If you have spent any time in the Middle East you will be familiar with the word “insha’allah”.
It literally means “God willing”. There’s a chance you might be hearing that word quite a bit soon.
I’m sure we were all taken somewhat aback when we logged on to the story circulating that Abu Dhabi’s Royal family are trying to add another Premiere League club to their collection. Sheikh Khaled Bin Zayed Al Nahyan is reportedly on the verge of taking over the Toon for a fee of 350 million pounds. Mere pocket change to him. Never have I wanted the Sun to get something right, so much, in my entire life.
Assuming this is pukka and not just a disgruntled Mackem prank, or an Ashley ploy to sell season tickets, how would it go?
While I may have (deliberately at times) wound up many of you with my views on our current owner, our manager and the style of football we (fail to) play, having spent 25 of the last 31 years of my life in Abu Dhabi, it behooves me to enlighten the fans as to what will probably happen if this deal goes through.
First of all, while everyone is familiar with Dubai, it’s Abu Dhabi that is the Capital of the United Arab Emirates; it’s Abu Dhabi that has the oil; it’s Abu Dhabi that has the money. So Dubai may be flash, but Abu has the cash.
The Al Nahyan’s are the ruling family of Abu Dhabi with a wealth of anywhere from 200 to 300 billion dollars depending who you believe. Personally, I’d say whatever number you choose will be miles off because there isn’t a global financial tracking system anywhere that can cope with a UAE accountant.
Despite the stories circulating, Khaled bin Zayed Al Nahyan is not the cousin of Manchester City owner Sheikh Mansour, he is the brother, or more accurately the half brother. Simple stuff – both are “bin Zayed” which means both are “son of Zayed”, just with a different mother.
As with most Arab countries the UAE is all about image. It’s about showing the world that you’re the best.
The worlds tallest building; fastest police cars; gold vending machines; an 11 million pound number plate; your name engraved in your own desert island in letters so big they can be seen from space; the first carbon-neutral city; the most expensive Christmas tree; the worlds fastest roller coaster. I could go on, and on, and on, and on.
I take it, dear readers, that you are starting to get your heads around their heads.
If I’d said the UAE doesn’t do things by halves, it wouldn’t come close to covering it.
Qatar, another oil rich and currently out of favour neighbor, bought PSG in 2011 and they have won the French league title for 6 of the past 7 years. Qatar Airways sponsors Barcelona to the tune of around 30 million a year, and Barca aint doing too badly either.
Let’s not forget that Qatar will also shortly be putting on possibly the best World Cup that money can buy!
In 2008 Sheikh Mansour bought Citeh and turned them into the force they are now using the Roman Abramovic Business Model, also known as “chuckin’ money at it”.
Can we expect the same kind of investment in Newcastle United if the deal goes through? Certainly. If Khaled is buying the club it’s for one reason and one reason only – to make it the best. Our best hope is that he’s had a fall-out with Mansour and is out to prove a point. And let’s not forget it’s a bargain at that price! Khaled will think in dollars, and thanks to the Brexit farce the pound has collapsed more spectacularly than our defence, 1-0 up with minutes to go.
So what could we expect?
When Mansour bought City it was no surprise to see Etihad rolled out as a main sponsor. Financial Fair Play rules are so inconvenient these days saying that you can’t just keep ploughing your own money into the club without showing something for it, so rather than Mansour doing just that he graciously accepted a record breaking sponsorship deal (double the previous best) from Etihad Airways, which just happens to be “run” by one of his brothers. Financial Fair Play Rules satisfied; the sponsorship included renaming of the stadium.
In the UAE there are 3 massive government (wink, wink) owned institutions that would benefit from sponsoring a global football brand. They are Etihad Airways (currently with City), Emirates (currently with the Arse) and their national telecoms provider Etisalat. Despite the hype the story is that even the best efforts of their accountants can’t stop the two airlines going rapidly downhill (an unfortunate metaphor for an airline, I know), so the obvious choice would be for Etisalat – who are currently running a profit of around 10 billion quid a year- to step in as main “everything” sponsors.
So here’s a question – I know we didn’t really go for the St James’ Direct Wonga Sports Park thing, but for a 400 million investment would you be prepared to go watch our team play at the Etisalat Stadium?
I suspect there would still be a bit of Sports Direct advertising around the ground, but I think I could almost cope with that.
One thing that would not be left around the ground would be Lee Charnley. Our new owners would bring in their own GM and accounting team, and we’d be in profit inside a couple of weeks.
Would Rafa get the players he wants? And then some! They would immediately bring in 2 or even 3 so called “marquee” signings because they’d want to make an impact in every possible way and start selling those shirts. That’s how they do it.
Will Rafa be told he has to bring in big names even if they don’t suit his style?
If we don’t finish top 6 will Rafa be on his bike?
Will the FA sanction 2 EPL clubs being owned by brothers?
Would we start losing those players that are currently our heroes replaced by, well, there’s no other way to say it, decent ones?
Did I just eat some dodgy cheese last night and this is all a dream?
Abu Dhabi’s Ferrari World is home to Formula Rossa, the fastest roller coast on the planet. If this deal goes through Toon fans will be climbing onto that contraption to relax. It will be the same as Chelsea in 2003 and Citeh in 2008. We’ll be in for the ride of our lives, and Rafa, insha’allah, will be in the front seat.