When asked how long fan can expect to wait until the Premier League confirms whether the proposed Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund takeover of Newcastle United has passed the prosecutive owners and directors test, CEO Richard Masters had many words, but the one that stood out was “shortly”.
It was an intelligent way of answering the question on many fans’ lips, giving no actual time frame while suggesting that the process is drawing close to its end. But it has now been a week since those remarks and approaching four months since the test began, and it is at risk of destabilising the club should it continue to be drawn out.
It is one thing leaving the supporters in limbo, but officials attempting to run Newcastle United have been put in a perilous position, as reports have emerged from those inside the club that current owner Mike Ashley has all but moved on already. Discussions are set to take place this week regarding next campaign’s pre-season, as well as any potential loan and transfer deals, but with no knowledge of who will be running the club, planning for the future will likely be as accurate as attempting to predict it.
Furthermore, manager Steve Bruce revealed he has not been allowed to speak with the prospective owners, leaving the man at the helm of the Magpies unsettled and in a position where he has pleaded to the Premier League for “clarity“. To make matters worse for the man who has guided this side to 43 points, there have also been suggestions, should the deal be completed, former Tottenham Hotspur boss Mauricio Pochettino could be lined up as a successor.
Stuck in a knowledge vacuum, Bruce has at least made the absolute most of the resources available to him, guiding the Magpies to safety with five games left to play. However, regardless of how the situation pans out, he has been left in a vulnerable position which could leave him unprepared for next term, both concerning pre-season fitness and finances.
A myriad of issues have surfaced at St James’ Park this term, with multiple boycotts of the ground, countered by Ashley handing out 10,000 free season tickets and now the international scrutiny which has been attached to potential Saudi Arabian investment. Through thick and thin Bruce has managed to stabilise this club, even with precarious foundations. Still, after a season of legitimate progress, the drawn-out negotiations threaten to disrupt that stability.
However, continuing the owners and directors test beyond the season and into the transfer window places Newcastle in a precarious position where they cannot plan for the future accurately.