Newcastle United: Understanding the petition and its importance

Newcastle United's stadium: St. James' Park. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Newcastle United's stadium: St. James' Park. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images) /

As a member club of the Premier League, Newcastle United deserve some answers from the front office in London regarding the failed takeover.

The Toon Army is all over the Premier League for their inactivity and indecisiveness regarding the takeover of Newcastle United.

Fans in the north east are monitoring the situation closely, especially now that a petition was created with the aim of getting an answer from Richard Masters has gotten over 105,000 signatures. These impressive numbers also incited several MPs to formally express the concerns of their constituents to the Premier League.

In this article, I will do my best to explain to our neutral readers how this petition came about, and why it is so important to the fans of Newcastle United. Most non-Newcastle fans share the assumption that the Toon Army cannot handle or cope with rejection, but that is far from the truth. The petition is not a tantrum, but rather a catalyst for triggering accountability.

After submitting the takeover paperwork to the Premier League in the second week of April, the consortium of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), Amanda Staveley, and the Reuben brothers were optimistic that they would be handed the keys to St. James’ Park.

Fast-forward seventeen weeks later and what would have been the wealthiest football ownership group backed out of the deal.

Why? It is not because they no longer had an interest in purchasing Newcastle United, but because of the lack of progress and communication from the Premier League. It’s almost as if league authorities were planning to protect the status quo at the top end of the table by swiping the deal under the rug. That’s not fair, the Premier League would never do that… (insert wink here).

The Owners’ and Directors’ test only takes, on average, two to four weeks to complete, but months passed by and the league gave no indication of where they were in their review process.

From the would-be owners’ perspective, pulling out of the deal might prove to be an effective idea as it does two things. Firstly, it showcases Richard Masters’ incompetence as the chief executive of the Premier League. Secondly, and most importantly, this move places the pressure of accountability on the executive board that makes takeover decisions.

Had the Premier League made the decision to reject the takeover, would Newcastle United fans be upset and complain?

Of course, but that is a natural and expected reaction for fervent supporters, but they would not go blaming the Premier League all day and night if proper evidence stating why the deal was rejected per the criteria of the test would be provided. I mean we are all aware of the Saudi’s human rights record, even though human rights records are not part of the Owners’ and Directors’ test as the review process focuses on financial statuses and financial capability.

If the Premier League approved the takeover, the Toon Army would be thrilled, for obvious reasons, but they would still speak their minds and argue that the process was dragged on for far too long, which impacts the team’s preparation for the 2020-21 campaign.

Seeing that the takeover was not approved nor rejected, but the buying party pulled out of the deal, that is where this petition comes into play.

Whether you support Newcastle United or not, the way the Premier League sat on their hands during this entire process is unacceptable. The takeover of any member club, not just Newcastle United, should be treated with the same level of attention, share the same level of scrutiny, and should be handled in a timely manner… not seventeen weeks.

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This was not the case with Newcastle United. The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Boris Johnson even went on record agreeing with Newcastle United fans that the Premier League needs to be transparent regarding their review and indecisiveness of this particular takeover.

The inactivity from London has placed a ceiling on the potential success of the club heading into next season and others going forward as the would-be owners were unable to take charge and implement their transfer plan, hire a manager of their choosing, and set their own objectives.

At first, most people assumed that the break in play due to the global pandemic would slow the process down, but sources close to Premier League executives claimed that Project Restart had no impact in their review of the takeover.

Okay… so why was addressing this deal a nominal concern for the Premier League?

After seeing an ambitious consortium that could have revived this great club and invest heavily in the community walk away from the table because of how the Premier League handled the situation (by avoiding it), Newcastle United fans deserve answers.

The Premier League needs to own up to their actions, or in this case their inactivity, and explain why they have dragged the process on for as long as they have.

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As a Newcastle United supporter myself, I hope all of you reading this article join this fan-led initiative by adding your digital signature to the petition (sign here). Every member club is equal, and the Premier League needs to be reminded of that.