Christian Purslow on Newcastle United takeover (and what he said in Oct and Dec 2017)
Christian Purslow was appointed as chief executive of Aston Villa Football Club on 31 August 2018.
Less than five weeks later he was part of the decision making team that sacked Steve Bruce after a disastrous start to the season, replacing him with Dean Smith.
A major success for Christian Purslow and his new colleagues, as Smith turned around a season of Championship struggle into promotion instead, that same season.
Purslow as formerly the managing director of Liverpool Football Club and then later the head of global commercial activities at Chelsea.
Speaking on the Newcastle United takeover, Christian Purslow has now rubbished the idea that the NUFC deal could or should have been blocked.
The Aston Villa CEO saying it is ‘fanciful’ to think that when Saudi Arabia is seen as a valuable trading partner and ally by the UK Government, a single company, in this case a football club, should find itself treated any differently.
Christian Purslow speaking to Talksport – 25 November 2021:
“Newcastle and Saudi Arabia…we elect politicians to formulate domestic and foreign policy.
“The foreign policy of the United Kingdom is that Saudi Arabia is an ally and significant trading partner and we do huge amounts of business with them.
“And I’m sure there will be moments given some of the stuff that has happened in that country the last few years, where the Government have been slightly embarrassed by that stance – but that is the official foreign policy of this country.
“So the idea that one private company in football, would take a stance at odds with the stance of our Government, I think is fanciful.
“Whether that is a regulator, whether that is a CEO of the Premier League, whether that is a group of Premier League [clubs] trying to stop it….it’s just not the policy of this country.
“…On the narrow question of buying football clubs, that we can expect the football industry to go, to take a unique stance against the rest of the country [is nonsense]…
“I know the new owner of Newcastle very well.
“I believe that they have good intentions in respect of the rules.
“I can confirm, it is out there in the public domain, that deal has probably been a catalyst to a long overdue revisiting of those regulations that deal with owners using related parties, associates, businesses they are close to, to inflate their sponsorship income, to get through the financial fair play rules.
“Those rules are right now being broadened, tightened, modernised, that is a really good thing for the league.”
Interesting to look back and having left Chelsea in February 2017, Christian Purslow made a number of appearances as a media pundit, talking about the business side of football, including a number of times discussing a potential Newcastle United takeover…
These are quotes from a couple of those media spots in October 2017 and December 2017, after Mike Ashley had made a public statement that he intended to sell Newcastle United as soon as possible…
Christian Purslow speaking to Sky Sports News – 31 October 2017:
“It is very risky going public in any business, announcing it is going to be sold, but in this case it is very clear that Mike Ashley wants out as soon as possible.
“By my calculations, he has probably spent over £250m buying the club, clearing its debts, and investing. He has a chance now to recover that money.
“Newcastle are flying in the league, they have a fantastic coach, the Premier League money is on the up, but he knows it is a precarious position.
“He has been relegated twice in the 10 years he has owned the club.
“I don’t think he wants to take that risk again, hence the very unusual measure of not only announcing a quick sale, but that he is (also) willing to help buyers by staging the payments.
“I think there is a strong argument right now that Rafa Benitez is the key asset of the football club.
“He is a top tier manager and he is a manager used to working for the real cream teams around Europe,
“I think right now, for Mike Ashley, keeping Rafa in the tent, helping facilitate this sale, is absolutely critical.
“Let me tell you, any buyer wanting to buy Newcastle will want to engage with Rafael Benitez.
“They have to because losing Rafael Benitez as a new owner would be a catastrophic start point.”
Christian Purslow talking to Sky Sports News – 4 December 2017:
“Her (Amanda Staveley) view on value and Mike Ashley’s are some way apart but critically she is also starting to be concerned about relegation risk.
“Offering an owner of a Premier League team a deal that says, ‘I will give you £250-300m, but if in August I find myself in the Championship I’d like a refund of a £100m’…Mike Ashley is never going to accept a deal like that.
“The more likely sequence of events, I am not saying it is impossible, is that buyers wait to see where Newcastle settle and once their Premier League fate is secure then a deal gets done by the end of the season.
“But the idea that a deal is going to happen in the next few weeks, let alone at levels that are way below what Mike Ashley’s asking price was, is fanciful.
“I think by the end of the season is when the club gets sold.
“A run of poor form can turn a team in seventh place, everything looking rosy, into a team where the possibility of relegation starts to loom.
“The significance of that is that when you are buying or selling a football club, the valuation is directly linked to the revenue performance of that club.
“A club in the Championship is worth substantially less, a fraction of a club in the Premier League.
“Mike Ashley was rushing, positively rushing to capitalise on Newcastle’s very good start to the season in the summer and autumn.
“We are now moving into these long winter days and Newcastle have had a very bad run of form.
“For any potential acquirer of Newcastle, today, to commit to a valuation would be a very bold move because if the club was relegated that value would look crazy.”
Moving almost four years on and of course Newcastle United were bought and sold in the kind of situation that Christian Purslow was warning about, during a season when in relegation trouble.
However, Amanda Staveley has said since the 7 October 2021 takeover, that the consortium felt they were left with no choice really , that it was now or never if they were going to buy Newcastle United from Mike Ashley, that the opportunity would very likely never present itself again.
Which brings us to now…Newcastle United and the new owners facing the initial immediate challenge of avoiding relegation, before any of us can think / dream about better times ahead. Ashley and Bruce having left a complete mess behind them, as the pair exited with their pockets stuffed with cash.
If you would like to feature on The Mag, submit your article to email@example.com