Dubai-based columnist and former NUST member Neil Mitchell has shared a fascinating insight into the latest takeover saga, insisting that Peter Kenyon’s interest was serious – but Mike Ashley’s greed may have got in the way yet again.
His piece highlights that a ‘well-placed source’ told him just a ‘few weeks ago’ that Kenyon’s team were inside the club and asking the sort of questions that suggested ‘something big was under way’.
As we know, nothing has come of it as of yet and any talk of a takeover has well and truly died down – with us STILL awaiting a statement from Ashley to enlighten us.
Here’s what Mitchell’s had to say during his insightful piece in the Chronicle today:
Word from a well-placed source reached me a few weeks ago that not only was the interest from Peter Kenyon genuine but that accountants and lawyers were in the club and over the course of four or five days asking the kind ‘of questions, both operationally and financially, that seemed to hint something big was under way.
‘Hopes rose and then once again, silence, followed by the bizarre letter leaked to the press and a statement suggesting Mr Kenyon was £100million short. Then we hear he was crowdfunding. Then he was allegedly £200million. It was all curious, to say the least!
‘Now we still await a further statement from Ashley as the drip drip torture of uncertainty continues and the wheels of the PR team’s of the respective players slowly turn.
‘My take? I believe there was genuine interest. I certainly don’t think this was part of an elaborate hoax. I do believe, however, that after a period of investigation Mr Kenyon’s team came to the same conclusion others have: Mike Ashley has significantly overvalued the club whilst continuing to harm his asset by running it like a ghost ship.
‘The letter and press statements all seem like yet another attempt to cast doubts on the credibility of a potential buyer and to deflect from Mr Ashley’s consistent failings and overvaluation of Newcastle United.
‘If however, Mr Kenyon is indeed after an investor with that sort of cash at hand, I do know someone who could help in that regard. Give me a call I’ll pass you his details…
‘After a further suggestion that Mr Kenyon’s consortium is trying to get another interested party involved in a joint bid we are now back where we were last year: a ‘frustrated’ Mike Ashley “giving up’ on the chances of a sale. One common denominator? Fool us once, Mr Ashley, shame on us. Fool us twice? You can draw your own conclusion.’
Mitchell then looked into the financial side of any takeover in a little more depth, revealing that it would be a £500m plus investment to both buy Newcastle United and then have us competing with mid-table Premier League sides:
‘Running figures around with someone I know very well here in Dubai who was involved in another unsuccessful takeover attempt a few years ago, just to continue the running theme, we came to the conclusion any investors who want to buy NUFC are looking at needing a war chest of around £500million, and that’s assuming you can get the club for this person’s estimated current value of £250million to £280million.
‘He believes this is what Peter Kenyon thought he would be able to get the club for. The level of investment needed in the team as it stands – along with the training ground, Academy and infrastructure needs – means anyone buying has to make significant investment just to catch up with mid-tier Premier League teams.
‘So when someone is dismissed as ‘penny pinching’ or are told ‘just pay the extra to get rid of Ashley’, you have to factor this in alongside Mr Ashley’s over-valuation. When you do that it is clear that it is the owner who still remains the biggest hurdle when it comes to any sale, and will do anything he can to embarrass a potential buyer if they won’t play his game.’
The first sentence of the last line is quite significant. It’s easy for us to sit here and ask the likes of Staveley and Kenyon to just ‘pay up’ and match Ashley’s price to get it over and done with, but this is a matter of millions (where huge investment is needed after the deal is done), not a matter of pounds and pence.
Takeover talk has become tedious at best, but this is a brilliant insight from Mitchell and a closer look at the latest saga that failed to materialise.
We live in hope – but certainly not in expectation after countless failed ‘attempts’ to sell from Ashley over the past few years.