Well here we are, another transfer window, and more speculation about Newcastle being sold! But does this time feel different? Where are we so far?
A couple of weeks ago, a reporter for the Sun ‘broke’ the news that Ashley had agreed to sell the club to Sheik Khaled and his Bin Zayed Group! Reports of a reported £350 million fee had been agreed by the two parties, and understandably NUFC twitter went into meltdown (including me) thinking this could be it, after 12 years of hurt he could finally be going!
Thankfully in the days that followed several other Journalist’s that write for more…. reputable should we say, newspapers, encouraged us to ere n the side of caution, as it wasn’t as far a long as the Sun would have us believe. What followed would be something Toon fans aren’t use to as of late….The perspective buyers, and specifically Bin Zayed Managing Director started to communicate with the fans through the press. Releasing verified statements, stating any issues with proof of funds have been shown to Ashley’s lawyers, and the Premier League, and that they were serious about ending Mike’s 12 years of bloodsucking that we have had to endure. All the while, the club have only issued a ‘no comment’ or refused to communicate at all, which shows in itself what the hierarchy running the club think of the fans that keep the club going.
With each passing day our (well certainly mine) level of optimism would grow that little bit, as even the smallest details seemed to steer straight towards the club being sold. News was coming out from the Middle East this group was serious, previous statements that couldn’t be confirmed as true, were slowly becoming known fact, all the pieces were starting to fall into place. But if this were a jigsaw we are only 2/3 of the way through. Then last week, a massive step forward! The Bin Zayed Group would open a ‘new’ company with Companies house, and stated they were using the same lawyers that Sir John Hall used to sell the club to Ashley. This company is not so subtly called “Monochrome Acquisition PLC’. Now as most people have realised monochrome means black and white, and acquisition means to buy! now seeing as the group are from the Middle East, and the Arabic language is read right to left, the name literally reads ‘buying black and white’, to be honest that bit might just be me clutching at straws.
Is it Just a publicity stunt?
As with past ‘possible’ takeovers, there has been a high level of scepticism. With many on twitter and probably Facebook thinking this could be another way for Ashley and his Cockney Mafia to take our attention away from the fact Rafa still hasn’t signed a contract, and a way to get out of signing players! And to be honest I don’t blame them, after all we have been here before, with Stavely and Kenyon. This may just be me being overly optimistic, but I don’t think Ashley, Bishop or any of his cronies are anywhere near the information being sent to the press.
First off, this one seems to have been played out differently. There has actually been communication from our possible new owners, and the club haven’t yet shot the talks down as false, in fact they have done the exact opposite, by confirming some of the information was right, then going into a media silence. But look at when Stavely and her PCP group were looking at buying the club: She was photographed in the directors box at St James, offered no real updates, apart from the odd bit on Sky Sports News, and was photoed leaving a curry house where she had met Ashley. Now Kenyon, lets be honest that was a non-starter from the beginning, couldn’t get the funds, couldn’t get a decent consortium behind him, and released a joint letter with Ashley! None of these theatrics have been played out with the Sheik and his group, but there is probably a bigger reason why Ashley isn’t using this as a publicity stunt.
Several years ago there were reports that Ashley was speaking to Sheik Mansour (yes that one) about selling NUFC. However that fell through because of the way Ashley acted and spoke ill of the Islamic faith. Seeing as Sheik Kahlid is a cousin or distant cousin of Sheik Mansour, I really can’t see the Saudi Royal family helping Ashley in anyway, and why would they? If Ashley was using this as a publicity stunt, he has chosen the wrong group of people to do it with! If this is just Ashley and Bishop (I don’t think ol’ Keith is clever enough to do this by the way) playing games, to use a Middle Eastern Royal Family is the worse thing they could do, because to drag their name through the mud, as has happened with previous attempts, Ashley loosing that £350 million with Debenhams, will be the least of his troubles.
Will it happen?
This is the big question! Do I think it will happen, yes I do. There are just to many things that add up that point towards an end to Ashley’s tenure of using OUR CLUB as a bank, and a form of income. I do however think not may be a couple of weeks before anything happens. In that time the club have to tie Rafa down to a new contract, even if it is just a one year rolling agreement, and let the possible new owners deal with a longer term one.
The announcement in my opinion will just happen, I can’t remember a time when the Premier league have released they are conduction an “Owners and Directors test’ until its passed. To go along with that, the Chronicle stated in a piece last week that the only time we will get a statement from the club is when the money is in Ashley’s bank. But what we have to remember is in this case silence from both sides could be a good thing. No doubt NDA’s have been signed, and there is a chance the Bin Zayed Group have entered a period of exclusivity (I’m guessing on that point) which could restrict any information given out. But it is my belief, and a large amount of optimism that this goes through, and come the first game of the season, Rafa is back in the dugout with a team he wants to put out, i.e the signings he wants, yes they will have to be done quickly! But in the ‘new’ Directors box seats there will be a representative from the Sheik’s circle of people, and a new era will dawn on Tyneside.