Newcastle United Football Club today became the richest club on Planet Football after it was formally taken over by a consortium backed by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund involving Amanda Staveley and The Reuben brothers as the Geordie football club began the journey back to where it belongs competing in the very upper echelons of the football world.
The deal was confirmed by the club at 5.25pm on its social media channels and quickly filtered throughout the football world and beyond as fans took to St. James' Park in their thousands to celebrate a new era for Newcastle United after a whirlwind 24 hours.
Yesterday on what will be recognized as a historic day in Magpies folklore, news broke that Saudi Arabia had paid a billion dollars to Qatar's beIN sports as compensation for beoutQ illegal stream piracy in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and lifted beIN's five year bar ending a lengthy piracy dispute that had threatened to derail the takeover forever.
It meant that a major roadblock has been removed from the path of a complicated takeover deal that has been delayed but never denied since the story first emerged in The Financial Times in January 2020 but has become the longest running on-off saga in world football against a backdrop of Geordie fans storing celebratory #CANS to toast a new post Mike Ashley-era as the richest club on the planet.
Once that major impediment was resolved, a clear path to the takeover emerged that made arbitration & the CAT case unnecessary - clearly the result of backroom conversations and deals that may never see the light of day and the Premier League were quick to ratify the deal before a messy public court case could take place.
Events did transpire at a lightening pace as beIN's presenter Richard Keys predicted:
and the deal was officially announced on Thursday, October 21st 2021 along with this message from His Excellency Yasir Al-Rumayyan, Governor of the PIF:
Amanda Staveley, the financier who never gave up on the deal following her first public appearance at the match with husband, Mehrdad Ghodoussi, with Steve Wraith in 2017, guests of then manager Rafa Benitez, emerged triumphant from the Jesmond Dene Hotel near Newcastle and admitted ambitions to win the Premier League title and for Newcastle to be as big as Paris St. Germain in her first round of interviews:
Speculation continues whether the Saudi-financed consortium will take an all-guns-blazing Galactico-approach a la Man City or a more organic approach - Mehrdad Ghodoussi stressed "slow and steady" to excited fans today - but having paid a billion dollars just for the right to buy the club and complete the takeover, its unlikely money will be any object whatsoever to the 9th largest sovereign wealth fund in the world with assets of $430 billion that dwarf the combined wealth of the other 19 Premier League clubs put together and as Kevin Keegan said, once the momentum in Newcastle truly gets going, like a giant snowball it gets bigger and bigger and is difficult to stop :
After 14 years of life of cautious stewardship under Mike Ashley and only one Europa League campaign and EL Quarter Final under Alan Pardew to keep Newcastle's name continentally relevant on the pitch (although Rafa Benitez's name revived memories of past glories but he could only manage exact points parity with Steve Bruce and not stop one of two relegations to The Championship) there is great potential to be realised at St. James' Park to return to competing for the title & playing in The Champions League.
Due to Ashley's careful balancing of the books running the club as a business, the new owners inherit a very stable financial situation with £38M profit over the last three years so, crucially, the new consortium have the scope to spend big in line with Financial Fair Play requirements to the tune of £190M in the first year even before lucrative sponsorship deals, as per football finance expert Kieran Maguire:
Charged with the task of reviving the sleeping giant that is Newcastle United Football Club off the pitch are Non Executive Chairmen Yasir Al-Rumayyan, who is a driving force behind so much of Saudi Arabia's international business strategy, backed by two Non Executive Directors in Amanda Staveley and David Reuben, whose parts of the consortium PCP Capital and The Rebuen Brothers will each own 10% of the club with Saudi Arabia owning the majority 80% share.
It remains to be seen who will become the new Manager of the club should Head Coach Steve Bruce - whose team are currently winless & 19th in The Premier League - leave, those years of underachievement will soon be consigned to the history books as new ambitious owners in Town with detailed plans to revive not just the football club but the entire city itself with the Reuben brothers already owners of Newcastle racecourse and other developments in the city & whose generosity was shown when the Covid-19 pandemic broke out donating £36,000 to The West End FoodBank:
Its not all rosy in the garden with the human rights abuses of the Saudi regime certain to come under more scrutiny due to the spotlight of Premier League ownership and The Telegraph's Luke Edwards, a takeover sceptic whose 180 degree turn from a strong opinion the deal would never happen to certainty the deal was happening (the sea-change Newcastle fans needed to believe it was happening) said this on the subject:
Ex-Liverpool player Stan Collymore, whose winning goal in the Premier League's greatest ever game, the 4-3 at Anfield that practically dashed Newcastle's hopes of winning the Premier League title in 1996 warned people not to be hypocritical and set Newcastle apart as an example with Saudi business prevalent in all our lives.
When Sir John Hall took over Newcastle United in 1992 with Newcastle United second bottom of the old Second Division and heading to Third Division oblivion, it took four years for he and Kevin Keegan to transform the club into title contenders and history could be about to repeat itself although this time, Newcastle fans will be hoping and praying that the club goes that one step further and brings the success just missed out on by The Entertainers and become The Winners that the club & its fans deserve.