Well it’s official. The English Premier League is back – and with that comes superstars, super teams and questions regarding each team’s future.
Newcastle United FC are finally changing ownership, as Mike Ashley ends his association with the club.
Ashley has managed to improve the club’s finances but his 13-year tenure was marred by many controversies and dissatisfaction among fans due to his lack of ambition and investment in the club.
However that shouldn’t be the case with the incoming owners, a consortium led by the Saudi Public Investment Fund, set to transform the Magpies into the richest club in the Premier League.
One of the most successful teams in the early years of the Premier League, finishing runners up twice and having one of the biggest names Alan Shearer, the Tyneside team achieved a lot before Ashley bought the club from John Hall and Freddy Shepherd in 2007 for a fee of £133 million.
The team was relegated in April 2009 for the first time since the inception of the Premier League but came back strong, topping the Championship next season and sealing their return to the top flight.
Their best time came in the 2011-12 season, when they finished fifth and booked their place in next season’s Europa Cup, where they lost to Benfica in the quarter-finals.
This merry time didn’t last too long, as the club was once again relegated in the 2015-16 season, even though Rafa Benitez was appointed manager in March 2016. However, under the experienced leadership of Benitez, the club returned to the Premier League the following season.
Still, the club faced two relegations and due to the lack of communication and a growing rift between the owner and the coaching staff, Benitez left the club before the start of this season.
It is no secret Ashley had been interested in selling the club for some time but the rumours regarding involvement of the Saudi Public Investment Fund emerged in January.
This deal will see the Saudi Public Investment Fund – led by Saudi crown prince Mohammad Bin Salman – own an 80 per cent stake in the club, which will also make Newcastle United the third club in Europe to be owned by an influential Middle Eastern royal family.
The other 20 per cent stake will be evenly owned by Amanda Staveley through her investment firm PCP Capital Partners, which played a major role in Sheikh Mansour’s acquisition of Manchester City in 2008, and the Reuben brothers, who are the second-richest buisness family in the United Kingdom.
It is said Ashley has been holding out for £340 million, but apparently £300 million shall just be enough to get the deal over the line.
However, Amnesty International and other international organisations have condemned the deal because of the poor record Saudi Arabia holds when it comes to human rights, which might be a major obstacle.
Although there is a lot for Newcastle fans to look up to if the deal goes through, with talk Mauricio Pochettino will be appointed manager and Edison Cavani will join after his contract with Paris Saint-Germain expires this summer.
We have seen over the past decade what teams like Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain can do with the right financial backing, and with the Saudi Public Investment Fund valued at around $320 billion, Newcastle can become one of the best in Europe.