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Newcastle United takeover – Why aren’t Reuben Brothers going it alone after £5bn boost?

3 weeks ago
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The Newcastle United takeover continues to make regular headlines.

So much is written and said about it, yet one aspect is all but ignored.

It is quite astonishing really when you do stop and think about it…

On Friday the 2021 Sunday Times rich list was made public, it showed Mike Ashley moving rapidly up the riches league, now 14 places higher, the Newcastle United owner up from number 75 in the UK to 61st richest, now worth £2.718bn, a massive increase of £769m in his estimated wealth.

Only one Premier League club owner made the new top ten, Chelsea’s Roman Abramovich sitting on a £12.101bn fortune. The only Premier League owner with more financial muscle is Sheikh Mansour of course but he doesn’t meet the criteria to be considered for the Sunday Times list.

Bizarrely, Mike Ashley has regularly in the past liked to play the poor card as Newcastle United owner, how can we compete with nation states etc etc. However, like much of what he puts out this is a nonsense, Ashley may not have the cash reserves of the Man City owner but that then doesn’t excuse not competing at all in the Premier League, apart from the sole Mike Ashley plan of survival, hopefully. The NUFC owner is still ranked easily in the top ten of richest Premier League owners and in reality, other than Man City and Chelsea, no other PL club has significantly richer owners than our tat empire supremo.

At the very top of the 2021 Sunday Times UK rich list was the Ukrainian born oil and media magnate Sir Leonard Blavatnik with £23bn.

Of more relevance to Newcastle fans and this article, is the identity of the second richest in the list.

The Reuben Brothers, David and Simon, their fortune growing by a massive £5.46bn to £21.46bn. With property development at the heart of their business, little wonder they have seen their fortune(s) soaring in this pandemic, with property valuations significantly on the rise.

That estimated £23bn+ fortune would of course make the Reuben Brothers amongst the richest owners in the Premier League, if they of course owned a football club…

Pretty much double the Abramovich fortune, the Reuben Brothers would even potentially be at the very top of the riches tree in Premier League terms. Very difficult to quantify what Sheikh Mansour is actually worth and / or what money / wealth he has access to, but I have seen estimates of around £23bn, so the Reuben Brothers are very much in his ball park.

The Saudi element of the ‘syndicate’ has of course dominated the whole Newcastle United takeover never ending debate, for all kinds of reasons, not least because they have been the sticking point so far for when it comes to Premier League approval.

Of course the Saudi PIF element due to have 80% ownership via a Newcastle United takeover, is another reason why they have also been seen as the dominant part of the story. However, by far the biggest angle for the media has been the potential Saudi wealth that could be stacked behind Newcastle United. Though of course having vast wealth and actually making it available to any particular football club / business you own, aren’t guaranteed to be the same thing. However, it is fair for Newcastle fans and the media to speculate that if the Saudi PIF did become effectively the owners of NUFC, then Newcastle United could potentially challenge the likes of Man City, PSG and whoever else in terms of financial muscle in the football world, over a period of time.

Back to the Reuben Brothers though and their involvement in the Saudi attempted Newcastle United takeover is intriguing, indeed almost as intriguing as why the media have failed to give far more coverage and investigation into exactly what their position is and why?

Why aren’t the Reuben Brothers just going it alone with a Newcastle United takeover?

If they are desperately hoping to be able to get 10% of the NUFC pie, why not 100%? After all, you imagine that without the Saudi element, the Premier League would surely have had nothing at all to put up against them being fit and proper owners.

The £30m / £35m that it would have cost them for their 10% syndicate share, is obviously coppers when it comes to their fortune. Then when you see how the Reuben Brothers fortune has risen by well over £5bn this past year, you are talking about every month on average their wealth increasing by more than the £300m-£350m that the Saudi PIF led syndicate were / are going to pay Mike Ashley.

As well as the media for whatever reason not seeing the Reuben Brothers involvement in a Newcastle United takeover as a massive story, Simon and David Reuben themselves have not been at all keen to say much.

Indeed, we have to go back to the announced breakdown of the Newcastle United takeover last summer, for them in any way going public on the matter, even then it was done in a slightly strange way.

Instead of the Reuben Brothers simply putting out a statement in their own names, on 3 August 2020 an exclusive was given to Sky Sports News, with the statement put out by Martin Cruddace on behalf of the Reuben Brothers, Cruddace being the CEO of Arena Racing (which includes Newcastle amongst the racecourses they own) which is part of their business empire.

Martin Cruddace (on behalf of Reuben Brothers) – 3 August 2020:

“As owners of Gosforth Park and Newcastle racecourse Arena Racing Company, very disappointed that the bid to take over Newcastle football club has been withdrawn.

“Given our shareholders, the Reuben brothers, were to be an integral part of the deal.

“We had many plans for our ventures and sport in the north east.

“We were planning on creating one of the premier sporting hubs in the UK.

“Undertaking development work that is vital for the region and in joint valuable synergies with the football club.

“We continue to hope that those exciting plans are not in vain.

“We would welcome any resurrection of talks and progress with the Premier League and are aware the Reuben Brothers remain totally supportive of the deal, should there be a way forward.”

Considering their longstanding links to the city of Newcastle in terms of business / projects, the Reuben Brothers would appear to be perfect in terms of a Newcastle United takeover.

Just a shame the Reuben Brothers can’t be tempted to go it alone and take control of Newcastle United themselves, rather than attempting as a minority stakeholder with the Saudi PIF.

Maybe the truth is though that owning a football club wasn’t really what the Reuben Brothers were wanting, was it not simply the potential property development aspects that would flow from a Saudi PIF dominant takeover, that attracted them to be involved. After all, property development is their thing, entering the mad world of owning a Premier League football club maybe not so much?

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