Manchester United are braced to have another new incredibly powerful competitor fighting for the Premier League title.
It was announced on Wednesday afternoon that Newcastle were on the brink of a takeover by a Saudi Arabian-financed consortium for £300m; the deal is set to potentially make Newcastle one of Europe’s richest and most powerful clubs, and the paperwork has moved fast.
Premier League lawyers were understood to be frantically working on approving the takeover on Wednesday night and it’s now understood that an official announcement is imminent — the takeover is said to be done after Saudi piracy issues were quashed.
The deal, which is backed the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund PIF, will put an end to Mike Ashley’s 14-year ownership of the North East club in which he oversaw two relegations and results that were a far cry away from Newcastle’s iconic battles with United in the 90s when Kevin Keegan’s ‘entertainers’ sought to compete with Sir Alex Ferguson’s Reds.
The sovereign wealth fund PIF are said to be worth £320billion, which makes them roughly 13 times richer than Man City’s owners.
Newcastle were no longer a threat to United under Mike Ashley, however, the news of their takeover could drastically change that.
Any resurgence from Newcastle after their new mega-rich owners take charge will be slow. however, and will take place over the coming years because of financial fair play. Investment in the club’s outdated infrastructure and facilities will be required.
It is understood the new owners intend to turn Newcastle into a ‘global brand’ and that PIF will hope to invest £50million per transfer window in squad improvement, but an immediate, significant chunk of investment simply won’t be possible under new rules.
UEFA’s FFP ensures clubs need to balance their football-related outgoings, like transfers and wages, with broadcast revenue and ticket income plus revenue streams generated by commercial departments — the latter in particular will be the key to Newcastle.
Under Ashley, the club has stagnated commercially and securing new lucrative deals will be the key if the new Saudi owners want to invest heavily, as any transfer fees will need to be balanced by club revenue, which means their progress won’t be immediate.
The nearest Newcastle have come to winning the Premier League was in the 1995/96 season when Keegan’s side squandered their 12-point lead to finish second to a youthful United team that was propelled to the title under Ferguson by the Class of ’92.
Magpies’ supporters will be hoping for a return of those ‘glory years’ and, while they’re not an immediate threat to United after the takeover, or a complete guarantee, Newcastle could well be be competing regularly for major honours again in the future, which isn’t good news for United.
It was heavily raining when United completed an emphatic 4-1 win at St. James’ Park a year ago.
Regardless of the weather when United visit next, the mood at the club will be entirely different as a new era is ushered in.