Inside the Newcastle United takeover: How an 18-month stalemate was finally broken
It is the takeover every Newcastle United supporter has dreamed of happening, without ever truly allowing themselves to believe it could, let alone would.
After 18 months of frustration, setbacks, claims and counterclaims, off-the-record briefings and legal challenges, Newcastle are about to become one of the richest clubs in the world, backed by the wealthiest sovereign wealth fund on the planet, Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund.
In theory, if the PIF finds the same avenues to funnel money into its new football venture that has transformed the Abu Dhabi-owned Manchester City and the Qatar-owned Paris St-Germain, Newcastle are about to be transformed into one of the most powerful football operations on the planet.
It is impossible for supporters not to get excited. After 14 years of being crushed by owner Mike Ashley’s perceived lack of ambition and much-criticised decision-making, this is a new beginning. It will feel like a completely new world for a club who have not won a domestic trophy since the FA Cup in 1955 and not been champions of England since 1927. There will be plenty of bitterness and jealousy from rival supporters.
There will also be opposition, and we should be well aware that this is about “sportswashing” – cleansing the image of a regime denounced for its human rights abuses, the war in Yemen and the brutal methods used for the suppression of political and social unrest inside the country, through a Premier League football club.
Yet, for those who seize on this aspect of the takeover, they cannot blame Newcastle fans for being overjoyed. They have, like City fans before them, won football’s lottery.
What is clear from the events of the last few weeks, which until Wednesday afternoon, had taken place exclusively in private under strict non-disclosure agreements is that this project mattered enormously to PIF and the Saudi government. It was the Saudi government that has, in the end, made this happen, because they needed it.