Rumors of a possible Newcastle United takeover continue to swirl around the globe, but how would a major takeover impact the overall identity of the club?
Two interested parties are reportedly negotiating the takeover of Newcastle United with Mike Ashley and his representatives. The crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammad Bin Salman Al Saud, and his camp are confident they will be successful with their bid, which is believed to be around £340m.
The staggering transfer budget of Newcastle United if Prince Salman took over was also revealed and the large sum of money would certainly attract some of the top names in football. While it is worth noting that Newcastle United deserve a new owner who can tap into the club’s potential and return the glory days back to St. James’ Park, I have to raise the following question: would a major takeover negatively impact the identity of Newcastle United?
The positives of a major takeover are obvious as the club’s objectives would, in theory, change from avoiding relegation to competing for a spot among the top six to play in Europe, and maybe even chase the Premier League title. On the other end, though, my greatest fear is the negative transformation of this club.
We have all witnessed the rise of “plastic” fans, for the lack of a better word, with teams like Manchester City, Leicester City and, to a certain extent, Wolverhampton. The last thing I want to see is the passion the supporters show for this club to fade due to an influx of bandwagon fans who primarily chase top stars when they transfer to a new club.
Being born and raised in the United States, I had the easy option of choosing to support Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool or Arsenal as a kid because they were the only English teams shown on American television, but I chose to support Newcastle United. The primary factor behind this decision, which still surprises many of my acquaintances here across the Atlantic, is the Toon Army.
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There is no doubt that Newcastle United have the best supporters in all of England, and one could argue that they are among the most passionate supporters in all of Europe. St. James’ Park is one of the only grounds in England where it is difficult to spot a cell phone in the stands after a goal is scored, and the club’s fans always leave other supporters surprised with how vocal they are on the road. The best example of this can be found from a game earlier this season when Newcastle United were thrashed 5-0 by Leicester City at the King Power Stadium. The Toon Army continued to sing “Who’s that team we call United” despite the result.
The examples of the Toon Army’s loyalty and fervent support are endless. Now, I understand that things would change with the arrival of a new owner, such as Prince Salman. Quality players would walk through the doors and help elevate the status of the club in England and in Europe, but I hope that whoever the new owner may be in the future realizes how important this club is to the community.
Of course it would be nice to see star players wear the black and white stripes under the lights of St. James’ Park, and witnessing the team raise a few trophies would be an amazing sight, but it would honestly mean nothing if Newcastle United lost its identity.
This is an iconic club with rich history and amazing fans, and if a takeover does miraculously happen, I hope the community’s voice is heard and the fans’ interests come before everything else. That might be wishful thinking on my end, but as a longtime supporter of this club I only want what is best for the team and those who support it week in and week out.