According to the Chronicle, the Bin Zayed Group’s prospective takeover of Newcastle United has ‘stalled’ – with the club now focusing on the appointment of Rafa Benitez’s replacement and transfers.
Mark Douglas insists in his latest piece that BZG are yet to begin the owners and director’s tests – despite them claiming they have – with him stating that any deal is not close to completing.
As a result, it looks like Mike Ashley and co. have now prioritised the appointment of a new manager, with them preparing to make transfer moves once Rafa’s replacement is secured.
Sadly, it looks like it’s Bruce they’re targeting. An uninspiring option which really would sum up the absolutely shambolic summer we’ve endured up until now.
Here’s an extract from the Chronicle’s damning new piece, covering a takeover, our move for Bruce and transfers:
The Bin Zayed Group’s prospective takeover of Newcastle United has stalled, with the Magpies now in the later stages of their managerial hunt and prepared to move on transfers when that is completed.
United have issued a blanket no comment on the Bin Zayed Group interest since their interest first broke at the end of May and have maintained that policy through the summer. The group, however, have issued two official statements and have continued to insist they are pressing on with the takeover and have ticked all the boxes required.
But the £350million deal – despite extensive talks, a Head of Terms agreement and some background work being completed – is not understood to be close to completion.
The Dubai-based group did not respond to requests to verify a statement posted on social media and attributed to the group on Monday. But it’s understood that despite the group’s claims they aren’t in the owners and director’s tests which would be required to rubber stamp the takeover process and hand Sheikh Khaled Bin Zayed control of affairs at St James’ Park.
It should be stressed there are other parties talking to Newcastle but with just four weeks until the start of the season – and barring a dramatic development in the coming days – it now raises the prospect of no change of ownership in time to impact on this season.
Instead it could drag into the campaign with potential for other interested parties to come back to the table with Ashley lowering the price based on the potential risk of relegation. The alternative – that Ashley takes the club off the market – was raised last year but the owner seems reluctant to do that for now, and Newcastle must be braced for a furious fan backlash after a summer of discontent on Tyneside.
If there is no buy-out the club will rightly face questions about their internal due diligence process , which was supposed to vet potential groups who reached the advanced stages of negotiations. After Amanda Staveley and Peter Kenyon both failed to back up their bid with proof of funds or an acceptable bid, the club said they had put a process in place to avoid a repeat – but Bin Zayed’s bid has also been far from straightforward after a flurry of activity early in the summer.
Ashley’s fixer Justin Barnes is understood to have a influential role in takeover negotiations.
After Rafa Benitez’s departure Newcastle are now widely believed to be targeting Steve Bruce, the Sheffield Wednesday manager, in a reflection of their desire to bring in someone with Premier League experience , broad enough shoulders to withstand the criticism and who can act as steadying influence in the dressing room.
But that is unlikely to pacify supporters and for all Bruce’s experience, his potential appointment will continue a logic-defying summer from the Magpies. Bruce is certainly no Joe Kinnear – players like him and his managerial CV is solid enough – but for a Premier League club who have just had one of the elite coaches in world football, it is a massive gamble to bring in someone that supporters will question from the off.
In order to get a Visa for the Premier League’s Asia Trophy, the club will need to appoint in the next few days.
The club will also start to move on transfers when a manager is appointed. They need to replace Salomon Rondon, Ayoze Perez and Mo Diame simply to stand still next season.
To think at one stage this summer we hoped for Rafa, a takeover, Rondon to sign and a real show of ambition to follow.
Instead we could be left with Bruce, Ashley, no goalscorers and no hope.