Reports are emerging that a takeover deal of Newcastle United is close. The Northern Echo claim that Mike Ashley has agreed a deal in principle with Peter Kenyon to sell the club for £300M, the paper also claims that the payments would be staggered.
Newcastle United fans can be forgiven for not getting their hopes up on this as they have been here many times before. In fact, exactly a year ago, reports emerged that Amanda Staveley was close to a takeover of the club. Newcastle fans all know how that ended, Mike Ashley put a stop to that one. The Sports Direct tycoon did not believe Staveley and PCP Capital were taking negotiations seriously.
Fast-forward a year and the club are in the same position, facing an uncertain future on multiple levels. It seems as though Mike Ashley has been trying to sell the club since the moment he purchased it in 2007. Ashley has overseen two relegations and could well be on for a third if his lack of investment continues. There is the uncertainty on Rafael Benitez’s future. The Spaniard has worked miracles at Newcastle, guiding the club to the Championship title before steering the Magpies to a 10th place finish last season, but this could easily be his last season.
All the uncertainty around the club must be put right for Newcastle United’s sake and for the sake of the fans, who have endured 11 years of bad management under Ashley. There is only so much Benitez can do with such little backing. The former Liverpool manager cannot be expected to continuously work miracles. At present, this is set to be Benitez’s last season on Tyneside and it is vital that he stays. However with contract talks at a standstill for now, Benitez being Newcastle United manager at the start next season looks highly unlikely. Should Benitez leave the club in the summer, Newcastle United would be taking a huge step backwards. Benitez sees the potential of the club and wants to take the club forward, there are many out there that see the potential of Newcastle United, however, Ashley is completely unaware of the clubs potential.
A Good Businessman?
There are many who see Ashley as a good businessman, but there’s not much evidence that back that claim up. Sports Direct have made headline news on multiple occasions for mistreating their employees, most of whom had been on zero hour contracts. Ashley also purchased House of Fraser in a bid to save the company. Pictures circulated online of tacky Sports Direct discount stickers on House of Fraser items. It seems Ashley is turning the company into another Sports Direct.
Ashley should know the term “You get out what you put in”. However, the Newcastle owner has put little effort, time or money into Newcastle United which has led to the decline of the club. Newcastle’s record signing is still Michael Owen, who signed for the club in 2005. That is astonishing, especially with the money being spent in football today. Newcastle have been outspent by the likes of Bournemouth, Brighton, Watford and Wolves, all of whom Newcastle were head and shoulders above before Ashley took over. In fact all four teams mentioned were in the leagues below when Ashley purchased Newcastle United.
Is it Different This Time?
There are some Newcastle fans who believe that it feels different this time. There is a feeling that Ashley is willing to sell, now more than ever.
With Ashley facing legal action over his involvement in Scottish side Rangers, the problems at House of Fraser and Sports Direct, it appears that Ashley has too much to handle. The Newcastle owner has no love or interest in the club and the signs are that Ashley has now milked the cow dry.
Ashley has constantly lied to Newcastle fans, sucking out any optimism they have left, leaving the St James’ Park support almost lifeless. Once one of the most atmospheric grounds around, Ashley has drained all the noise out of St James’ Park. Nobody can blame the supporters for not believing a word that comes out of Ashley’s mouth. Newcastle fans can see a brighter future, especially with Benitez at the helm, who is without doubt the best manager to take charge since Kevin Keegan or Sir Bobby Robson. The problem is the merry-go-round of the sale of Newcastle United. In truth, the club have been left in limbo by Ashley for ten years and it shows.
If Peter Kenyon and Rockafella Capital Management were to takeover at Newcastle, their first port of call would be to get Benitez to sign a contract extension. Newcastle have everything there to succeed, a world class manager, loyal and passionate fan base, a fantastic stadium, all that is needed is an owner with ambition and the funds to be able to back Benitez.
It remains to be seen whether it is different this time or if it is Groundhog Day yet again for Newcastle fans. However, nobody would be surprised if Ashley is still at the helm this time next year.