I was privileged to attend the Newcastle United Supporters Trust Zoom meeting yesterday 7th August 2020 which set out to discuss:

The Trust’s plans in the campaign for transparency from the Premier League on the Newcastle United takeover process


What the Trust and its members have learned from the process and what it means for the future of Newcastle United

The meeting was for Trust members – of which there are now apparently around 14,000.

I first joined the Trust in June 2014 and was member number 2828. I thought I was still a member because I’ve always received the mailouts etc – but on checking today it appears my membership lapsed at some point.

So I was technically at yesterday’s meeting under false pretences!

Profuse apologies to any NUST Board members hearing this but just to say I’ve put that right this morning and am now member 12 thousand summat or other! Wonder if I’ll get me old membership number back? Oh well!!

So where are we and what was discussed at the meeting?

Well the meeting was chaired by George Caulkin of the Athletic, and chaired very well I might add. There were statements from himself and some prominent NUST Board members then the meeting was thrown open to any attendees who wanted to have a say.

We’re in a bit of a limbo at the moment as on the one hand we know the Consortium have withdrawn their offer to buy NUFC, but on the other hand we seem to be getting messages that they’re still keen to buy it – and Mike Ashley is still keen to sell it to them.

Make of that what you will.

We also know that after 17 weeks, the Premier League were incapable of making a decision on the deal and have consistently refused to make any public comment or statement as to why.

We also know that the Premier League told the consortium they had decided they wouldn’t actually make a decision but would just sit on the decision and let things drift.

Words like unbelievable, scandalous, unprofessional, disgraceful, disgusting etc spring to mind.

Some folks are even openly talking of corruption when describing the Premier League’s attitude and inaction and the allegations coming out about which other parties may have been heavily involved in influencing the decision.

Amanda Staveley, know fondly as “Wor Mandy” in these parts has said this: “If the fans want this back on, then they’re going to have to go to the Premier League and say this isn’t fair”

And that’s pretty much what the fans have been doing.

As I write this – a petition seeking an investigation into the Premier League’s handling of the takeover is rapidly approaching 100,000 signatures

Thousands of emails/letters have been sent to MPs

Just under 20 MPs have written to the Premier League demanding clarification

The Independent Football Ombudsman has also been contacted and this was his reply:

“I sympathise with you and other Newcastle United supporters over the ownership issue and the recent withdrawal of the offer to buy the club. As you know the change of ownership of a big club is a complex issue and you will also be aware that there has been criticism of the football authorities for some previous failings in the vetting of new owners. It follows that the Premier League needed to do the proper due diligence in a thorough manner. It is now clear that this was not straightforward and regrettably there was delay, which led to much frustration among the fans. While acknowledging your disappointment at the outcome, I have to inform you that neither the ownership of clubs nor the operation of the Owners and Directors Test fall within the remit of the IFO. The resolution of the takeover issue was clearly the responsibility of the Premier League and you will need to pursue your concerns with the League. I understand that the Newcastle United Supporters Trust has requested that the Premier League should make a statement to fans explaining how the case was handled. This seems to be a reasonable request and I will advise the Premier League accordingly. I am sorry that I cannot assist you further and can only advise that you consider contacting your MP and the Minister for Sport at the DCMS


Professor Derek Fraser

Now I don’t believe that politics should ever have a place in sport – which is why I have maintained all the way through that many of the arguments against the takeover were irrelevant and outwith the remit of the Premier League.

And those who know me also know I’m a socialist and a member of the Labour Party.

But at this point, I’ll put my own views to one side and talk about your Prime Minister (not mine) Boris Johnson.

Ever the populist, Boris “If there’s votes for me in it I’ll do it” Johnson has made his views known. The key bit of his announcement urged the Premier League to make a statement on the takeover, and specifically said:

“There must be clarity on why there was a significant delay in a decision being made, and on the reasons why the consortium decided to withdraw their bid”

Undoubtedly, the pressure on the Premier League to come clean is mounting with every passing hour.

Other points raised at the NUST meeting included a suggestion that maybe the Reuben Brothers had the wealth to buy the club anyway without the Saudi’s. However it was confirmed that whilst they were committed to the consortium offer, there was no indication that they would wish to become the prime bidder.

There were also a few suggestions about cancelling Sky and BT subscriptions as a protest. Personally, I have always found that things like that don’t get widespread support – as we are essentially asking people to give up something they enjoy doing!

Remember the spectacular failure of attempts to get fans to stay away from St James’ Park? Enough said!

Final word to Wor Mandy, who issued the following statement on behalf of the consortium:

“I would like to thank the Newcastle United Supporters’ Trust and all Newcastle fans for their incredible backing and huge efforts over the past few days and beyond.

“I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Speaking on behalf of myself and my husband, the Reuben family and the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia, we are not just overwhelmed by your support, we are humbled by it.

“Our group has received emails and messages in the thousands and I can’t begin to tell you what that means to us. We do not take it for granted.

“We understand that a strong Supporters’ Trust means a strong Newcastle. And we understand and have seen again just how powerful and beautiful a united Newcastle can truly be.

“Thank you again. Amanda.”


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