Man City's blueprint for Newcastle success, transfer strategy and Messi accident
The Premier League - and global football, for that matter - has a new richest club after a Saudi-backed consortium completed a £305million takeover of Newcastle on Thursday.
With the team languishing in the relegation zone after a tough start to the season, the Toon's rise won't be easy - and they will need to learn from rivals Manchester City if they are to succeed.
Newcastle are expected to make use of the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF) in the coming months, worth £320billion - more than ten times as much as City's owner Sheikh Mansour (£22.9bn).
City's rise to the top began in June 2007 when former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra bought the club.
Shinawatra's wealth didn't compare to Mansour's bank balance, although he still had enough cash to spend around £70m when he arrived in England.
He also hired former England boss Sven-Goran Eriksson to coach the likes of Elano, Vedran Corluka and Rolando Bianchi - yet Shinawatra's all-stars had little impact on the Premier League.
City could only muster a ninth-place finish and famously lost their final game of the 2007-08 season 8-1 to Middlesbrough - managed by future Three Lions coach Gareth Southgate.
City continued to splash the cash the following summer - spending a reported £21.6m on Brazilian striker Jo - but financial troubles were on the horizon.
Shinawatra's assets were frozen after becoming embroiled in a legal battle in Thailand and needed to sell the club at short notice.
Gary Cook, who was appointed chief executive in May 2008, later told the BBC: "We couldn't pay the bills. We couldn't pay the wages. Money was frozen.
"It was a desperate situation and faced with that, you borrow money from wherever you can. We were borrowing from board members. It was not a plan to run a football club. It was one of survival.
"Finding partial investment was not an option. Someone had to take over the club 100 per cent. Good fortune is always a major factor in situations like these and Abu Dhabi United Group (ADUG) were in the market for a football club."
And Mansour, owner of the ADUG, was keen to make a statement signing with just hours remaining in the transfer window. That player was Brazilian sensation Robinho, bought from Real Madrid for a reported £32.5m.
Cook added: "We had the capital to go out and get a player, but we only had 24 hours.
"We had to really go through this ridiculous facade because, if we didn't get the player, the ownership might not take over. It was all very precarious. All a little bit storybook.
"We were making offers for players that were outrageous, unbelievable and made no sense.
"But we had to try and fulfil the obligation of the incoming owner, which was 'get me a marquee player'. Robinho was that guy."
Despite signing Robinho, City struggled during their first season under the new owners. Sven's successor Mark Hughes could only deliver a tenth-place finish in the Premier League.
It was clear significant investment was needed - and a better coach. Italian icon Roberto Mancini was brought in to replace Hughes and more than £130m was spent on the squad.
Some of the players, such as Carlos Tevez, were glamorous. Others, however, helped bring greater balance to the side. Kolo Toure and Joleon Lescott improved the defence, while Gareth Barry arrived as one of the best holding midfielders in England.
Discussing City's transfer strategy with The Guardian in 2010, Cook said: "People think we choose players from the fantasy football league but there was a clear plan for who Roberto wanted to sign.
"One of the perceptions was that we only buy foreign players, then suddenly people saw that six of the England team who finished against Switzerland were City players.
"When people see the good things we are actually doing, they seem to be enlightened."
The result was a fifth-place finish in the Premier League in 2009-10 before winning the FA Cup and qualifying for the Champions League 12 months later. City were now among Europe's elite.
As well as establishing City as a force in European football, Mansour and his colleagues wanted to improve the entire infrastructure of the club.
Tens of millions of pounds were invested into the club's academy, training facilities and stadium - the latter of which was expanded by around 7,000 seats to make it the sixth largest in England.
The owners also established the City Football Group (CFG) - a global network of clubs based in the US, Australia, India, Japan, Spain, Uruguay, China, Belgium and France - to help grow their brand and reach.
And they hired Pep Guardiola - regarded by many as the world's best manager - to implement a free-flowing, eye-catching style of passing football on the team.
Omar Berrada, chief operating officer of the CFG, said in January 2020: “When we set out as City Football Group, the three big markets we always had in mind were the US, China and India, right from the beginning.
"I think we’ve created a network of clubs that gives us an ability to develop our commercial presence, our fan engagement ability, as well as our football platform."
Although City's owners have established a global brand, they still make statement signings - not too dissimilar to Robinho.
The Premier League side accidentally made a bid for Lionel Messi in 2008 after Cook misheard an order from the owners and offered AC Milan £100m for Kaka six months later.
After the latter deal collapsed, Cook told the BBC: "If you want my personal opinion they bottled it.
"He clearly was for sale but we never got to meet with the player, the behaviour of AC Milan got in the way."
Their biggest signing to date - at least in financial terms - is England ace Jack Grealish, who became Britain's first £100m player in August.
Should the blueprint be copied?
After five Premier League titles, two FA Cups, six League Cups and one Champions League final, few can deny City have achieved significant success since Mansour purchased the club 13 years ago.
Ariedo Braida, a director at Milan when Kaka's move to City collapsed in 2009, has urged Newcastle to adopt the Manchester club's blueprint - but not their impulse to make statement signings.
He recently told Tuttosport: "He [Kaka] told me that if he had to go, he’d go to Madrid and not City. And he went to Real.
"Today the new Saudi Newcastle promises to go along those lines. Today it is a mid-calibre Premier League team that is fighting for survival.
"Thanks to the new resources, competent people will arrive in Newcastle and surely the club will be able to follow in the footsteps of City, even if it will take some time.
"Money is not everything, but in football at the time of the pandemic it is indispensable. The English league is richer than Serie A, it has three times the resources.
"If the Arab money is spent to attract the champions with an important technical project, then the champions will arrive."