Updated: Mar 6
Last weekend brought the usual TakeOver rumours, claims and non-stories from national and local hacks alike that Newcastle United were the subject of yet another takeover bid.
This time it was the turn of the Wall Street Journal to start the ball rolling with a story stating that a £340m bid was on the table for the club from the Saudi Sovereign Wealth Fund.
As the minutes, hours and days tick by, each hour feeling like a lifetime for those fans desperate for Ashley to leave the club, the validity of a potential offer seemed more and more credible.
The stumbling block appears to be, as ever, does Mike Ashley really want to sell up. Only this time, if he doesn't, we're all going to have to concede that he never will.
With Sky Sports and the BBC running tentative stories on the matter it would certainly seem the interest is VERY real. This time there can be no doubt that the money is there, and the will of the bidding party to get a deal done is tangible. So who is behind this reported offer?
Key parties in the deal include Amanda Staveley, who seems to have adopted her usual role of broker, something she does for a living and is particularly skilled at, especially for clients in the Middle East.
The 'money men' is where it gets really interesting through. It would be enough to think that billionaire brother David and Simon Reuben were the backers of the proposed takeover. The second richest family in Britain, according to the 2019 Sunday Times Rich List, they made their fortune primarily through Real Estate. But know, by comparison to the main 'backer' of the deal, their wealth is mere pocket change.
PIF, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund, is valued at almost £2 Trillion.
You can find the original and full article from the Wall Street Journal, who broke the story, HERE.
Certainly, a diversification of investment from the Saudi's is something that is on the rise. 'Saudi Vision 2030' looks to reduce the nations dependancy on oil with a move to invest in health, education, infrastructure, recreation and tourism. The Crown Prince personally challenging the then new Council of Economic and Development Affairs with that mission.
This change in strategy from the administration has seen some significant steps into the world of sport already recently that has included a Heavyweight boxing championship fight, a Formula 1 race and the hosting of a number of club games featuring the worlds top players. A move to invest and own a club in a top European league would certainly be in keeping with this shift in priority.
So what do the media make of it all?
There is little of substance based in fact, from what we can see. No direct quotes. No official press releases. Lots of, a 'source' told me...
Form hacks of international renown to local tabloid runabouts, they are all doing what they can. Perhaps getting fragments of truth or facts on the matter, but little more tangible than that. What is clear is that the shutters have come down and that there is little to glean from their usual watering holes. To be frank, this is as it should be, if the story is true!
On Tuesday night there was the usual confusion, in the form of regurgitation and rehash from the local rag, whilst Luke Edward (a far more credible reporter with the Daily and Sunday Telegraph) dropping an intriguing post...
”Somebody, somewhere is lying. Remember that. I always do in my job".
Intriguing given he'd poured some cold water on the likelihood of any takeover over the weekend.
Meanwhile, Sky Sports Pete Graves gave an update which can be seen HERE that states the bid is real, Ashley wants to sell, and all parties are working hard to get it done.
Moments later, over at TalkSport towers, and low and behold it is our favourite pantomime villain Simon Jordan. Only his view, that 'deals get done behind closed doors and you never hear of them until their done' certainly carries some weight.
Yet, roll back just 24 hours and more from TalkSport, this time Jim White, with the presenter saying 'A financial source in the City of London has told me today that the talks are a lot more advanced that a lot of people think'. He went on to say that the wealth behind the bid was greater than all the other clubs in the Premier League put together, including City and Chelsea.
Oh, we almost forgot to mention our good fried Damian Spellman, who's latest report states that TWO bidders are talking to Mike Ashley about buying the club. Wait, what? Another mystery bidder at the last minute? Just after the leak? You don't say! Well I didn't see that coming.
It is at this point, in writing this piece, we hit CTL+C and CTL+V, pop it into a saved folder, and wait for the summer to do it all again. Probably.
Try not to be.
At the end of the day, here we are again. Another takeover rumour. At the end of another transfer window. Just before another season ticket renewal date. Leaked in the press. Parties are talking. Is there proof of funds? Have papers been lodged with the Premier League? we’ve been here before.
Who knows if Mike Ashley will ever sell the club, or if it will be handed to his children on his death bed.
We can dream, but we'd rather not, as we only get disappointed!