'I'll be very surprised' - Newcastle United takeover verdict with new owners set to make Steve Bruce decision
It’s been a transformative few days for Newcastle United after the Saudi Arabia-backed consortium gained the keys to St James’s Park.
Following an eighteen month wait, PCP Partners, the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia and the Reuben brothers finally ended Mike Ashley’s torrid 14-year tenure after the Premier League granted approval.
The £300million deal was announced on Thursday evening – sparking wild celebrations outside St James’s Park.
Since then, Amanda Staveley has fronted up the takeover, briefing the press and supporters on their plans for the football club, and the city.
She has vowed to invest in United in all areas, with the long-term ambition of becoming Premier League champions.
Here, our Shields Gazette writers Miles Starforth and Jordan Cronin tackle the burning questions surrounding the new ownership and their exciting plans:
Just sum up how exciting a time it is to be a Newcastle United fan at the moment?
MS: “This is a hugely exciting time in the club’s history. For the first time in a long time, fans can dream of a brighter future, a future which will see the club again challenge at the top of the Premier League. Premier League survival, or just “ticking along”, will not be good enough for the new owners, who have the money to back up their ambitious plans.”
JC: “There aren’t many words to describe the magnitude of this takeover. Newcastle have quite literally won the lottery. In. the short-term, it brings hope to a fanbase that was deprived of that for 14 years. In the long-term, it could take the club to the very, very top. It really doesn’t get any better than that. Newcastle are one of the richest clubs in the world, let that sink in!”
What key appointments do you expect Newcastle United to make?
MS: “There are a lot of appointments to be made over the coming days, weeks and months. The club will need a new managing director (or chief executive), and we’ll most likely also see a director of football appointed. Amanda Staveley and her team are looking at every level and every department, so I think we’re going to see a lot of change.”
JC: “It is crucial Staveley and co get their behind-the-scenes appointments right, and I have full faith that they will. Some established names have already been linked with positions such as director of football or sporting director. It’s also an opportunity to bring club legends such as Alan Shearer and Kevin Keegan back into the fold as ambassadors.”
What areas should the new Newcastle United owners prioritise?
MS: “Obviously, the over-riding priority is Premier League survival following a winless start to the season. The club’s form needs to be addressed, and the new owners have a decision to make on Steve Bruce. Beyond that, the club’s communications will be overhauled. Staveley has promised to address this, and I’d also expect changes in the way the club interacts with the media, as relations with the press have deteriorated over the past two years.”
JC: “Big changes are needed behind the scenes. A proper strategy is needed, designed by proper footballing people. Again, I have full trust in the new owners to do that. But Miles is right, Newcastle are currently second-bottom of the Premier League – relegation is unthinkable, so an immediate focus will go into that. Bruce’s future is obviously one to watch. The takeover will undoubtedly give the Newcastle squad a massive lift. Let’s hope that transfers into wins.”
Will Steve Bruce be in charge for the game against Tottenham Hotspur?
MS: “Staveley says no decision has yet been made in respect of Bruce, though the takeover came just days after more than 94% of respondents to a Newcastle United Supporters Trust pulse survey said that he should resign “in the best interests” of the club. It seems inconceivable that the consortium, looking to harness the positivity of the past 48 hours and unite the fanbase behind the team, will not make a change in the very near future.”
JC: “I’ll be very surprised if Bruce is still Newcastle United head coach come this time next week. Mike Ashley, of course, was always the main problem but Bruce’s responsibility is what happens on the pitch and so far, he’s falling well below par. In my opinion, this group of players are capable of achieving a comfortable mid-table finish. The new owners have waited 18 months to complete a sale, so it’s only right they’re allowed to bring in their own man, especially when the current boss is doing a poor job.”
Does Mike Ashley deserve credit for making the Newcastle United takeover happen?
MS: “Yes and no. Ashley pursued legal action to get this deal over the line, but the club, most recently put up for sale in October 2017, could have been sold long before now had he been more flexible on the price. That said, the resources of previous interested parties is dwarfed by those of this consortium. This is the right takeover.”
JC: “This is perhaps an unpopular opinion but yes, he does. He had the opportunity to sell the club to other, less wealthier people for more money but stuck with Saudi consortium because it was the best deal for Newcastle United. I must stress however, it does not grant him forgiveness. He ripped the soul out of this club, forced lifelong supporters to walk away and lose hope – never forget that.”