What next for Newcastle United after takeover collapse? Ownership, transfers, contracts & more under the microscope

What next for Newcastle United? It’s a question no one really wanted to ask.

Days after the dream died for many, well the Saudi-owned one in its current form, it’s hard to see past the disappointment, absolute heartache, feeling of loss the news of the PCP, PIF and Reuben Brothers deal collapse brought, as fans face up to yet more Mike Ashley nothingness.

But what does someone do after losing a winning lottery ticket – not just any draw, the Euro Millions, zero other winners? Our writer Liam Kennedy tries to pick through the remains of the deal and work out what next for Newcastle United and a disenfranchised fanbase?

A new bidder or a restructured deal? Options on the table

Saudi Arabia's Yasir Al-Rumayyan, the Managing Director of the Public Investment Fund gives a joint press conference on the Sovereign Health Funds program to fight climate change at the Elysee Palace, in Paris, on July 6, 2018. - Six sovereign wealth funds from Norway, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait and New Zealand released a joint framework on July 6, 2018 to encourage investors to take climate-related risks into consideration when investing.

Amanda Staveley does not want to walk away from Newcastle United ‘the project’. In the end, she may have to. Staveley admits she has fallen in love with the club, the fans and that it stands for.

But does the same feeling exist with the Reubens and PIF? There are doubts about the latter. Issues were raised with regards the directors put forward and the Premier League’s proposals to switch that around fell on deaf ears. The Saudis thought they’d already jumped through enough hoops for the league and were simply unwilling to continue to do so indefinitely. So can they be brought back to the table and a deal be restructured? That’s the million dollar question. At this stage it looks unlikely.

PCP are not giving up on the deal just yet but the gap between the Premier League and PIF appears cavernous, as things stand. Hope remains, though. How well placed that hope is, is anyone’s guess?

So that takes us on to other bidders. Two other bidders have been touted to step in, one is Henry Mauriss, the other an unknown US organisation, who have been completing due diligence via a London PR firm in the area since January.

OXFORD, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 04: Mike Ashley owner of Newcastle United talks to managing Directory Lee Charnley ahead of the FA Cup Fourth Round Replay match between Oxford United and Newcastle United at Kassam Stadium on February 04, 2020 in Oxford, England. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

Mauriss looks to be a near non-starter, if the Saudi consortium’s word is to be believed. And Mike Ashley’s state of panic would also suggest there is no ready-made package to step in and fill the takeover void.

What next for Mike Ashley?

Ashley wants out. He has done for a while now. Coronavirus and the uncertainty that has walked hand-in-hand with it, has made him even more determined to walk.

As previously mentioned, though, without the Saudi cash there is little to no option but to remain as owner indefinitely, such is the economic plight around the globe. It is far from easy to find lending facilities, even for people with significant cash, build business models, etc, when there is so little that is known about the future of the world economy, and footballonomics.

He’s sanctioned planning at the club, and with the takeover still a prospect, that was welcomed. Those skeleton plans are all NUFC has at the moment, unless a phoenix can be summoned from the flames.

Could this be the end of the Newcastle United faithful as we know it?

This is the end for many. I’ve had messages from fans who are welcoming the prospect of never going back ‘there’, who dread the thought of fans being allowed back into stadiums because it will present them with the most awkward of decisions.

Some have told me of season ticket cancellations, others much worse. Newcastle needed this takeover, the fans needed it so much more.

Ashley knows the NUFC business model is now broken. He can’t give away 10,000 tickets every season to keep the stadium full. The mood is such, that number could easily double in the inertia Covid-19 has bred.

Steve Bruce – sitting a little deeper in his chair this weekend?

What this takeover has done is give United some degree of certainty, something that has failed to exist since the turn of the year.

Bruce has a three-year deal and has earned the right to walk into year two of it (he really has!). Let’s not paint an unrealistic picture here, United were OK last season but nothing more. At times they were decent, more often than not, dire.

Bruce knows United must improve, but at least he now knows he will be the man to have a shot at doing it.

There needs to be less luck, more judgement in 2020/21.

Transfer window open for business – but are NUFC?

Yes. They are. Free transfers and loans are at the top of the menu, but that does not necessarily mean ‘bargain bucket’ signings on ‘smart price’ wages.

Arnaud Lusamba is a player they will look to tie up, so too Ryan Fraser. A loan move for Luka Jovic is being assessed, as is one for Patrick Schick, and things could start moving on those deals in the coming weeks. Another highly-rated Premier League winger, starved of starts at a side who just missed out on the Champions League, is also on the radar.

Contracts – the stays and the goes

Another area of the club where certainty was desperately needed. Matty Longstaff is the biggest issue when it comes to new deals, with the player and club looking increasingly likely to part ways.

A takeover seemed the best route to a resolution but with that off the table for now, the player must make his call as to whether he goes elsewhere or chooses this version of NUFC, not the one everyone dreamed of.

The likes of Fabian Schar and DeAndre Yedlin have a year left, so too Isaac Hayden. Decisions must be made. I suspect at least two of those will be allowed to leave, fitness allowing.

The loan rangers

Stick or twist. United had four in the season and maybe two made a case to stay? Shame they both play the same position.

While injury still keeps Jetro Willems out, he and Danny Rose were the only two who you could justify turning into permanent deals.

Extended loans could be agreed for Nabil Bentaleb and Valentino Lazaro, although I am sure no tears would be shed if the duo walk.

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