The deal is done, the ink is dry on the paperwork but the reality hasn’t sunk in for most Newcastle fans yet. They are now the richest club in the world.
After 14 years of meandering through the Mike Ashley tenure with no sense of hope or ambition, the promise of a brighter future looms on the horizon for the Geordie faithful.
Much has been made of the Saudi involvement in the deal with the PIF owning an 80 per cent stake in the club but for the purposes of this article I’ll be looking at this purely as a fan of Newcastle and a fan of football.
This is not to completely disregard the abhorrent allegations made against the Saudi regime which understandably has raised a lot of moral and ethical questions.
As a boy growing up in the North East of England in the 90s I fell in love with Newcastle watching Peter Beardsley and Andy Cole under the tutelage of Kevin Keegan which began the “entertainers” era culminating in some of the most exhilarating football seen in some time.
Alan Shearer signed shortly thereafter and it seemed as though the club was destined for sustained success bankrolled by Freddy Shepherd and Sir John Hall.
For one reason or another a first major trophy since 1969 eluded Newcastle but the fans still had hope. The club weren’t afraid to spend money and many big name signing came and went (with varying degrees of success). Each week 52,000 fanatical fans would turn up at St James Park and cheer on their heroes without fail.
That was until Mike Ashley took over. Initially there was a degree of optimism with the take over. On the surface Mike Ashley was a billionaire taking over our club at a time that the club needed significant investment.
The novelty wore off quickly for both Newcastle fans and Mike Ashley. Barely a year after taking over, Ashley placed the club for sale and from then on all hope of significant investment and success went with it.
The mistakes that Mike Ashley made have all been well documented but it was clear that in order for the club to move forward there needed to be a change in ownership.
St James Park became an advertising platform for Sports Direct and fans walked away in droves frustrated by the lack of care given to the club and the city.
For the Geordies to walk away from Newcastle in protest should give an indication as to how toxic the atmosphere became.
We suffered through many false dawns of possible takeovers until 18 months ago when word spread that the Saudis and their vast wealth had agreed a deal with Ashley.
What followed was a farcical drawn out process that tested the patience of all parties but at 3:15am Thursday morning Sydney time we received the news we had all been waiting for.
Newcastle United had been sold.
Tears were shed not just in Newcastle but all around the world as we sat back and listened to Amanda Staveley give an interview saying everything Newcastle fans had been longing to hear.
Significant investment in the playing group, significant investment in the academy, significant investment in the facilities, significant investment in women’s football and significant investment in the city.
Anyone taking over from Mike Ashley didn’t have to work too hard to gain the approval of fans but the early signs are extremely encouraging for a prosperous future.
What can’t be forgotten is that Newcastle are still winless and are in a real relegation battle. Money does not guarantee success.
The irony of the Mike Ashley era is that due to his frugal nature, the club actually posted profits in recent years and as a result have roughly 190 million to spend without falling foul of FFP.
Naturally fans are getting excited about the possible arrival of a world-class manager and world-class players but I believe a more measured approach is needed especially in the January transfer window.
I do foresee a marquee signing (Phil Coutinho) accompanied by proven Premier League commodities (Jesse Lingard, Nick Pope and James Tarkowski).
There is a long list of things to do and the first port of call has to be the removal of Steve Bruce. Bruce has lost the support of the fans and he seems resigned to his fate (and his reported multi-million pound payout!)
For the first time in over two decades, Newcastle will now be must see TV and that’s an exciting prospect for all fans. No longer will deadline days be dull, no longer will we be the sleeping giant of English football.
The future is bright, the future is black and white.