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Got out of our club
Our coverage of - and reaction to - the events of 07.10.21

Takeover complete - official:

Allah with smiling faces!

14 years and two months after he first swept to power, Thursday teatime saw formal confirmation that Mike Ashley is no longer the owner of Newcastle United.

That's as a result of having sold to a consortium of Saudi Arabia (PIF), Amanda Staveley (PCP Capital Partners) and the Reuben Brothers (RB Sports & Media) - whose first stated link with the club came in October 2017.

Crowds began to gather outside SJP from mid-afternoon and grew following news that the takeover had been completed.

Meanwhile, media attention was centred on Jesmond Dene House to the east of the city centre, where Staveley and Jamie Reuben gave a series of interviews.

No representatives of PIF were present.


Premier League statement @ 5.15pm :

The Premier League, Newcastle United Football Club and St James Holdings Limited have today settled the dispute over the takeover of the club by the consortium of PIF, PCP Capital Partners and RB Sports & Media.

Following the completion of the Premier League's Owners' and Directors' Test, the club has been sold to the consortium with immediate effect.

The legal disputes concerned which entities would own and/or have the ability to control the club following the takeover.

All parties have agreed the settlement is necessary to end the long uncertainty for fans over the club’s ownership.

The Premier League has now received legally binding assurances that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will not control Newcastle United Football Club.

All parties are pleased to have concluded this process which gives certainty and clarity to Newcastle United Football Club and their fans.

NUFC statement @ 5.25pm:

An investment group led by the Public Investment Fund (PIF), and also comprising PCP Capital Partners and RB Sports & Media (the “Investment Group”), has completed the acquisition of 100% of Newcastle United Limited and Newcastle United Football Club Limited (“Newcastle United” or the “Club”) from St. James Holdings Limited.

All requisite approvals have been obtained from the English Premier League and the acquisition was completed on 7 October 2021.

The Investment Group is comprised of long-term, patient investors who have every confidence in the future success of the Club. Today’s announcement is the conclusion of a thorough and detailed process that has allowed the Investment Group to arrive at a deal that benefits all stakeholders and will leave Newcastle United well-placed to pursue a clear, long-term strategy.

His Excellency Yasir Al-Rumayyan, Governor of PIF, will serve as Non-Executive Chairman of Newcastle United. Amanda Staveley, chief executive of PCP Capital Partners, will have one seat on the board. Jamie Reuben will also be a director of the Club, representing RB Sports & Media.

For PIF, one of the world’s most impactful investors, the acquisition is in line with its strategy of focusing on key sectors including Sports and Entertainment, and aligns with PIF’s mission to actively invest over the long term – in this case, to harness the Club’s potential and build upon the Club’s legacy.

Commenting on the agreement, His Excellency Yasir Al-Rumayyan, Governor of PIF, said: "We are extremely proud to become the new owners of Newcastle United, one of the most famous clubs in English football.

"We thank the Newcastle fans for their tremendously loyal support over the years and we are excited to work together with them."

Amanda Staveley, Chief Executive Officer of PCP Capital Partners, said: "This is a long-term investment. We are excited about the future prospects for Newcastle United.

"We intend to instil a united philosophy across the Club, establish a clear purpose, and help provide leadership that will allow Newcastle United to go on to big achievements over the long term.

"Our ambition is aligned with the fans – to create a consistently successful team that’s regularly competing for major trophies and generates pride across the globe."

Jamie Reuben of RB Sports & Media, said: "We look forward to a great future for Newcastle United. Newcastle is a fantastic city, which is why our family has been investing heavily in the area for many years. To become part of this great Club and its amazing fans is a privilege.

"We will build a true community Club, based upon our family’s knowledge of the city and in line with our plans that have been worked on closely with Newcastle City Council to deliver long-term sustainable growth for the area."

The directors of the Investment Group thank Mike Ashley for his commitment to the sale process. We would also like to thank the Premier League for its contribution in the regulatory process, which has helped lead to completion of this deal.

A long-awaited Cup victory....


Reaction - Friday:

The morning after the night before - and as evidence of the celebrations is cleared up, thoughts turn not only to the future, but also the wreckage of the last fourteen years.

