If Mike Ashley manages to pull off the sale of Newcastle United to the Abu Dhabi Royal family he will have succeeded in performing what can only be described as a minor miracle, because Mike Ashley is everything that the Arab world finds repugnant.
Don’t think I’m saying that these guys don’t have the odd beer now and again, they can make The Who’s antics look like an Osmonds picnic, but lets just say that from a business point of view its fortunate he’s paying someone else to stand in front of the buyer and get the deal done.
This morning I spoke to a golf mate who runs the finances of one of the top 3 family groups in Abu Dhabi and he confirms the offer is genuine and agreement has been reached, and contrary to comments online, they’re a lot further on than just “agreeing a price”.
His words were along the lines of “it should go ahead no problem, but everyone knows what Ashley’s capable of.”
Back to the names – if Mansour is Mansour bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, and Khaled is the Khaled bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan who founded the Bin Zayed Group in 1988, then no matter what anyone else says they are half brothers – it’s in the name.
It is possible, however, that Bin Zayed Group may be playing “pass the parcel” trying to come up with an “owner” far enough removed from Mansour to make it acceptable to the FA / Premier League.
One problem that I’m sure has been handled with insufficient tact and diplomacy is asking him to provide “proof of funds”. Even handled correctly this would be considered extremely offensive.
Forget what you read – the Al Nahyan family is easily the wealthiest ON THE PLANET. Think 5 or 6 times the wealth of the UK Royal Family, and the Nahyans don’t even have any corgis.
‘Come on show us your bank statement so we know you can afford this.’ Yeah, right!
The Bin Zayed Group will have set about trying to find out as much about Ashley as they possibly can. Boy will they be surprised. The internet is awash with videos and stories of Mikey at his best, dancing half naked, throwing up in fireplaces and waging huge amounts of money on the turn of a card.
He is practically everything that is considered haram (forbidden) by Islam, wrapped up into one very offensive and slightly chubby package for convenience. Combine that with his outspoken, direct manner and his reputation for parking his tank on other people’s lawns and as I said earlier, if he gets a deal across the line it will be a miracle. On the plus side, they can’t help but admire him for getting away with his zero hours contracts, so a few Brownie points clawed back there.
Let’s not forget that during a drunken night out in Dubai Ashley is supposed to have insulted the Emirati people and Islam. The Emiratis have long memories and can afford to be stubborn. If that was true, the deal would not have made it to this point.
One thing to take into consideration is that we are into the last few days of Ramadan. and after Ramadan we are into Eid. Another 3 days, going on a week of celebration where traditionally Emiratis take a break with their families. Long story short, sod all gets done.
I’d hope things might be a bit more professional with the Bin Zayed Group, but don’t be surprised if nothing happens before the second week of June.
If the sale of Newcastle United goes through I’m sure we will see comments from Ashley telling us how well he did out of it, and how he knew what the club was worth all along. Sheikh Khaled and his Bin Zayed Group however, will ignore Ashley’s comments, invest in the club, and turn it into a leading global brand – something Ashley admits he doesn’t have the resources to do.
Welcome to the big boy’s table Mike!
In the end, for the club it will be a case of “light blue touch paper and stand well back”.
The only question left to be answered is “does anyone know where the key is for the trophy cabinet?”