Chelsea look set to have an extra seat added to their table at the very top of the super-wealthy and elite of football with the Saudi-backed takeover of Newcastle United close to completion.
A £300million takeover of the Toon by the Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund will immediately catapult Newcastle into the realm of the richest clubs in the world, if not the richest of them all.
The Saudi’s and sports broadcaster beIN Sports have come to an agreement to end a ban which saw the Qatari network unable to broadcast in the country for the past four-and-a-half years as part of a diplomatic dispute.
The takeover, which also includes a 10% stake for property magnates the Reuben Brothers and another 10% for Amanda Stavely, has been deadlocked for the past 18 months with current Toon owner Mike Ashley looking to sell.
After failing the fit and proper owners test, things stalled. But now, with the disagreement resolved, Newcastle look set to be launched into the Premier League elite and bring to an end Sports Direct tycoon Mike Ashley’s troubled 14-year ownership on Tyneside.
Ashley’s tenure oversaw two relegations and numerous off-field grumbles with Toon fans who have been demanding a change of owner for arguably a decade. Now, they are set to get their wish.
The position of manager Steve Bruce is set to come under even further fire. Newcastle sit second-bottom of the Premier League table this season in its early stages, with Bruce acting as a lightning rod for Ashley since taking over in 2019.
Chelsea, Man City, Liverpool and Manchester United have been enjoying seats at the top table in the Premier League, as orchestrated by the failed European Super League breakaway attempt that also included Arsenal and Spurs.
A lot is made of the top flight’s “big six” teams holding plenty of sway in the Premier League but with the news of the Toon’s takeover, all of them could be joined by a new player.
Roman Abramovich and Chelsea won’t be concerned. It was the Blues’ Russian owner who blazed the trail for the mega-rich foreign owners in the Premier League when he bought the SW6 club in 2003 for a reported £140million.
Chelsea ended the dominance of Man Utd and Arsenal in the top flight by investing massively in their squad, ushering in a period of spending that had never been seen before in the Premier League.
Then along came a group of Abu Dhabi investors who bought Manchester City from Thaksin Shinawatra in 2008, five years after Abramovich had arrived in England and after sustained and heavy investment, have turned City into a global powerhouse and bankrolling them to three Premier League titles in the last four years.
That is the plan with the PIF and Newcastle eventually, though reversing almost 15 years of decline is not something that can be changed overnight.
The arrival of Financial Fair Play (FFP) in 2011/12 was supposed to limit clubs simply being bought out and throwing unsustainable sums of cash at building a squad to win every trophy going.
Had FFP been around in 2003 with Chelsea, or 2008 with City, then who is to say the Premier League would be the money-machine that it is today, by far the richest league on the planet not just in football, but in all of sport…