I am sure like most Newcastle fans, last night was a mixture of excitement and apprehension as news broke of a bid finally emerging from PCP Capital partners. So just where do we stand and what time frames can we expect?
Sky News first reported yesterday evening that a bid of around £300 million had been lodged by the group fronted by Amanda Staveley. Despite talk of four or five groups being interested and in the due diligence phase, it has been apparent (from press reporting anyway) that it is PCP who are the frontrunners. Of course mass excitement followed as it is the news we have all been waiting for – our preferred new owner tabling an offer that made completion before the January transfer window seem very possible.
Sky Sports then covered the story too as it gathered momentum. It is so important to Newcastle fans as finally having a world class manager, we need a new owner to keep him long term and also; provide Rafa with the investment he needs to push the club on. However, in true Newcastle style, counter claims were quick to surface…
The counter claims that soon followed
Those were that, within hours, the bid was not actually £300m – more around £280m. It’s also stated that this would include certain clauses, payment structures AND a request for compensation IF we were to be relegated this season.
This is below Ashley’s asking price and reports emerge this morning that the offer has in fact been rejected. Along with the price, Ashley is believed to be unhappy with the structure of the deal; mainly that instalments are subject to us staying up. Ashely stipulated he would accept staggered payments but clearly does not want them attached the targets – ironic really, as that has how he has insisted on all player bonus terms since arriving at SJP.
The main concern from fans in all this is the fact that we have been here before when Ashley tried to sell in 2009. Quite rightly, there are plausible worries that he may not sell or ask for too much and scupper the deal. I guess only time will tell but let’s hope he is serious this time.
Why news is good news
On this occasion, I think any news is actually good news. After being burnt before from Ashley, it is easy to feel sceptical about his intentions and these fresh reports. I think the context of the ‘bid’ is important though. This has come after weeks of non-discourse agreements and a due diligence process.
This means a few things – initial pricing discussions, however informal, must have taken place before now. So even if the first bid is rejected, it is usual in negotiation that you don’t go in with your best offer straight away. They can’t be a million miles away, otherwise why go through weeks of talks and looking at NUFC’S accounts?
Secondly, the due diligence must have went well for PCP to put a bid in. This means they are happy with the state of our accounts (Ashley famously bought the club without checking them and didn’t account for vast amounts of player transfer fee debt!) Furthermore, as fans we are all worried about the looming HMRC case hanging over us. PCP will have done their homework and this may suggest, merely by still going ahead with the bid, they are not too concerned about the outcome of the case against us. On the flip side, the case could be a contributing factor to their sub-£300m initial bid. We shall see, but these are all relevant factors.
What can we expect next?
More positive news today has emerged after the twists and turns of last night’s developments. A fresh, higher bid is expected from PCP and this week following Sky Sports’ claim that both parties ‘remain convinced’ that a deal can be struck.
The process of takeover is always non-disclosure agreements, due diligence, bid/agreeing a price, the FA ratifying the change in ownership. With this in mind, it appears we are progressing through these stages at a good rate.
The bid stage is being played through the press, which may be a negotiating tactic from either or both PCP/Ashley. After all, tens of millions are at stake here.
The main thing is that there is news, some form of progression and finally some urgency to get this done before the Christmas deadline.
Let’s hope a deal is struck soon!