For those fans growing up in the Mike Ashley era, a change of ownership represents a genuine new beginning to their supporting career - if all you've ever known is this, then you're entitled to your #cans.

Older generations however can recall one or two previous days that were pivotal; be it the arrival of Sir John Hall or Ashley's takeover in 2007 - the latter event giving rise to optimism that better days lay ahead for this club.

We now know that it didn't; the road to division and indifference littered with unwise appointments, needless court cases, regrettable public statements, and baffling squad recruitment policies.

It's more than the infamous paddling pools and "couldn't get it over the line" transfer windows - it wasn't all about the money, much was spent, plenty wasted. It's the "can't compete, won't compete" mindset that needs to be exorcised - a collective inferiority complex.

The legacy of a businessman who failed to capitalise on a colossal opportunity and harness its commercial potential has been to unify a fractured fan base; united in relief that those red and blue adverts will come crashing down.

Alongside that though runs optimism over our future prospects and concerns over the new ownership of the club and their suitability for the colossal amount of work required to "build back better".       

Our constant mantra throughout the last 14 years was that our chances of progress were hindered by a
failure to bring in football people - or keep any we got. That needs to change, and not just in terms of the first team management.

In terms of the support, many are in the Anybody but Mike club currently; those promised riches from Saudi Arabia almost a side issue to bidding good riddance of the sandshoe salesman and his cronies.

That will recede though as the incomers begin to flex their muscles - and the new era brings challenges for the support. Changing the stadium name for instance and seeing just what the new lot deem to be a practical level of fan consultation and communication.  

Others are more than uncomfortable with the track record of those promising to invest in the club and the region in terms of abhorrent human rights abuses and domestic criminal legislation.

To that - and sports washing accusations - we don't pretend to have the answers, but share those misgivings, regardless of the fact that the occupants of Buckingham Palace and Downing Street seem not to.

In a perfect world we'd not be owned by Sports Direct or PIF and not be called upon as football fans to make moral judgements, but this seems to be the reality of the Premier League in 2021.

A change of ownership has come too late for some of those fans who have walked away because of the path that football has taken, not just on Barrack Road.

And while calls for Premier League transparency have receded markedly in NE postcodes, the fan-led review that Nadine Dorres and the DCMS are tasked with remains important  - unless we're happy to pull up the drawbridge now apparently sitting at the top table.

Have a ponder about where you'll stand if and when European Super League returns and the NUFC badge appears on the proposals. There will be a cost for what we stand to gain.

Separation may have been proven to the satisfaction of the football authorities at least in terms of the new owners, but achieving that among the fanbase will be a more elongated process.

If nothing else though, the reset button has been pressed, something that we privately never thought would happen.

It remains to be seen what lies ahead for this club, but bidding farewell to the days of ticking over is a genuine cause for celebration.

History lesson

For anyone now expecting Newcastle United to do the quadruple; we've already blown it this season by not being in Europe and having exited the Carabao and Papa John's under Ashley's watch....

It is worth recalling the slow and steady progress of Manchester City following their takeover however:

2008 Sept: Abu Dhabi Group takeover announced, inheriting Mark Hughes as manager, who had replaced Sven-Goran Eriksson three months earlier. Robinho joins for £32.5m.

2009 July: Carlos Tevez joins from Manchester United.

2009 Dec: Roberto Mancini replaces Hughes.

2010 July/Aug: City spend £120m on David Silva, Yaya Toure, Mario Balatelli and others.

2011 May: City win the FA Cup, beating Stoke City.

2011 July: Sergio Aguero joins for £38m.

2012 May: Aguero's 94th minute winner clinches the Premier League title.

2013 June: Manuel Pellegrini replaces Mancini.

League Cup winners and Premier League winners.

2016: League Cup winners.

2016 July: Pep Guardiola replaces Pellegrini.

League Cup winners and Premier League winners.

2019: League Cup winners, FA Cup winners and Premier League winners.

2020: League Cup winners.

Premier League winners and Champions League runners-up.

Let's avoid relegation in 2022 first....

CAT not out of bag

One expected consequence of the takeover is the discontinuation of the Competition Appeal Tribunal Case brought by Mike Ashley against the Premier League.

