I must admit, when last week’s unfortunate news that the consortium led by Amanda Staveley that featured the Reuben brothers and the Saudi PIF was pulling out of their deal to purchase Newcastle I was sad, confused, and disappointed; but, I moved on rather quickly.
I must admit, when I first saw fans drafting petitions and tweeting at the Premier League that they were corrupt. I thought “ this is a bit much, the deal is dead, let’s move on.
I must admit, I was growing increasingly frustrated with fans tweeting out graphics saying the Premier League is corrupt for not letting this sale go through, camping outside of the Premier League office, and drawing up diagrams showing that Richard Keys was in bed with Qatari officials.
I must admit, that I was completely wrong about all of this.
I started this week off tweeting about how I believed that Newcastle fans would not be pleased with the transparency that they claimed they wanted from the Premier League. I boldly claimed for the world to see, that many Newcastle fans would attack the Premier League until the Premier League pushed the deal through.
Say the deal gets back on track and the PL denies it, justifies it with an explanation, and provides transparency in the process. I feel like many #NUFC fans will attack the PL for denying the deal. Seems like fans don't want transparency, they want the deal to be pushed through— elijah newsome (@Elijah_Newsome) August 3, 2020
Boy was I wrong.
I was absolutely dragged by Newcastle fans both publicly and in my DMs, and rightfully so. I looked at this whole takeover saga from the perspective of an ignorant American, and failed to see past my own thoughts about the saga to understand that Newcastle fans just wanted an explanation for why a glimmer of hope was snatched away from them.
The hope I’m referring to is not the hope that Newcastle will one day sign Marcelo, Mata, Mbappe, and Messi. It was simply the hope that they would have owners who cared about the club. Owners who would do things like invest in the team facilities, the academy, and St. James. They hoped for owners who would not try to squeeze every dime out of fans while offering nothing in return, or owners who would not let a world class manager walk away from the club and replace him with a manager who’s only record is the number of team’s he’s gotten promoted from The Championship.
In hoping for ambition, Newcastle fans discovered a new source of hope as more and more details leaked about the proposed takeover. Much needed investment in the city of Newcastle and the northeast as a whole was on the books, which made this takeover about more than just the team. It made the takeover about bringing new life to a whole region, providing jobs, and supporting the community in ways never seen before.
When that was taken from fans, they deserved an answer to why exactly. The consortium claim their withdrawal was due to the delayed action by the Premier League regarding the Owners and Directors Test. They claim there was a constant moving of the goalposts, false confirmations, and an overall lack of communication from the Prem. Whether this is true or not, the onus is on the Premier League to at a minimum give reasoning to behind they’ve delayed their decision.
At the end of the day, that is what has started this movement from the fans. Overall, fans just want to know why.
Why delay this when it is something that is not only good for the league’s status but also literally revitalizes and entire region of England?
Why delay this when for the first time a owner that has tarnished the reputation of the Premier League for 13 years with his multiple shady practices is finally willing to leave the league?
Why delay this when delaying it only continued to make things worse?
These were the questions on the minds of every Newcastle fan after last week’s news. From the 25 year season ticket holder, to the die-hards with Saudi flags in their Twitter bios, to the fans that didn’t want to be a prop for the Saudi regime to the folks like me who just wanted to be done with the whole thing.
With everyone but the Premier League talking, Newcastle fans began to take action. They publicly called on the Premier League to release a statement explaining their delay. When that fell on deaf ears a petition to the government was drafted, calling on the government to conduct an “independent investigation into the English Premier League (EPL) takeover process and Richard Masters who was fundamental in orchestrating the deal.”
That petition has garnered nearly 94,000 signatures in just a little over a week. The petition was shared by celebrities, journalists, and former players alike, and drew the attention of the consortium themselves.
This action was followed up with the NUFC trust organizing a letter writing campaign where people could write to their local MPs to call on the Premier League to release some sort of statement, or have an independent investigation conducted into the Premier League’s handling of this takeover. At the time of this piece, over 6,000 letters have been sent to MPs, and over 20 MPs have written directly to the Premier League.
Not only that, but the Newcastle city council also wrote to the Premier League demanding answers, and Newcastle fans themselves have written to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport ensure the petition is taken seriously.
