Not one season of Mike Ashley’s 13-year ownership of Newcastle United has passed without some form of controversy, drama or humiliation. While the occasional relegation battle – usually won, but twice lost under Ashley – has been the main source of this, various attempts to sell the club have also created such narratives. Five takeover bids, all of which failed, stand out as particularly memorable.
Back in September 2008, as Manchester City began life under the all-changing ADUG, Newcastle were rumoured to be in talks with another Emirati buyer for a deal worth around $860m. It would, however, prove to be little more than an exercise in provoking Liverpool then-owners into selling up.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s real intention was the purchase of Liverpool. However, it never happened, and there were ultimately no winners here.
Regardless of how advanced formal talks (if any) were, the timing of this ploy could hardly have been worse. By this time, fans were in uproar over Newcastle’s dismal start to 2008/09, and Kevin Keegan – the man who served so well under Sir John Hall in the 1990s – had resigned.
Graham Roberts / Fanbase 410
Back in 2009, as the club was reeling after its first relegation from the Premier League, former Spurs man Graham Roberts fronted a consortium that would enable fans to buy shares and essentially run the club. The entire project was doomed from the start, and nothing other than Roberts’ declarations was ever tabled.
If nothing else, Roberts earned top marks for ambition, stating: “It is more for the fans really. We want to get the fans involved, we want to be like a Barcelona or Real Madrid and take the club forward so they can get involved”
The autumn of 2019 saw Kenyon linked with Newcastle. Though popularly portrayed as a figure of controversy, there have been notable victories in his past roles as the chief executive of Manchester United and Chelsea.
Most significantly, Kenyon is identified as the key influence behind Sir Alex Ferguson’s decision to stay at Old Trafford beyond 2002 – and scoop six more Premier League titles. Even now, United are still worthy title contenders, and those that check here can see their latest outright odds, and how they starkly compare to Newcastle’s.
Fronting a bid of £300m from GACP Capital on 25 September 2019, Kenyon would have been hoping to draw on his negotiation skills to get the deal over the line. Yet, with further investment from the US still pending at the time, no deal was ever completed.
Bin Zayed Group
Last summer was dubbed the ‘summer of discontent’ with the fitful, and ultimately failed takeover from the Bin Zayed Group (BZG) distracting the Magpies from doing purposeful business in several departments.
The trouble began in June 2019, when Ashley blamed BZG for the out-of-contract Rafael Benitez’ departure from the club. As their true intentions remained unclear, the deal eventually became too complicated to entertain any further.
Ultimately, the BZG deal’s collapse is a moral lesson to all other would-be takeover specialists, that clarity from the very outset – and only fully-warranted mass publicity – is absolutely crucial.
The news of Saudi PIF’s failure came through on 30 July, with Premier League chief executive Richard Masters explaining the situation as it stood on the morning of that pivotal day. While this rejection is said to be based on commonly-held corporate ethics, Masters has stated that this is not the case.
According to various sources, a revised package from Saudi PIF will be considered. Yet, regardless of the Saudi PIF’s next move, there will be no Bale, Coutinho or Cavani in the famous black and white stripes next term.
With an uncertain short-term future again on the Newcastle agenda, the culture of hatred towards Ashley will only reach a newly-intense high, especially once the Magpies faithful are able to return to St James Park.