Papers released by CAT confirm that the claim was withdrawn last Friday - a day after the sale of the club was ratified.

CAT proceedings lasting one day were streamed live late last month, lawyers for both parties giving evidence to a three-man panel headed by The Honourable Mr Justice Miles.

The separate arbitration action between the two parties scheduled for January will now also presumably lapse - avoiding the hoped-for "drains up" covering the 2020 takeover attempt. 

Takeover - Ashley:
Got my money

Comments from the now-former NUFC owner, Thursday:

"I would like it to be known that I received a higher offer for the club than the one that I accepted.

"It was from another reputable bidder, who made a credible case. But I felt the bid that we accepted from the current new owners would deliver the best for Newcastle United. Money wasn't my only consideration.

"Owning a football club gets into your blood and l would love nothing more than to see Newcastle winning trophies.

"I accept that during my time at Newcastle we have not achieved the club’s full potential on the field, but I do believe that away from the pitch we got many things right.

"I am proud to leave the club on a solid financial footing with no debts, which is obviously a good foundation for the club going forward.

"I’m pleased that a consortium backed by PIF is the new owner of Newcastle United. I am sure this will deliver the success that fans deserve.

"I’ve always said that I would only sell to a new owner if they can invest the necessary funds to enable Newcastle United to compete at the very highest level.

"I believe this change of ownership is true to that principle.”

Takeover - Bruce:
Where's my money?

Comments from the still-current NUFC Manager, Thursday:

"I know I may be sacked at Newcastle - but I won't be bitter.
I want to continue.

"I’d like the chance to show the new owners what I can do, but you have to be realistic and they may well want a new manager to launch things for them. New owners normally want a new manager.

"I’ve been around long enough to understand that. That decision is not up to me. I accept that and I will accept what comes my way.

"I have to wait to have those conversations with people when the time is right. If I don’t make it to 1,000 games against Spurs, you might say that could only happen to me, but I don’t think it would be cruel. It’s just football.

"This is not about me, I cannot stress that enough. I have said from the first-day news of this takeover came out in public, that if it is the best thing for the football club, if it takes this magnificent football club forward then I am all for it.

"I am not going to be bitter or angry about anything, whatever happens. Of course there will be sadness if I lose my job, it’s the job I’ve wanted my whole life, certainly since I became a manager and as hard as it’s been, I have been enormously proud to be manager of Newcastle United.

"That will never change. What happens to me, well, it’s not irrelevant, but this is about the football club and its future. I really hope this is the start of an exciting new era, it certainly sounds exciting when you read about how much money Saudi Arabians have.”

Number 9 dream

Alan Shearer comments to BBC Radio 5, Thursday:

"All we've done is tick along and survive for 14 years. We've had no real ambition, we've survived, cup competitions have been non-existent and this city and this football club and our fans deserve better.

"The fans are loyal, they love their football club and their life is Newcastle United. It all depends on whether Newcastle win on a Saturday. They work hard all week to spend their money on the club, so I understand why there is so much happiness in the city today and I feel exactly the same.

"Our fans also need to know that they matter, because they haven't for 14 years, so today is special for them."

"The dream is that we want a little bit of hope. Fans want their football club to try and be the best and I really understand their excitement for that reason.

"The Newcastle fans have not mattered for 14 years. Their money hasn't been invested and they've not been consulted. To have a football club that has such passionate support but not have that level of consultation is not good.

"We now have owners that will invest and I think that's really important for the fans to see that.

"It will need patience and that's fine. We don't expect to be winning the league in the next few years or winning the Champions League, we just expect a little bit of something to look forward to.

"The fans deserve that, they are such loyal and passionate supporters and they've been on the brink for so long. We were lucky enough to do so much at one time and it was a happy and thriving place, but there's been none of that for the last 14 years."

"I understand that questions have to be asked about the human rights issues, it's really important that we don't brush them under the carpet.

"We have to educate ourselves on that and this will highlight that even more... but already they are massively invested in this country and other sports.

"It is a huge issue but it's not Newcastle United fans' fault - they don't get a say in their football club and how it's run."

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Page last updated 15 October, 2021