'Block out the Newcastle United takeover noise, as only one thing matters now' – Liam Kennedy's thoughts on the on-going Saudi deal saga

Pass or fail. Yes or no. Resubmit or rejection.

Friday, 16th April 2021, 6:00 am

It’s irrelevant how the message is delivered or how it leaks into the public domain, but when it comes to the seemingly never-ending Newcastle United takeover saga only one thing really matters.

Forget the Amnesty International statements, the UK/Saudi relations front pages, the social media chatter. None of this makes a blind bit of difference now. And that’s because we are in the Newcastle United takeover endgame, whether you like to admit it or not.

We might find out the result of arbitration first, or we might not. We might only hear of the deal resubmission. In a world of confidentiality, non-disclosure agreements and more, it might be a case of purely hearing when the keys are handed over, or tucked back into Mike Ashley’s pocket. The last one is definitely fanciful. Since day one this deal has been leakier than a Julian Assange range of colanders.

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Chairman of the Future Investment Initiative (FII) Yasir al-Rumayyan speaks during the fourth edition of the FII conference at the capital Riyadh's Ritz-Carlton hotel on January 27, 2021. - Saudi Arabia opened a two-day Davos-style investment forum, with dozens of global policy makers and business tycoons lined up to speak at the largely virtual event amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Ultimately, though. Arbitration is the only thing that represents meaningful progress.

Yes, poring over days gone-by and actions of the past 12 months or so can make for interesting reading – there have been some excellent stories in the last week – but movement is dependant on arbitration. And arbitration is coming, it might even be happening. It definitely hasn’t happened. Anyone telling you they know the ins and outs of it aren’t worth listening to. A select few are ‘ITK’ on this one – and it’s the people who really matter, the players with skin in the game.

Was the owners’ and directors’ test applied correctly and should the Saudi state be run through as a director? The answers are coming. And when they arrive we’ll have a clearer idea about whether this deal is in the foreground – things can be done VERY fast if it gets green-lighted – or the horizon. A short-term rejection is likely to see other legal angles fired up – you might not realise, but you’ll know if/when it hits. Eyes will be opened, jaws dropped.

Ashley won’t give up, but appetite in the Middle East would then become the biggest concern.

And then of course there’s the R word. R changes everything. R adds complications. R makes Newcastle much less palatable. That worry begins again at the weekend. Roll on May.

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