The Newcastle United fanbase is often divided on many big topics, and the latest one is whether or not this lingering Saudi takeover is going to be resurrected.
Some say it’s dead, ‘move on’, while others harbour real hope that the consortium haven’t gone anywhere and will eventually find a way to complete a £300m deal.
On that subject, there’s been two reports emerge over the past 24 hours that suggest the latter is still very possible, with the Shields Gazette’s Liam Kennedy and Daily Mail’s Matt Hughes sharing a few potentially promising updates.
Here’s the first from Liam Kennedy, who claims that both Mike Ashley and the Saudi consortium share “growing optimism” that a deal can still go ahead in the “not too distant future”, insisting that “things are moving” behind the scenes:
“There is growing optimism on both the buyer and seller side that this deal can be done – and can be done in the not too distant future. Of course, that must be caveated with the notion that previous positivity has counted for nothing.
“Things are moving. That’s the positive to take away from all of this. The arbitration hearing is looming large in the foreground and a route to doing a deal being potentially presented to the consortium lies on the horizon. Will we ever reach that far? I am hopeful – and this is no blind optimism – but by the same token it is understandable many remain sceptical.“
This sounds good and gives you that glimmer of hope, however it also sounds very similar to what we were reading last summer – and look what actually happened to the ‘imminent’ deal over the second half of 2020!
Reasons for this new found ‘optimism’ aren’t declared by Kennedy, but one development that has regularly been described as ‘significant’ are the Middle East movements that have seen Saudi Arabia end its blockade of Qatar.
The Mail’s Matt Hughes has added to this by claiming that beIN Sports – the Qatar-based Premier League partners who strongly opposed the deal last year – have now held ‘positive talks’ with members of the Saudi government about lifting their broadcasting ban.
Here’s a snippet from Hughes’ piece, which suggests these talks could ‘help revive’ the PIF’s dormant takeover bid:
Broadcaster beIN Sports have held positive talks with the Saudi Arabian government about lifting their ban on broadcasting there — which could help revive the Public Investment Fund’s proposed takeover of Newcastle that was blocked by the Premier League last summer.
The Premier League is beIN Sports’ biggest offering and they extended their contract for the Middle East and North Africa region in a £367m deal last month, despite currently having their signalled blocked in Saudi Arabia.
Saudi’s decision to end their three-year blockade of Qatar earlier this month has led to progress in the long-running TV dispute, however, and a return to legal broadcasting would remove a key part of the Premier League’s opposition to the Newcastle bid.
A significant step? Fake news? False hope? Who knows.
I’d rather read positive reports than damning ones insisting it’s completely off, however I may be one of many NUFC fans who’ll refuse to ever get completely carried away by this again after the painful and ultimately draining rollercoaster it sent us on in 2020!