If you told anyone from Newcastle, or Geordie, supporting Newcastle it would be possible to see the club boasting a front three of Allan Saint-Maximin, Harry Kane and Erling Haaland under the management of Antonio Conte maybe 2-3 weeks earlier, surely you would have been on the receiving end of a “delightful” talking to as it could only be dismissed as ludicrous. However, fewer stranger things have happened as these few days the football world was shook once again by the successful takeover of Newcastle United by the sovereign wealth fund from Saudi Arabia known as the Public Investment Fund or PIF.
PIF’s success, however, was not easily obtained. The Saudi Arabian side has been trying to acquire a club as prestigious in English football as Newcastle United for some time from the then owner Mikey Ashley. Ashley was an entrepreneur famously known for his position as CEO for Sports Direct International (now Frasers Group Plc) who acquired Newcastle United in 2007 prior to bequeathing it to the foreign side in 2021. Initially, Newcastle United under Ashley saw flashes of improvements. Be that as it may, the club slowly began to suffer from a lack of funds, direction and overall commitment from the progressively disinterested Ashley.
This decline in performance on all fronts led to Newcastle United never amounting to much in all competitions, seemingly doomed for mediocrity at best, if not fighting for their lives to avoid relegation in the top flight. Even in recent memory, Geordies have banded together in an effort to have Ashley and manager Steve Bruce step down and breathe new life into Newcastle United so that the club can escape their current state for the better.
The opportunity then arrived in the form of a consortium formed by PIF, PCP Capital Partners and Reuben Brothers who seemed keen on taking the reins of the sinking ship that was Newcastle United in April 2020. Nonetheless, the bid for Newcastle United was brought to a halt due to the geopolitical standstill between Saudi Arabia and Qatar, which was home for BeIN sports, the biggest overseas contract for licensing English Premier League matches. As Saudi Arabia had banned BeIN sports to be shown on their soil, the situation resulted in the move eventually being blocked. This didn’t last forever though, as fast forward a year plus later, Saudi Arabia finally lifted the ban and the aforementioned consortium quite literally swooped in to finish their business.
And the rest is history. With the takeover successful, we now see yet another Premier League club owned by another middle easter mogul. As things stand, the consortium ensures everyone that PIF only owns 80% of the club, with the other two parties acquiring the remaining 20% split equally. Nonetheless, with the way the owners have been hot on the trail of prolific replacements for the squad and staff, it seems hard to believe that PIF will just play along with rules such as Financial Fair Play, similar to the notorious middle eastern owned Man City.
On a more recent note, Newcastle United manager Steve Bruce appears one of the first individuals to be shown the door, with names such as Antonio Conte, Zinedine Zidane and even the likes of Frank Lampard being thrown around as replacements. Apart from these expensive potential managers, the owners are also looking to bolster its squad with massive expensive additions as well, with names such as Anthony Martial, Jesse Lingard, Harry Kane and Phillipe Coutinho floated around as possibles for the upcoming January transfer window. Whatever promises the owners have made, it certainly feels hard-pressed for anyone to believe how the purchase of 5-10 world-class players could possibly fall within the regulations of FFP.
Alas, the question remains to be answered; will Newcastle United be the new Man City in that it will spend billions in an attempt to catch up to already established clubs? And if that were to be the case, does that bode well for the state of football? Or is it just another domino among the many that would eventually lead to the demise of the sport? Only time will tell.
Hartwick is a content writer under Headliner by Newswav, a programme where content creators get to tell their unique stories through articles and at the same time monetize their content within the Newswav app.
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