Mike Ashley, owner of Newcastle United, has made no secret of the fact he wants to sell the club. So when financier Amanda Staveley, who partly masterminded the Abu Dhabi takeover of Manchester City, was on the verge of completing a deal to take Newcastle under the ownership of a Saudi-backed consortium backed by Mohammed bin Salman and the Reuben brothers, you could have forgiven the supporters for cracking open the
champagne cans early. The takeover, first proposed in January, had a different sort of feel to ones rumoured in years gone by. But by yesterday afternoon, it reached an all-too familiar conclusion. The consortium walked away and Newcastle was still the property of Ashley.
Staveley is said to be devastated, and blamed rival clubs for undermining the takeover. Amnesty meanwhile welcomed the news, a ‘sign’ that sportswashing cannot prevail. This morning on Twitter, #PremierLeagueIsCorrupt and #WeWantSaudi were trending. Perhaps #GetAshleyOutAndBringInSomeoneToSpend is a more accurate hashtag. The ordinary fan ultimately wants to see their team have success and that usually means having a billionaire to finance it. They don’t care how that money was obtained, so long as it is pumped into transfers and making their team as competitive as possible. And if trophies are won and memories are created, will they moan? Probably not, but they aren’t being disingenuous.
For Newcastle, the takeover saga continues. Staveley has not given up hope and would love nothing more to strike up a deal between the club and a consortium. Whether the Saudi Public Investment Fund will purchase a controlling stake in Newcastle or another English football club remains to be seen.