Mike Ashley's time at Newcastle United is DONE, 'good things come to those who wait' - just ask Liverpool fans

The 2019/20 Premier League season, and everything that goes with it, has been about so much more than football.

Sunday, 28th June 2020, 4:05 pm

It's dragged and stunted, enthralled, frustrated, angered and delighted. Created moments of absolute joy, history - and in the same breath brought towns and cities to their knees in despair, or embarrassment, as was the case with Burnley. Newcastle United definitely know what despair feels like.

While grown men in mankinis fall off lamp posts on Merseyside and flares ignite to turn Liverpool a sea of non-social distanced red, Newcastle United fans stare aimlessly at a bag of cans - eight for a fiver - bought when the days were much shorter and the nights darker. If you're like me, that's not the first lot of cans you've bought, drank and bought and drank again.

The good ship Klopp has delivered the 19th top flight title for the Reds, 30 years in the making - and it feels like we haven't heard the end of these celebrations yet.

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Meanwhile, just three hours and 170 or so miles to the east, Magpies fans wait patiently for a man, presumably, to press a button that gives a mythical green light to their hopes and dreams.

Never mind 30 years, this one's been 13, 51, 65 or 93 in the making - take your pick.

It's actually difficult to imagine but roll the clock back to the 1974 FA Cup final - the one fans of a certain age, your dads, your grandas, thought bandy-legged legend Supermac would tear Pool to pieces - and that was United's record 11th final of the competition. They'd won it six times. That statistic is still right to this day, the wins not the finals.

Compare that to Liverpool, of Bill Shankly, Kevin Keegan, Emlyn Hughes, Ray Clemence, Phil Thompson, John Toshack and more. That was their fifth ever final, and resulted in only their second FA Cup win.

Mike Ashley

They've now won it SEVEN times. Add in SIX European Cups, EIGHT League Cups, 11 more titles and a whole host of baubles on the European and now global scene.

In '74 Liverpool – 10 – had won less trophies than our beloved black and whites – 11 – discounting the Charity Shield. Less than 50 years ago you couldn't split United and Liverpool - now there's a solar system between them, which year by year requires an even more powerful NASA-grade, Elon Musk-funded, telescope to view.

Yet we wait, and wait, and wait a little bit more for our lift off. Five, four, three...No, let's start again.

We want our moment in the sun, we've never flown close enough to feel its power. That day we can all cut loose the shackles, begin to believe in something again.

Tyneside is desperate to remember what it feels like to love. Properly. Not the staying together for the kids kind of love, the first kiss, the butterflies in the tummy version.

It will come, we know it will. That day when we get our Newcastle United back, like the one in the black and white movie reels, or Keegan's dreamers, or Bobby Robson's band of Champions League breakers.

It felt like it might start on April 30, then again two weeks later, the end of May came and went, soon June too. And still we wait patiently. This is starting to feel like the real life version of that old Guinness ad.

"Tick followed tock, followed tick, followed tock, followed tick" – we're told good things come to those who wait. "Here's to waiting".

"The fat drummer hit the beat with all his heart" - shame ours has never had his in it.

Mike Ashley's time at the club is up. He knows it, and he's getting desperate. He wanted the deal done by the end of April. Never mind investing in a Football League club, Ashley has cashflow problems in his main business, his baby, the one that made him a multi-billionaire.

The Henry Mauriss bid stinks of a man wanting to give the 'hurry up' to a regulatory body not conforming to his 'my way or the high way' approach. The bid is real, enough highly-respected north east press men said it so, but the intentions are a tad fishy, so too the links if you scratch the surface.

Ashley has enough on his plate, without the need to fund another United rebuild when a number of revenue streams have been cut. The cash cow has run out of milk, so the farmer is wanting to 'leg it'.

The government - intent on this takeover happening - are gunning for Ashley next, according to national publication the I.

Criticised from pillar to post for his decision to furlough staff of the multi-million profit-making Newcastle United – who pay the likes of Joelinton and Jonjo Shelvey north of £70,000 per week – No10 & Co are keen to find out if Ashley, fresh from settling a huge tax bill on the continent, has been using Chancellor Rishi Sunak's life-saving Job Retention Scheme, one of the few positive calls by the government in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, a little too free and easy with his retail empire - Frasers Group, or Sports Direct PLC in old money.

In takeover talk of years-gone-by we all wondered when Ashley would reveal himself from behind the curtain, rip off his mask and say, "I'd have gotten away with it, too, if it weren't for those meddling kids!"

This time, he cannot. The deal is done. The contracts signed. All that is required is the transfer of funds, once the Premier League work out a legal framework by which their product – the actual game – can be shown in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

At present its MENA region rights holder is blocked and illegal, dating back to 2017.

Saudis are watching Premier League football - and not all of them are using internationally illegal streams. Many are paying BeIN Sports customers. You can buy the boxes everywhere in the back and front streets of Riyadh. Frequencies are not blocked, but the watching of the product through BeIN is not permitted.

Whether the Premier League see the Saudis as fit and proper, is anyone's guess. They must surely have their doubts Ashley is indeed befitting of ownership of one of their 20 valued shareholders.

Fair estimates see no issues with the owners and directors test - and I have to say I tend to agree.

The Saudis have riches under the belts, so too 10% stakeholders-in-waiting Reuben Brothers.

Not all of their riches is cash, a lot of it is assets. But it's fair to say they've got capital available and will lavish some of it on United under the guidance of PCP Capital Partners, Amanda Staveley and her business associates. Not all of it is pasted down, like Ashley's wallpaper.

Yet, with all this dangling like a golden carrot, we wait. Liverpool have their parties, and they deserve them. Geordies want a piece of the cake. And we have owners waiting in the wings, stopping the DJ, ready with the knife. There’s no going back now, no future with him – it would be like losing a winning lottery ticket.

Keep those cans on ice. It's coming. We've always known it. "Tick followed tock, followed tick..."

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