The Newcastle United takeover plan for Steve Bruce – and a possible return for Rafa Benitez
Steve Bruce will keep his job at Newcastle United for now – if the club is taken over.
Amanda Staveley, backed by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) and the billionaire property investors David and Simon Reuben, has agreed a £300million deal for the club.
And the proposed takeover is now with the Premier League for their owners’ and directors’ test, which could be completed before football, suspended last month due to the coronavirus pandemic, is restarted.
The Gazette understands that Bruce, controversially appointed head coach last summer following the departure of Rafa Benitez, will be in charge for the club’s remaining games should the takeover be formalised in the meantime.
However, the 59-year-old would face a less certain future going forward under the proposed new ownership.
Former Newcastle manager Sam Allardyce, sacked by owner Mike Ashley in January 2008 following his takeover, this week said that Bruce will be “very worried” by the developments.
It’s clear that Staveley and her backers plan significant changes at St James’s Park, and Benitez – who joined Chinese side Dalian Yifang last summer – could be lured back to Tyneside to spearhead a new era at the club, which last won a major trophy in 1969.
Staveley – who has met Benitez – knows it would be a popular move.
Benitez left United when his contract expired following a series of stand-offs with Ashley over investment and the direction of the club, which finished 13th last season and was in the same position under Bruce when the Premier League suspended its fixtures.
PIF, however, have the funds needed to finance the kind of long-term “project” that Benitez envisaged when he took over Newcastle in 2016.
Benitez – who turned 60 this week – signed a lucrative two-and-a-half-year deal at Dalian last year, and it may not be easy to extricate him from his contract at Dalian.
Meanwhile, Bruce has two years left on his United contract.
Bruce has not spoken about the proposed takeover since a deal was agreed, though his footballer son Alex this week said: “Until there’s actually a takeover in place, I think it’s pretty pointless talking about it.”