Former owner Sir John Hall has had his say on a potential takeover at Newcastle United this week, revealing just why his beloved club is such an attractive proposition – and what any new owner would have to do to make us big again.
The 84-year old Geordie spent 15 years at the helm on Tyneside, taking us within reach of the Premier League title during the 1995-1996 season – an era fondly remembered and famously known for Kevin Keegan’s ‘Entertainers’.
Following Ashley’s decision to officially put the club up for sale on Monday, Sir John has explained just why the club is an ‘attractive’ proposal for any buyer, but has reiterated his desire to see it go to a group who have the wealth and ambition to give it the success it deserves.
Here’s his full interview with The Sun this week, where he talks about what the right takeover could mean for the club he still ‘loves’, for Rafa Benitez, and for our long wait for silverware:
“IF I was coming into football now, I would jump at the chance of taking control of Newcastle.
It is such an attractive proposition. Newcastle have a tradition and a heritage, but they also have a potential that has not been fully realised.
In the recent past we have always been the bridesmaid rather than the bride and new owners can change that — if they are prepared to invest.
We have not won a major domestic honour since 1955. Yet you could put in an extra 10,000 seats at St James’ Park and we’d sell every one.
It seems that Mike Ashley wants about £350million. But if you are going to extend the stadium, then you need to think about the millions that will cost and you will also have to put in money for players.
Manchester United are now worth more than a billion and the rest of the top five or six must be worth £600m to a billion.
Newcastle have the potential to move up to that level. But you have to stay with it because it will take a good few years to compete with the top clubs. You are talking about a five-year period.
I hope that when things fall into place again off the field, we can be up there challenging for honours again.
If I was a billionaire with age on my side, I would certainly have a go at it.
Newcastle are a world- renowned brand name and there is a loyal following not just on Tyneside, not just in the UK, but worldwide, which we have never capitalised on. With the right level of investment they have the potential to be one of the top clubs in Europe.
Sir John then commented on the need for new owners to show intent and bring silverware back to the club, admitting that an ambitious new owner would keep Benitez on Tyneside and, with that, get the fans on their side:
Winning that elusive bit of silverware has to be the intent.
I really thought that under Ashley, United would win a trophy but it wasn’t to be. When he fell out with the fans, that spoilt things. But somebody coming up and getting the fans on their side over ten years could change all that.
Having a good manager is invaluable to a football club and luckily enough Newcastle have one of the best in the business in Rafa Benitez.
I’m sure he would stay put if a new owner came in because it looks like he is putting his heart and soul into the club.
The club means the world to me. Things have changed out of all recognition since owners like me, Jack Walker and Dave Whelan — local millionaires who stood on the terraces as boys, built up our businesses and put money back in.
People coming into football now are usually only in it for the money. But investors will be businessmen who take a gamble — and I think Newcastle is a deal that is bound to pay dividends on and off the field.”
Some inspiring words from the ex-NUFC owner here – a man who knows what it takes to bring success to the club.
Talk of a takeover is intensifying by the day. Let’s hope the group that does replace Mike Ashley can show the sort of ambition Sir John and all us fans so badly desire.
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About Olly Hawkins
Olly has been a Junior Magpie from birth. As a season ticket holder and avid Newcastle United fan - he eats, sleeps and breathes all things NUFC.