According to The Guardian, the UK government are hopeful a £300m takeover on Tyneside can be resurrected.
Louise Taylor’s piece states that all three sides of the Saudi-backed consortium remain fully committed, with the PIF, Amanda Staveley and the Reuben Brothers still ‘extremely interested’ in buying the club and investing ‘hundreds of millions’ to regenerate the north-east.
In addition, it’s reported that ‘high-level intermediaries’ are now in the process of negotiating a potential compromise – something the government clearly supports.
That said, it seems the success or failure of any potential resurrection will almost certainly hinge on Mike Ashley’s legal case and arbitration hearing against the Premier League – something that’s believed to have made EPL chiefs ‘anxious’ according to ‘sources close to the failed deal’.
Here’s a snippet from The Guardian, which indicates that a hearing is most likely to take place at the start of 2021:
‘With Ashley keen to sell Newcastle for the agreed £300m and the consortium comprising Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, Reuben Brothers and Amanda Staveley still extremely interested in taking charge at St James’ Park, a hearing before an arbitration panel could conceivably take place before Christmas. In reality, the case’s currently slow progress indicates it is more likely to be held at some point in the new year.
‘In the statement Ashley suggested the Premier League and its lawyers, Bird and Bird, have not exactly been accelerating the process. “The club makes no comment on the substance of the arbitration but it can confirm that it has issued arbitration proceedings against the EPL,” said Newcastle’s statement. “It is unclear when those proceedings will be resolved, given the approach of the EPL and its lawyer, Bird and Bird. Nevertheless, the club will continue to use its best efforts to press for a fair, full and timely hearing of its claim.”
‘Any such process would require pre-hearing disclosure from both parties, and sources close to the failed deal suspect the Premier League is anxious to avoid the need to make such revelations.
‘Given that PIF had pledged to invest hundreds of millions of pounds in regenerating the north-east and is believed to remain committed to the idea of buying Newcastle, the UK government is understood to harbour hope that the takeover can be resurrected. Indeed high-level intermediaries are believed to be engaged in ongoing efforts to negotiate a compromise.
‘This year the Premier League spent 17 weeks pondering the takeover and, with no decision forthcoming, the consortium eventually withdrew its offer. Had the Premier League formally rejected the bid Ashley and the would-be buyers could have appealed. It did, however, reject an offer of independent arbitration from the Premier League in the summer.
‘The Premier League declined to comment. Bird and Bird was unavailable for comment.‘
All of the above certainly paints a picture that suggests this Saudi takeover isn’t dead and buried just yet, but it’s worth remembering that we’ve heard a lot of be ‘hopeful’ over the past seven or eight months – and look where we are now!
One thing’s for certain, however, I’d far rather see our willing seller and ‘extremely interested’ buyer keep pushing and pressurising the Premier League than give up.
After all, this is a deal that could transform our sleeping giant of a club and depleted region for many years to come.
This may not have the happy ending we all hope for, but it’s certainly worth fighting for!