Where next for Newcastle United after their £300m Saudi-backed takeover?
A consortium led by the Public Investment Fund (PIF) has bought Newcastle for £300m – but where next for the club?
The consortium’s investment into the North East club has transformed the landscape of English football indefinitely and times have never been brighter on Tyneside.
Emphatic scenes at St James’ Park marked the end of Mike Ashley’s turbulent spell as owner, which poetically lasted 14 years, 4 months and 14 days.
Amanda Staveley, chief executive of PCP Capital Partners (PCP) said: “We intend to instill a united philosophy across the Club, establish a clear purpose, and help provide leadership that will allow Newcastle United to go on to big achievements over the long term.
“Our ambition is aligned with the fans – to create a consistently successful team that’s regularly competing for major trophies and generates pride across the globe.”
Jamie Reuben of RB Sports & Media said: “We will build a true community Club, based upon our family’s knowledge of the city and in line with our plans that have been worked on closely with Newcastle City Council to deliver long-term sustainable growth for the area.”
For a club that has known very little ambition in the past decade, the news is sure to invigorate the Newcastle fanbase as they enter unprecedented territories: potential riches on a scale never witnessed before.
Where next for Newcastle? It is hard to say because so much is uncertain at this stage.
A decision has not been made on Steve Bruce’s future as head coach, with the consortium set to undergo a “root and branch operation” of the systems in place at Newcastle before making decisions on the coaching staff.
The Daily Mail has suggested Leicester City’s Brendan Rodgers as a potential candidate, while The Gazzetta dello Sport has put forward out-of-work Antonio Conte for the role.
Other names have included Rangers’ Steven Gerrard as well as an unlikely, and sentimental, approach for Everton’s Rafa Benitez – who managed the club between 2016 and 2019.
Player links haven’t gone away either, and are sure to accelerate as time progresses. Phillipe Coutinho has already been linked to the club, allegedly making contact months this summer when the takeover situation was more unclear, according to Spanish outlet, Sport.
Much is to be said regarding PIF’s involvement in the deal; the investment fund has acquired 80% of the club as part of the takeover.
Human rights organisations such as Amnesty International strongly condemned the takeover deal during the prolonged Owners & Directors testing process.
A spokesperson for Amnesty International said: “The human rights situation in Saudi Arabia continues to be dire, under (Crown Prince) Mohammed bin Salman it’s only got worse. Government critics, women’s rights campaigners, Shia activists and human rights defenders are routinely being harassed and jailed, often after blatantly unfair trials.
“And the closed-door trial of Jamal Khashoggi’s alleged killers was widely perceived to be part of a wider whitewash by the authorities. And so maybe instead of allowing those people implicated in those human rights violations to buy their way into English football, perhaps the Premier League should consider changing their owners’ and directors’ test to prevent that kind of thing from happening.”
While Newcastle fans should celebrate the takeover because it can propel the club further, supporters should remain mindful over the moral viewpoints many people will hold in the context of the club’s future achievements, and Saudi Arabia, which the club essentially represents.