American investor reveals why he backed out of Newcastle United takeover

Ipswich Town owner Brett Johnson says he explored the possibility of completing a takeover of Newcastle United in 2019.
St James's Park, the home of Newcastle United. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)St James's Park, the home of Newcastle United. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
St James's Park, the home of Newcastle United. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Johnson, along with fellow Americans Berke Bakay and Mark Detmer, was a part of the Gamechanger 20 Ltd consortium to take ownership of the League One club in April.

The trio are also co-owners of USL Championship outfit Phoenix Rising but have held a longstanding ambition to invest in an English club.

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And before completing a £40m deal for Ipswich, Johnson revealed they “kicked the tyres” on Newcastle first, where due diligence was carried out.

However, he claimed the deal was “fraught with complexities”.

He told Tribal Football: “We did spend some time, a couple of years ago, checking the tyres – like a lot of people have – in terms of potentially making a run at Newcastle.

"We had raised some money to play a minority stake or shareholder in a syndicate. For a lot of reasons, these deals don’t happen and they’re fraught with complexities.

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"From our perspective, the value of the exercise was… we did a substantial amount of due diligence and we were able to bring together a bunch of financial sponsors behind our stake in that club.”

After careful consideration, the consortium decided to look elsewhere, with Charlton Athletic next on their list before Ipswich was purchased from then-owner Marcus Evans.

Johnson has aspirations of returning the Tractor Boys to the Premier League.

He continued: "Ultimately what yielded it was, in particular, our principle partner on Ipswich, they had stated to us after the positive experience, they said ‘look, we love you guys, we believe in you guys, go out and buy something else’.

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"We kicked the tyres for a little while on Charlton, which didn’t come to fruition.

"But after there were two misses if you will, it positioned us well to take a step back ‘let’s look at this differently, proactively go out and seek a club where we reach out to the buyer and try and negotiate an off-market transaction.

"That’s exactly what we did with Ipswich.”

Meanwhile, Mike Ashley and Newcastle are maintaining their ‘business as usual’ approach at St James’s Park, despite rumours the Toon owner has readied takeover buyers PCP Partners, the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia and the Reuben brothers.

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