This really is the takeover saga that won’t end, and it has been as heartbreaking and frustrating as supporting us in recent times. However it seems to be entering what surely is set to be the final act.
After weeks of tentative rumours that Mike Ashley was considering legal action against the Premier League for their failure to wave through the takeover, it was confirmed that not only is that the case, he has gone all out and essentially hired the finest legal minds money can buy.
In case you’ve been living under a rock for the last few days, Ashley has hired Shaheed Fatima QC and Nick De Marco QC from Blackstone Chambers, who surely need no introduction as the “Lionel Messi of Sports Law”.
This news has been met with optimism amongst Newcastle fans, and so it should, because even if it doesn’t push the takeover through, it surely will give us a definitive answer why it can’t be.
If the latest developments conclude in the takeover being blocked for perfectly sound legal reasons, wether it be human rights, piracy, shadow directors or whatever, I think we’ll all be able to draw a line under it. We can accept it, and over time understand that the deal was never right for us or indeed any other Premier League club.
As it stands, I think it’s fair to say that the main cause of anger and frustration amongst Newcastle fans in the aftermath of the collapse, other than Ashley still being the owner, is the potential sense of injustice. That we are being cheated out of a potentially transformative change, and that we may or may not be the victims of more sinister goings on.
One such suggestion by Staveley herself was that the Premier League don’t want another club potentially dining at the top table, and that the elite clubs hold too much influence. There has been the suggestion by many that the possibility of Qatari influence (or in fact money) is affecting the decision due to something bigger than BeIN Sports and piracy, as it’s fair to say our club and indeed the Premier League are caught up in a geopolitical infowar that simply dwarfs football, and should have no place in it either.
Then is also the frankly ridiculous situation involving Amanda Staveley’s ongoing court case with Barclays. In case you aren’t aware what is going on, in layman’s terms in sounds beyond dodgy.
A woman trying to buy 10% of our football club, and backed by Saudi investment, is currently suing the Premier League’s main sponsor for financial irregularities from several years ago. That said sponsor was bailed out of a major financial crisis by the Qatar banks. If the Saudi/Qatari link wasn’t contentious enough, the CEO of Barclays Bank at the time this whole drama unfolded, was Gary Hoffman, who is now employed by the Premier League, and is on the board which decides wether or not the sale goes through. On top of that, he officially started working for the Premier League AFTER the sale was agreed and the owners and directors test started. Oh, and he happens to be good mates with BeIN Sports’ lead presenter Richard Keys, who since the threat of legal action has been mentioned, has deleted all his tweets in which he boasts about his relationship with Hoffman.
I mean, let’s be honest, if this was a TV drama and De Marco and Fatima were the lead roles, we’d be screaming at the TV to them to start there.
So here we are in truly uncharted waters. One where Newcastle fans, who have seen an owner with only pound signs in his eyes and vindictiveness in his heart, rip the soul out of our club for 13 years. Now it seems we’re relying on that very greed and vindictiveness to push this through. 2020 it seems is indeed a year we’ll never forget, that’s for sure.
The theory crafting on the reasons and outcomes has already started, of course. So too has the back tracking from some who were skeptical from the start, as has caution from the eternal optimists. There are theories it will never get to court and the PL will settle to avoid further digging. Others have said this is what the PL want so they can pass it without incurring the anger of the elite or BeIN Sports. Some say Ashley is paving the way for the consortium, others say he’s doing it for compensation. There are going to be MENA TV rights contracts at stake, WTO reports to consider, ITK accounts to surface and more confusing opinions to mull over.
Maybe there is nothing in any of them. Or maybe one of them is going to unravel everything. If this whole ridiculous saga has taught us anything it’s that no one has a clue about anything except the people close to the deal. One thing is for certain is that the appointment of messers De Marco and Fatima has ensured this is now box office viewing, and maybe we should all get some popcorn.
I personally prefer the salted kind, and I’ll tell you what go well with salted popcorn. Cans.