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2020: The year that these foes became Newcastle United allies

9 months ago

I can’t believe we’re only eight months into what has to be the craziest year in living history.

Even more so if you’re a Newcastle United fan.

What have we seen this year?

The 2020 honours list:

The year that a pandemic forced worldwide governments to take extreme measures to protect their countries.

We went into lockdown, pubs and clubs shut, people didn’t leave their homes outside of essential activity and the football stopped.

Euro 2020 cancelled, the Premier League, Champions League, Europa League, FA Cup and Championship all put on hold whilst League One and Two shut up shop and declared the season finished, bar the playoffs.

The year that the wrongful death of a black man at the hands of police in America saw worldwide protests. TV programmes were cancelled or edited; statues were torn down. Change was demanded.

The year that Newcastle United threatened to become the richest club in the world. The year that Saudi riches would snatch us from this model of mediocrity and develop us into a team that can compete.

I mean the fact that we officially left the European Union, in January, is almost forgotten about compared to everything else that’s gone on. That was supposed to be THE big thing that happened this year.

What else will happen this year?

Cheering the fireworks over the Tyne, as the clock hit midnight on December the 31st, I would never have imagined 2020 containing so much drama and so many life changing events.

We’ve always had these virus scares but none of them have seen so many nations shut down.

We’ve seen unlawful killings of black men in America before but none of them have seen so many nations rise up.

We’ve seen fakeovers, sheikovers and contentious signals of intent from Mike Ashley to sell this club but none of them united the fanbase and made so many of us believe.

There is still the best part of five months of this year left. What’s going to happen next?

I honestly wouldn’t be shocked if we made first contact with aliens, or if the Queen decided to abdicate and hand over to the monarchy to one of her corgis.

But another surprising thing appears to be happening.

People, who in 2019, I would have considered adversaries, are now people I’m rooting for. Amidst all the chaos of the takeover withdrawal, the petition, the letters to MPs, the relentless Twitter storm, we are finding friends in places we never thought we would.

Mike Ashley: chaos conductor, dream destroyer, ambition annihilator; could be the key to this takeover happening. After years of claiming he wants to sell, he now seems to actually want to sell. Many are suggesting he can file legal action for restraint of trade or could do the deal privately and have the new owners present the completed deal to the Premier League, to test their mettle. What could/would the Premier League do then? Relegate Newcastle, give us a points deduction or a fine? With the money we’d have behind us, I doubt any of these things would present a long-term concern and without this deal there’s a considerable fear of relegation anyway.

Suddenly, fans are on Mike Ashley’s side. We’re uniting behind the absentee landlord, willing him to load up on ammunition and blast this deal through.

Simon Jordan, perennial antagonist of the Geordie nation. Narrator of nonsense, preacher of poppycock, speaker of sh… is suddenly coming out and backing the deal, stating that he can’t see why the Premier League haven’t allowed it and making us all aware of this restraint of trade principle.

Mike Ashley has now said he’s still talking to the Saudis and that he’s hopeful of finding a way to get a deal through. Reports are coming out that he’s considering legal action. Of course, looking at Mike Ashley’s past behaviour could make you nervous that this is just the latest smokescreen as he finds a way to justify minimal spend in this transfer window. I personally don’t think he even cares enough to bother with these games anymore. I, and many others, are now cheering on a man we’ve resented for so long and are hoping that he takes the advice of another man many of us dislike, Simon Jordan, and wrestles this deal through, by hook or by crook.

Without getting into personal politics too much, I have never and will never vote Tory and am not overly fond of Boris Johnson as Prime Minister (obviously he’s been great entertainment down the years as an MP but PM… really?). Now though I find myself applauding him as he sides with the Ombudsman and declares that the Premier League need to make a statement on why this deal took so long.

The Premier League have still not spoken which just adds to our own suspicions and, if anything, makes me more confident that something positive could still happen. Suddenly, I’m backing BoJo and hoping he can shake and shame Masters out of this shroud of silence. I’m praying he can get this deal sorted for his pals from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Whatever next, Lee Cattermole chaining himself to Shearer’s statue and refusing to eat or drink until the Premier League waive the deal through?

You can follow the author on Twitter @billymerlin


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