Subject to Premier League approval, the takeover of Newcastle United by the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia, Amanda Staveley and the Reuben brothers is all but complete but it appears to have strangely wound up a number of people around the country.
Firstly, within the Newcastle support itself, some have expressed the same concern that certain media figures have driven as their main agenda of late in that Saudi Arabia has a poor human rights record, with its crown prince still the main focus of investigations over the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Turkey.
While this remains a concern for some, the fact that many are speaking out on this and essentially instructing the fanbase at large to be outraged doesn’t really sit well.
Little mention is made of how many others businesses in the UK the Saudi’s own, or that we as a nation even sell arms to them. Saudi Telecom is a major sponsor of Manchester United and there was no nationwide public outcry when Saudi Prince Abdullah bought Sheffield United.
As well as this seemingly unbalanced national reporting, even when some less official titles are being hugely optimistic this too is getting on the nerves of many Newcastle fans who remain realistic, with airbrushed photos of Mbappe, Messi and Ronaldo wearing black and white shirts becoming increasingly tiresome.
Without chips on shoulders, as it simply isn’t the Geordie way, it does seem as though everyone is wading in on this subject with a negative agenda. It’s as though they don’t want to change the natural order in the Premier League. We were the entertainers, the plucky team who were great to watch but couldn’t win the league. The team that loses 4-3 thrillers. The wee club from the north-east.
Fans in Newcastle have been accused of being deluded, a bemusing baptism of a fanbase base that hasn’t seen their team win anything of note and therefore hasn’t grown to expect it. The truth is that Newcastle United represents the city. The “toon”. That’s what it’s about here, not simply money and trophies and that is what precious few people from outside the area over the years have been able to grasp.
Winning a cup would be great, the league even better but mostly we want to be entertained at the weekend. What Mike Ashley brought was a contentment to stay up, and that failed twice! He made Newcastle his own ATM. We have spent years as Sports Direct United or the Balance Sheet Champions and that is what we were not happy with.
Controversy also came regarding this proposed deal when Qatar-based beIN Sports registered an objection because the Saudi involvement in pirated TV content. It sort of read as “Hi Premier League, please don’t let this takeover happen by a country with a poor human rights record. Yours, Qatar, a country with a poor human rights record.”
The thing is, everything is relative. Do Newcastle fans automatically deserve more success than Scunthorpe? No. Do they automatically deserve less than Manchester City? Again, no.
We never truly know the worth of the people who bankroll us, so as fans should it matter who the owner is as long as the club remains relevant? In the case of Newcastle United, it needs to be relevant to this fan base and not to necessarily everyone else which is something it singularly failed to do under Mike Ashley and his acolytes.
The days are gone when this could be done with a Geordie chairman, a Geordie manager and a Geordie captain a la Shepherd, Robson and Shearer, so needs must.
Many, many times over in the last thirteen years Newcastle United fans have used phrases such as “if I didn’t laugh, I’d cry.” Now, it might just be their time to smile and they rightfully won’t care one jot where the money comes from to make it happen.
By Gary Christie, a freelance writer who as well as providing football content regularly provides pages for some of horse racing’s most prominent pages. Gary writes for TVG, the #1 wagering and horse racing network in the USA, as well as BreedersCup.com, Roger.com, Mr Green Casino and Casino Wings.