Former NUST chairman Neil Mitchell has offered a brilliant view from the Middle East on Amanda Staveley’s attempt to takeover at NUFC, suggesting why a deal could be further down the line than we currently realise.
Neil is a Newcastle United fan currently living and working out in the Middle East, however he is no stranger to Dubai-based business deals and Mike Ashley – having dealt with the NUFC owner after playing a prominent role in previous fan takeover campaign put to the club several years ago.
Here’s some key snippets of Neil’s piece in The Chronicle yesterday, starting him revealing that former NUFC Chairman Chris Mort is playing a part in the deal himself – something he believes could be beneficial factor in sealing a deal:
“Interestingly it appears that the PCP Capital legal team is from Freshfields – a name we should be familiar with as one of the partners there is Chris Mort, who is no stranger to Newcastle United.
“I see this as a good thing myself. Firstly, he was one of the few appointees of Mike Ashley who came away with his reputation intact and who did develop a positive rapport with the fans. Many were disappointed when he moved on for personal reasons but he remains a fan of NUFC to this day, I understand.
“More importantly he knows the club and its culture and most certainly he will know how to deal with Mike Ashley. This is critical because he may just know the right button to push that could seal the deal.”
Neil then revealed why he believes Staveley and PCP have leverage in the deal like no other potential buyer has had in the past, also admitting that Ashley will have no choice but to invest in the squad in January if a takeover is not completed by then – stating he is not reckless enough to ‘jeopardise the value of the asset’ (e.g. fail to improve our squad, huff Benitez, risk our league position getting worse/relegation and, in the process, off-put potential buyers):
“I am sure she would be very willing to allow Rafa Benitez to add significantly to the squad should he feel the need. I also feel that Mr Ashley is not reckless enough to not to allow Rafa to strengthen if the deal is not concluded before January.
“This, if talks were still ongoing, would almost certainly weaken his hand. To jeopardise the value of the asset by allowing it to be relegated for a third time under his tenure as owner would be financial suicide. He is a gambler and a risk taker but surely even he must realise the folly of not protecting the asset he is in the process of selling?
“For me overall it is this situation – with January looming and other factors such as the pending HMRC case – that gives potential buyers the sort of leverage that no one who has previously tried to buy the club have had.
“This desire on both sides could just be the key to making the process smooth once exclusivity is entered.”
Some very interesting points raised that here.
Ashley may have been reluctant to back Benitez in recent windows, but this time it’d be for a totally different cause. If a takeover was still in the pipeline over January but we failed to improve our squad and saw our league form suffer as a result, could a potential buyer fear relegation and walk away from the deal? Most definitely – and given Ashley wants out, it’s in his interest to protects the asset he is looking to sell.
With this in mind, the potential of January spending and the pending HMRC case could make Ashley reduce his asking price in a bid to get out while he has genuine and willing buyers?
Finally Neil ended on an intriguing note, stating that he believes a deal is at more of an advanced stage than we perhaps realise:
“I believe that as I write the deal is further on than we realise. I believe that this will happen.”
An intriguing view point which should give you some renewed optimism as we await a potential improved offer Staveley and PCP.