Conservative Party respond to NCSL Newcastle United takeover letter – but the fan group demand Downing St clarity
The Conservative Party has responded to Newcastle Consortium Supporters Ltd's 10 questions for Boris Johnson – but Keith Patterson is demanding answers from the Prime Minister himself.
On December 31, NCSL director Patterson sent a nine-page letter to 10 Downing Street requesting the Prime Minister nail his colours to the mast and show his support, or otherwise, for the stalled Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia, PCP Capital Partners and Reuben Brothers buy out of Newcastle United.
Patterson set Midnight, tomorrow – January 13 – as a deadline for the PM to respond.
And on the eve of that deadline, Patterson has revealed the detail of a 75-minute Zoom meeting with Jack Bell, chief of staff to Dehenna Davison, MP for Bishop Auckland.
"Jack listened intently, and we discussed how much the purchase of Newcastle United by the world’s richest company and its partners would benefit a post Brexit Newcastle. He accepted the concerns and had great empathy for the people who wanted this investment," said Patterson, whose critics, he added, believed he would not get a response.
"We appreciate we are in the middle of a pandemic and times are tough, but if our region loses this investment then I fear there will be a lot of angry voters in the Newcastle region.”
In the meeting Patterson outlined fan concerns about government involvement in the deal – and their denials in relation to the topic, as well as issues with the impending fan-led review of the game. Patterson, as he did in his letter, also brought it to the party's attention the Premier League power balance and its perceived ability to deny investment in the North East, as well as turning Bell's attention to the government's strategic trading connections to Saudi Arabia.
"Jack was very sympathetic," said Patterson.
"He understood the springboard of opportunity that such an investment would no doubt bring."
Bell offered further talks with Patterson moving forward but the request was 'politely declined'. Patterson insisted on Johnson's word, and that alone.
However, Patterson – who has discussed his NCSL journey on NUFC Matters YouTube channel – is not holding his breath for the call.
"When Boris Johnson stood up in the first lockdown and appealed for 250,000 volunteers to help the vulnerable, the old and the front-line workers, I came forward, committing 2760 hours unpaid work. Now I’m asking him for one hour of his time, to think of the people, businesses and infrastructure in our region. When you needed votes, you canvassed us, but when we canvassed our MPs we got predetermined reviews that are worth nothing to Newcastle.”
An NCSL statement reads: "NCSL expects matters on the club’s legal case to move forward very soon but are somewhat puzzled why government would not show a willingness or intent to support the deal and put their name to backing the investment in the North East.
"With or without a response from the PM tomorrow, Newcastle, the fans and in particular NCSL are determined it will not stop them welcoming the Saudi-led investment of PIF, PCP into our region after the challenges of COVID and Brexit uncertainty."
Patterson added: "If we can’t get support, then we will fight alone for what rightfully belongs to Newcastle. The city and the fans will never give up."