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Tyne Talk

Newcastle United takeover – Timing proving a nightmare

1 month ago
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The Newcastle United takeover went through 22 days ago.

On Thursday 7 October 2021, Mike Ashley finally handed over the keys to St James Park after a 14+year reign.

His departure sparked spontaneous celebrations, with thousands turning up outside St James Park to share the moment.

However, the timing of this Newcastle United takeover is proving a nightmare.

It was getting on for almost two years since the takeover process first went public and so to an outsider it would maybe look as though the lead in time had been generous. However, it was anything but.

For Newcastle fans it was not much more than 24 hours from the first reported possibility of the Newcastle United takeover being back on, to the final confirmation.

It then became transparent that the new owners had been given little more notice that they could now suddenly get the deal done. Mike Ashley the one who inadvertently really made this clear, by claiming that he had been offered more money by other recent bidders but was sticking with the Saudi financed deal because it was best for the club and fans etc etc. The owner yet again trying to make himself look like the good guy where Newcastle United was concerned, at least to those outside the region. The telling point though was that only around a week earlier, Ashley had his legal team at the CAT hearing, stridently making claims for damages against the Premier League due to the ‘fact’ that he was going to get significantly LESS money from any other interested bidder who had came along in recent times, as compared to what the Saudi led bid had offered.

Mike Ashley transparently (not often he can be called that…) didn’t have any idea that the Saudi deal could be back on, only a week before it then did go through, so I think very safe to say that the buying side didn’t have any idea either that Newcastle United takeover would become fact, with the Saudi deal agreed with beIN Sports and then Premier League approval happening so fast.

So, if it was a whirlwind for supporters, you can then imagine how it was for those taking over. The buying parties with almost zero experience as well of running a football club, Jamie Reuben the exception with a brief period as a director at QPR.

Leaving aside for the moment all of the politics surrounding the Newcastle United takeover, you have to accept that the new owners have an absolutely massive immediate job on their hands with this football club / business, never mind what is needed longer term to make the club a real success, on and off the pitch. No wonder Amanda Staveley and Mehrdad Ghodoussi looked a bit overwhelmed and stunned when doing the media stuff once the keys were handed over.

The truth is, they have been left with an absolutely toxic situation to deal with post-takeover.

Taking over any football club just less than two months after the season has started and just over a month after the transfer window has closed, wouldn’t be ideal. At Newcastle United the word ideal couldn’t be further from the reality.

The new owners taking over a club where the team hadn’t picked up a single win in the opening eight matches, were already deep in relegation trouble, with an unbalanced squad following a disastrous transfer window, topped off with a Head Coach in situ who transparently doesn’t have the necessary ability to do the job.

I think this is why Newcastle fans have been so patient so far…BUT…I think a lot more patience will need to be shown by supporters, as it could be some time before we see real progress at the club, including / particularly on the pitch.

The worst nightmare for any new owners of a club taking over mid-season is an immediate threat of relegation and make no mistake, that is what we have here, there is a real threat of relegation, even with the new owners. Watching the first two matches since the takeover has told us that, simply having new owners with very deep pockets doesn’t in any way guarantee safety. Football is a very different business to most others, decisions taken in the boardroom are no guarantee of changing things quickly on the playing side.

Of course, we can hope and expect that a new manager and action in the January transfer window will help, but with Steve Bruce having burnt through a very generous set of opening fixtures that could and should have produced a fair few more points, the new Newcastle United owners and, for the moment, interim manager Graeme Jones are left with a major challenge in the short-term.

If Chelsea win on Saturday which is by far the most likely result, it would only then take Leeds winning at rock bottom Norwich and Southampton avoiding defeat at Watford, for Newcastle to be five points off safety, when a new manager is then likely appointed following this weekend’s games.

Over a quarter of the season gone and potentially / probably five points clear of safety when you take over, maybe even rock bottom of the table which would be the case if Norwich beat Leeds (and Newcastle lose to Chelsea), with still 11 PL games to play before any chance of having January signings in the team (by which point only 17 PL games remaining).

Once again, due to taking over mid-season and obviously having to move Steve Bruce out as quickly as possible, finding the ideal manager and appointing him is far from easy. If it was the summer then you have far more chance of getting your perfect choice, as if you go for a currently employed manager, their club would then have time to find a replacement. So if you are partly / entirely reliant then on an out of work manager, most of them are out of work for a reason.

Newcastle United do have some good players but they don’t have a great squad and not that great a team. The team / squad isn’t weak enough to have been second bottom of the table but once you are down there and getting demoralised, even with a new manager and ambitious owners it can still be a long slog to get to safety, with indeed no guarantees of doing so.

Mike Ashley took the ridiculous decision to give numerous new contracts out to existing players instead of allowing the essential investment and changeover in the squad. The owner not allowing even a single loan or free transfer this summer, only the signing of Joe Willock.

As fans, we all know that Steve Bruce has enjoyed ridiculous luck in not ending up in serious relegation trouble despite such relatively high transfer backing from Mike Ashley during his time at the club. Like a drunk tightrope walker, you felt Bruce and Newcastle could fall at any time. It obviously helped that you only needed 29 points for safety last season and the two wins in the final few days of the season against already relegated clubs, gave a laughable kind of respectability for outsiders to point to, margins so small and if losing those final two matches of the season Newcastle would have been 17th and not 12th.

The defence is a massive area of concern and we can only hope a new manager can improve things at both ends of the pitch.

As well hopefully a new manager bounce and new signings in January, we can also look forward to players such as Martin Dubravka coming back into the team, maybe even Jonjo Shelvey if he is willing to put the effort in. Along with the likes of Almiron, Wilson, ASM and Willock there are players who give room for optimism.

I think the message though, is that whatever lies ahead, patience is a virtue when it comes to this Newcastle United takeover.

The timing has proved a nightmare and support to team and club has never been more needed.

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