By Charlie DeMatteo
When Sheikh Mansour and the Etihad Group purchased Manchester City in 2007, fans around the world raised their eyebrows in curiosity to see how this group would change the culture of the club.
Almost 15 years later, that takeover is viewed as nothing less than a godsend for the blue side of Manchester. Having won numerous Premier Leagues and countless trophies, the boat-loads of money coming from the Saudi Arabia group with a net worth of around $23 billion quickly became the dream scenario for any club in the world. Since Manchester City, multiple clubs such as PSG have been taken over by Saudi-based consortiums, and success has followed. Now with that being said, let’s take our attention to a cathedral of football, St. James’ Park, in Newcastle Upon Tyne.
Newcastle United are a storied club. With some of the most passionate fans in the world, football is well and truly an integral part of city life.
There was a time in Newcastle where they were consistently challenging towards the top end of the Premier League. Under the expertise of Sir Bobby Robson, who was the mentor of the great Jose Mourinho, Newcastle were one of the biggest clubs in the world, and the results on the pitch matched that.
Since the time of Alan Shearer, the top goal-scorer in all of Premier League history with his 260 goals, Newcastle’s success has plummeted. The decline in Newcastle’s performance in the league has perfectly coincided with the arrival of Mike Ashley, a British businessman, who has been anything but popular in the eyes of Geordie’s across Newcastle.
Ashley has frustrated and tormented Newcastle fans, never spending the money in the transfer market needed to sustain a competitive Premier League team. In Ashley’s 14-year tenure, Newcastle have been relegated to the Championship twice. To be fair to Ashley, he spent money to get the team out of the Championship, but both times they returned to the top flight, his stingy policies continued and little to no money was spent when they arrived back. As long as Newcastle maintained Premier League status, Ashley was happy.
This lackluster and unambitious approach has caused Newcastle fans to consistently call for Ashley to sell the club. There seemed no hope in this department, until the spring of 2020
As the world was heading towards a lockdown, there were rumors on Tyneside of a Saudi Arabian consortium looking to purchase the club. Seeing the success of clubs transformed by Saudi money such as Manchester City and PSG, Newcastle fans’ wish looked to finally come true. However, a combination of the Premier League board and owners of various Premier League clubs such as Daniel Levy of Tottenham Hotspur, the consortium’s attempt to take over Newcastle failed, leaving Newcastle fans in the same desperate position they had been in for years.
Newcastle fans were enraged, claiming the attempt was stopped due to the “Big 6” not wanting another big shark in the sea.
By April of 2020 the saga had reached an impasse. Disagreements between the Premier League and the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund created a situation where there was little hope of a solution.
That all changed yesterday.
Reports came out last night that a breakthrough had been made in negotiations between the two parties and those reports have since been confirmed. Mike Ashley is no longer the owner of Newcastle United, and the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund now owns 100 percent of the club.
So, what does this mean?
Well, the Saudi group who have purchased Newcastle from Mike Ashley boast a combined wealth of $320 billion. That’s right, $320 billion.
For starters, current Newcastle manager Steve Bruce will surely be on his way out the door. Bruce’s Newcastle side currently sit in the relegation zone and are without a win yet this year in the league. With the amount of money now at the hands of any manager who gets the job, some big names will no doubt be linked with the job come January when the transfer market opens.
Could it be Antonio Conte? Zinedine Zidane? Steven Gerrard? The prospect of any of these names would be incredibly intriguing even for someone who is not a Newcastle fan.
In terms of players, you can expect absurdly large amounts of money spent on big names. With Financial Fair Play struggling to crack down on large transfer fees for players, I would make a prediction that Newcastle could spend upwards of $300 million on players over the next year. If the right players are brought in, combined with the right manager, Newcastle could shoot up the Premier League table. The money available to the Saudi consortium allows for Newcastle to spend more money on more players than nearly any club in the world.
This potential transformation is not just intriguing as a team fighting relegation could potentially be fighting for the title next year, but it is also an interesting prospect as it could see the return of a giant. Newcastle United’s fan base is one that belongs at the top of the Premier League. The financial backing of this superpower could see them return to the top.
For the rest of the league, especially the top six, be careful of Newcastle United. They could take your spot in that so-called “Big 6”.
There are obvious question marks over the ways in which this consortium has gained the wealth they have, and rightfully so. But for now, Newcastle fans can finally dare to hope again, and the rest of the Premier League could be about to witness one of the greatest club transformations in the history of sports. So, Howay the Lads.
Featured Image via the Chronicle Live