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Opinion

Amanda Staveley and the Saudi PIF are no more our best mates than Mike Ashley is BUT it’s not important

4 months ago
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Does sentimentality have any place in the modern day world of the Premier League and Newcastle United in particular?

Do the 20 football clubs have owners who truly love them unconditionally, in sickness and in health…?

Over in Germany it is an easy question to answer for the Bundesliga clubs, all of them must be majority owned by fans.

It is in the rules you see.

A bit like the Premier League, the Bundesliga have rules. However, the rules laid down by those running football in Germany are designed to benefit all clubs and their fans.

One thing we have seen for sure with this Newcastle United takeover, is that there is no altruistic lifeblood running through those who control English football at the top end.

As for sentimentality, that is left to the fans.

Which brings me to the reaction of some Newcastle supporters to the attempted / failed takeover.

A significant number of Newcastle fans seem to think that the consortium trying to buy our football club were some kind of Robin Hood characters.

Motivated by some deep selfless desire to rescue Newcastle United from the evil Mike Ashley, simply in order to deliver it back into the hands of the grateful fans.

I hate to be the one to spoil any illusions / delusions. However, Amanda Staveley and the Saudi PIF are no more our best mates than Mike Ashley is BUT it’s not important.

Maybe they (Amanda Staveley and the Saudi PIF, not Mike Ashley) could be one day but that would be down way down the line. Something that could build a long way down the line after we had got into bed together, so to speak.

At this point in time though, all Newcastle fans with a grasp on reality must surely understand that their driving motivation for owning Newcastle United is exactly the same as Mike Ashley’s was 13 years ago, how owning the club could benefit them, not the supporters.

There is nothing wrong with that though, it is just…business.

The Saudi PIF wanted to own Newcastle United because it ticked various boxes for them. Long-term they no doubt could see that making money out of the football club would be possible, whilst a decent dose of sportswashing wouldn’t do any harm to them either.

Whilst for Amanda Staveley, why wouldn’t she want to land a key role running a football club that could potentially have been the most financially powerful in the world? Money and power are the key drivers for people in business.

Maybe only the Reuben brothers could be seen as slightly different to a small extent. They do have longer standing roots in the city / region with a series of developments / projects particularly in the city centre, as well as owning Newcastle racecourse. However, their interest in owning part of Newcastle United would have simply been purely a business one.

The difference between this lot and Mike Ashley isn’t that they have always dreamed of being our best mates. Instead it would have been that they’d have had the drive and ambition to try and make Newcastle United successful on and off the pitch AND seen it as a no-brainer to work WITH the fans to help make this happen.

Aiming for a win / win outcome.

Newcastle United fans get a successful football club / team, the owners get long-term benefits / profits and be lauded as successful football club / business operators…plus hopefully an increasing buzz and / or affection for the football club they own.

I believed in this takeover (purely in football terms) because the people behind it would be capable of putting together a credible ambitious plan to transform Newcastle United, bringing long-term benefits to both Newcastle fans and to the wider region / population. It wasn’t because I believed they were do-gooders, looking to help out long suffering NUFC supporters.

Correct me if I’m wrong but certainly the only instance of a fan owned club winning the title in the Premier League era, was Blackburn and Jack Walker.

Otherwise, the Premier League has been a battle won by the likes of Dubai, Russia, Thailand and the USA.

Looking around the Premier League for fan owned clubs, you have Brighton and Burnley, though Norwich have been relegated. Palace has minority fan ownership, same with Palace. Obviously when referring to fan ownership in this context, it isn’t Bundesliga type mass fan ownership, instead businessmen owners who also happen to be fans.

Just look at who is coming up from the Championship.

Owner of West Bromwich Albion is Lai Guochuan, a Chinese billionaire businessman and investor.

Andrea Radrizzani is an Italian businessman and he also owns Leeds United.

Shahid Rafiq Khan is a Pakistani-born American billionaire businessman who owns Fulham.

The stand out exception is that Fulham’s opponent in the play-off final on Tuesday is Matthew Benham owned Brentford. Benham went to his first Brentford match as an 11 year old and the English businessman is reported to have already put over £100m into the club he has supported all of his life.

If there was the will in this country from the government in particular, we could have a similar scenario as in Germany. It isn’t perfect of course in the Bundesliga but having the fans as the key stakeholders / owners of their football clubs is something that can only be a positive.

In this reality though as things stand, Newcastle fans can only hope that their club can one day be owned by people who have ambition and who understand that the best / only way of achieving their ambitions and targets, is by creating a better football club by working with supporters, not against them as Mike Ashley has done these past 13 years.

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