A copy of the letter sent to the DCMS and petitions committee. With alot of help from @RedRoseMichelle hopefully this will get us somewhere. I will be sending this to our MP's later today. Retweets welcome and appreciated. Also the petition will be back once approved. pic.twitter.com/Ny1cbRG03X— Daniel Paul Fox (@nefoxy91) August 5, 2020
As word spread of Newcastle fans demanding answers from the Prem and coming to their own conclusions as to why this delay happened, Newcastle fans began to garner praise and gain the support of other fans in the league.
As support grew, the notion that possibly the Premier League acts out of self interest grew as well. Some believe that the Prem aims to protect the top 6, others believe the Prem is in bed with Qatar, and some just believe that the Prem hates Newcastle. Whatever you believe about the Prem, people are starting to finally ask questions of one of the largest organizations in a sport that’s had its fair share of corruption scandals at the highest level.
This continued support for the actions of Newcastle fans continued to grow, and so did the coverage of their actions. National media began to cover the petition, Alex Hurst made TV appearances on behalf of the fan base, and it was even being talked about over here in the states.
Amanda Staveley publicly backed the actions of Newcastle fans on behalf of the consortium. She first met with Alex Hurst, chair of the NUFC Trust, to reiterate her and the consortium’s support of the action fans have taken, and followed this up with a statement of her own that was released via the NUFC Trust.
Amanda Staveley has released the following statement through the Newcastle United Supporters Trust:— NUFC Supporters Trust (NUST) (@nufctrust) August 7, 2020
“I would like to thank the Newcastle United Supporters’ Trust and all Newcastle fans for their incredible backing and huge efforts over the past few days and beyond.
Pressure for the Premier League to do something has continued to rise as they continue to stay silent as the days pass on. The NUST confirmed that the Independent Football Ombudsman has even called on the premier League to at least explain their handling of the potential takeover.
The NUST said this in a release
“The Independent Football Ombudsman has confirmed they have no jurisdiction over the application of the Premier League owners and directors test but that they will advise the Premier League to make a statement to fans explaining how the case was handled.”
This statement from the IFO was then backed by the Prime Minister of the UK Boris Johnson who said:
“I agree with their conclusion that the Premier League should make a statement on this case. I am pleased that the Ombudsman has committed to advising the Premier League to provide a statement.”
All of this is not to force the Premier League into allowing this takeover to go through, though I don’t doubt that is what most Newcastle fans would want, it is simply a call for transparency.
The NUST said it best in their August update they released to the public.
“The supporters of Newcastle United have been ignored by the Premier League. The people of the North East have been ignored by the Premier League. The Premier League may have sound reasons for drawing out the takeover process for more than four months and the Premier League may have done everything they needed to do to protect their business and Newcastle United.
However, there must be transparency after the process has completed. Answers must be provided about decisions which affect millions of people in our region.”
This campaign for transparency has united the fanbase unlike anything we have seen since the “Sports Direct Out” days of the Ashley era. The momentum is strong, the fans are united, and Richard Masters is getting nervous.
As a fans we have to continue to back these organized efforts that are demanding something that not only is needed now, but will be needed in the future.
The way fans have banded together in this organized way has proven to be more effective than camping out at the Premier League offices and harassing employees or just spamming the social media of the Premier League. The secretary at the Premier League offices is not going to be the one to get Richard Masters to make a statement, and the social media team for the Premier League probably have not even met Richard Masters.
It makes more sense at this stage to continue to back the efforts put forth by the NUST, because not only has it been effective, but it is a much better look than continued harassment of Premier League employees
Nonetheless, the efforts to gain transparency have been cunning, organized, and effective thus far and for that Newcastle fans all over the world should take a bow. Not many fanbases would have organized themselves so quickly, been as effective, and been as resilient as our fans have been. It is something truly beautiful to see, and every day a little bit of the hope I had lost returns.
So get involved if you haven’t, and continue to spread the word if you are already involved.
We will persevere.
The link to sign the petition calling on the UK government to independently investigate the Premier League is here. The link to send a letter to your MP is here. To join the NUST visit their website here.