The day that many Newcastle United fans had been dreaming about finally arrived on Thursday, as it was revealed that Mike Ashley’s 14-year tenure as owner of the club was finally over. It’s worth mentioning that the deal that saw the Public Investment Fund take over 80% of the shares for £305 million isn’t one that has gone down well on all corners of the world.
Amnesty International looked to block the move due to the well-reported concerns with human rights issues in Saudi Arabia. However, those pleas for the Premier League to test ‘human rights issues’ when assessing suitability fell on deaf ears, and the move was officially completed, making the Magpies, with the Public Investment Fund’s £250 billion purses, one of the richest clubs in the world of soccer.
Fans Rejoice At Long-Awaited Takeover
To understand how this went down in Newcastle, you must first understand just what the sport means in the great city. Newcastle United Football Club isn’t like any other team in the world, it is situated in the middle of the city, with the club being the heartbeat.
Fans that have grown up watching the Toon treat it as more of a religion than a club. Results have a huge impact on mood, more so than any other team in world sport. Mike Ashley’s tenure in control of Newcastle wasn’t a successful one, and fans have been boycotting games and protesting to get the businessman out of the club for the best part of ten years.
Ashley has overseen two relegations to the Championship, and poor performances on the pitch, as profits and finances of the club were more important than success. However, this is fresh dawn for Newcastle, and excitement levels of fans were evident into the early hours of the morning in the United Kingdom, as supporters celebrated outside St James’ Park (re-named Sports Direct Arena by Ashley).
Further excitement could be seen by the fact that the Toon’s next Premier League home fixture against Tottenham Hotspur after the international break quickly sold out. But, what happens next?
Success Is The Target
In her first address to the club’s fans, Amanda Staveley, who fronted the bid, has offered fans hope that the new owners plan to bring success to St James’ Park. That could still be some way away, as Newcastle hasn’t won a major trophy since their FA Cup success in 1955.
The first objective will be to maintain their Premier League status this season. Money will be available to spend in January to help achieve that goal, but current coach Steve Bruce may be lucky to make it to that point.
The new owners have already revealed that they are looking for a new manager to lead the club, and Bruce is already heavily odds-on to be the next manager to leave his post. Current front-runners for the job include Liverpool great Steven Gerrard, Chelsea legend Frank Lampard, and Serie A and Premier League-winning manager Antonio Conte.
Certainly, similarities will be made between the Newcastle takeover and that of Manchester City in 2008. Next summer will be a big one for the Magpies, as they will look to bring in talent that can help them move up the league standings quickly. Players such as Philippe Coutinho, Raheem Sterling, and Eden Hazard have already been linked with St James’ Park over the past 24 hours.
However, as City showed when they were taken over, the right talent needs to be brought to take the club forward. Either way, it couldn’t be a more exciting time to be a Newcastle fan, as the future looks incredibly bright and the long wait for a piece of silverware could be soon over.