Reports emerged last night which revealed the devastating news that no Newcastle fans would have wanted to hear; Mike Ashley is going nowhere for now. The Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund backed prospective bid to take over at St James’ Park fell through after months of deliberations which had stalled.
The final stumbling block appeared to be a lack of clarity over who would be in charge of the club, 16 weeks after documents relating to the £300m takeover were registered with the Premier League. British financer Amanda Staveley led the bid, and she emotionally revealed the circumstances surrounding its collapse.
What did she say?
Speaking to The Athletic’s George Caulkin, Staveley said: “The Premier League wanted the country, Saudi, to become a director of the football club. That’s what this is about.
“They were effectively saying ‘PIF wouldn’t be the ultimate beneficial owner, we believe it’s actually the government. Therefore we want the country to become a director’, which puts them in an impossible situation.”
The broker added: “We had a plan for £250 million of investment in the club over the first few years, as much as we could put in. And on top of that, we had massive plans to invest in the city, in housing, everything. We talked with the council.
“Newcastle are the last great untapped club. The last great club with so much potential to grow and improve and with a fanbase who are already there and who wanted it so much.”
If what Staveley has said is correct, the plans put in place by the Saudi PIF fund could have not only transformed Newcastle United but the whole city. It is easy to understand why fans have described themselves as “devastated” and “heartbroken” at what could have been.
Staveley has suggested that £250m, the maximum Newcastle could have spent to abide by financial fair play over the course of three seasons, was set to be injected into the club, which could have helped revitalise this side. The Magpies are in a precarious position having finished bottom of the expected points table this season, behind even Norwich City, on 31.92.
Instead, Steve Bruce will likely be left with Ashley’s £35m plus player sales transfer kitty this summer, and he will have to recruit incredibly diligently to ensure Newcastle avoid a third relegation under Ashley.