Newcastle’s business this summer has been put on ice until clarity is given over the club’s arbitration case with the Premier League.
That is the view of The Chronicle’s Mark Douglas, who expects us to have a good idea which way the legal proceedings – between NUFC and the Premier League – will go by early to mid-July.
Funds are expected to be limited this summer should a Saudi takeover be blocked once and for all, however there is a fear we’ll be left in limbo until a final decision is made.
Securing the signature of former loanee Joe Willock is high on fans’ agenda, with us also showing interest in Celtic centre-back Kristoffer Ajer, but Douglas believes we are set to see more idling until the case reaches its conclusion.
On the plus side, he feels new owners would act quickly and have time to strengthen should a deal be passed in the middle of July – giving them six weeks to sign – yet this timeframe could leave us scrambling if it’s Ashley, Bruce and the tiny budget he’s expected to be given if the Saudis are sent packing.
This is what he said while speaking to the Everything Is Black And White Podcast, feeling we need to be making transfer moves now, not later, to avoid losing ground on our rivals:
“Newcastle haven’t got any deals in the pipeline, we sort of know that.
“Last year they had Jeff Hendrick pretty much wrapped up very early.
“This summer, they’ll look to move one or two on but I don’t think there is necessarily a desperate need to do something before arbitration starts, it just depends how long that period goes on for after that.
“You’re looking at a situation where arbitration could go on for a couple of weeks, you’re there in the middle of July and teams will have started to strengthen.
“I think we’ll have an idea of how arbitration goes sometime around the early part to mid-July.
“If that is the case, Newcastle can do stuff quickly if they are taken over.
“That would be Mike Ashley’s dream scenario but for me personally, I think they need to act like they are not going to be taken over and make those offers.”
It would be foolish for our recruitment setup not to have a contingency plan in the event of the takeover being rejected; by all accounts, Steve Bruce and his staff are preparing for next season without one, with cut-price deals and loans being touted.
Newcastle could be left rushing around like lunatics for new signings if Ashley is unexpectedly forced to remain in charge this summer – not a good look or a situation that lends itself to bargain buys; especially on a tight budget.
In this instance, you have to side with Ashley when it comes to keeping his wallet zipped. Nobody in their right mind would fork out £50million if the sale of the club is potentially imminent. That said, could we make signings now and strike an agreement with new owners that they’d cover the bill should we win our legal battle?
Who knows, but once again the timing of this all is once again to the detriment of Newcastle United’s fortunes.