet points in this report from The Athletic are the following:

‘During detailed conversations with The Athletic, multiple sources connected to the consortium have claimed that:

The Premier League gave them “private assurances” before the deal was signed and again in mid-April that “approval would be forthcoming soon” before the mood music changed in June

After being asked by the Premier League to provide information about PIF’s independence from the Saudi state, there were guarantees “from the highest possible levels that there would be no state interference in the running of the club”

They believe the Premier League has been “unduly influenced by politically motivated attacks from third parties” and “repeatedly moved the goalposts and the process was devoid of transparency or objectivity”

They suspect some of their top-flight rivals, believed to be Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur in particular, were strongly against the takeover and made their opposition evident to administrators

The “final straw” was the Premier League’s refusal to put a timeline on a decision, whether rejection or approval

The decision to pull out was agreed by all parties but led by PIF

Ashley asked for more money after the June 26 completion deadline had expired, raising the £300 million price, although Staveley told The Athletic “that is absolutely not the issue”

As Newcastle fans, we have had a long time to wonder what has been going on, now we have had a lot of those boxes ticked.

Mike Ashley raising the asking price – TICK

Premier League giving assurances and then doing the opposite – TICK

Instead of simply following their own laid down rules on approving (or not) a takeover, the Premier League allowing it to become a political football with no transparency – TICK

Other Premier League clubs trying to stop the NUFC takeover – TICK

The Premier League refusing to give a timeline and clearly hoping to sicken the bidders into giving up – TICK

Then of course no surprise to hear that it was the Saudi PIF who have finally declared enough is enough, as they were the ones mainly funding the deal.

The Premier League supposedly operates with highly paid but unbiased administrators (Richard Masters etc) who are there to fairly represent all 20 members / stakeholders (the 20 clubs who happen to make up the PL at any one time) equally.

However, it is clearly a case of the old ‘all animals are equal but some are more equal than others.’

Quite obvious that certain clubs wield far more power and influence AND that the supposedly unbiased independent administrators, have not simply followed the PL rulebook.

The Premier League may generate the most money of any league but when it comes to integrity they are one of the world’s worst.

The joint statement released by PIF, PCP Capital Partners and Reuben Brothers on Thursday 30 July 2020:

With a deep appreciation for the Newcastle community and the significance of its football club, we have come to the decision to withdraw our interest in acquiring Newcastle United Football Club.

We do so with regret, as we were excited and fully committed to invest in the great city of Newcastle and believe we could have returned the Club to the position of its history, tradition and fans’ merit.

Unfortunately, the prolonged process under the current circumstances coupled with global uncertainty has rendered the potential investment no longer commercially viable.

To that end, we feel a responsibility to the fans to explain the lack of alternatives from an investment perspective.

As an autonomous and purely commercial investor, our focus was on building long-term value for the Club, its fans and the community as we remained committed to collaboration, practicality and proactivity through a difficult period of global uncertainty and significant challenges for the fans and the Club.

Ultimately, during the unforeseeably prolonged process, the commercial agreement between the Investment Group and the Club’s owners expired and our investment thesis could not be sustained, particularly with no clarity as to the circumstances under which the next season will start and the new norms that will arise for matches, training and other activities.

As often occurs with proposed investments in uncertain periods, time itself became an enemy of the transaction, particularly during this difficult phase marked by the many real challenges facing us all from Covid-19.

We feel great compassion for the Newcastle United fans with whom we shared a great commitment to help Newcastle United harness its tremendous potential and build upon its impressive and historic legacy while working closely with the local community.

We would like to say that we truly appreciated your incredible expressions of support and your patience throughout this process. We are sorry it is not to be.

We wish the team and everyone associated with it much good luck and success.’

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