Sheikh Khaled bin Zayed Al Nahyan, a name that we will commit to memory for ever as Newcastle United’s new owner, or a name that will be uttered in more venomous tones on every occasion that we curse another day under the ownership of Mike Ashley.
This bank holiday weekend has been nothing short of a rollercoaster. Having trundled into yet another weekend with no news of Rafa’s new contract, things were certainly starting to look more grim for the future of United with each passing hour.
By Sunday, most Mags were at least taking delight in an injury time Charlton goal that consigned moneybags Sunderland to another season in the third tier of English football. Moneybags I hear you say? It’s true. Only as recently as the start of this season you could point to just ‘1’ of their players earning more in a season than the wage bill of entire clubs in that league.
Why bring that lot down the road into it I hear you ask…
Money. The elite in every league have that one thing in common. The reason that the Mackem’s continued struggles are mildly amusing, at the very least, is that they should be murdering that division.
In the Premier League it’s the same. Cardiff City have a player wage bill of around £40m, with the top players in the league earning £21m in basic salary and more like £30m+ with bonuses.
Unless a club is prepared to spend what it earns, even if prudent, sustaining a position in the top flight becomes more and more difficult each season. To hang around for any length of time you need either outstanding recruitment, amazing youth academy, an outstanding manager or luck. Or more than likely, a combination of all four.
This makes Newcastle United’s survival again this season all the more remarkable. One record signing, for less than most clubs pay for a full-back these days, is hardly game changing.
It’s clear, like never before, that under Mike Ashely Newcastle are only going in one direction. He’s bled the club dry. Selling assets, like the land behind St James, profiting from closing related business, even the club shop is a wolf dressed in sheep’s clothing. Then there is a lack on investment off the pitch. Dead birds hang from the stands, walls with their original lick of paint, tired carpets and don't get us started on the Training Ground.
For Newcastle fans the mere thought of a takeover is therefore the stuff of dreams.
So when news broke on Sunday night that a Sheikh from the Middle East was ‘close to buying Newcastle’ it felt like every Christmas had come at once. Surely not! And so it begins…
What we know:
Sunday 22:30: The S*n newspaper publish story claiming ‘Mike Ashely agreed to sell Newcastle for £350m
Monday 11:30: Respected sources in Abu Dhabi publish a tweet stating ‘Welcome to the Premier League’ containing a picture of bin Zayed and the Newcastle United crest, claiming the deal is ‘done’
Monday 15:00: The Chronicle publish confirmation that talks have been held but that a deal had ‘some way to go’
Monday 17:00: The bin Zayed group issue statements to the press stating “We can confirm that representatives of His Highness Sheikh Khaled Bin Zayed Al Nahyan are in discussions with Mike Ashely and his team, about the proposed acquisition of Newcastle United Football Club. We view it as an honour to have the opportunity to build on the strong support, history and tradition of the club. We have agreed terms and are working hard to complete the transaction at the earliest opportunity
Monday 18:00: The Daily Mail urge caution, stating they consider the group to be ‘time wasters’ and not sure if the funds could be raised by this group given a failed attempt to buy Liverpool a year ago
Monday 22:00: Confirmation that interested party are not ‘close’ to City owners, either physically or in terms of wealth
Tuesday 11:00: Talk Sport self proclaimed funny man Jim White spouts his propaganda on the lack of ‘anything’ going to happen ‘ever’ at Newcastle United
Tuesday 17:00: Reports in the Middle East suggest that any deal would not happen until July at the earliest.
Tuesday 18:00: Newcastle press confirm that no paperwork has been submitted to the FA
Tuesday 18:30: DeAndre Yedlin shows off his tattoos in some arty black and white movie thing!
Tuesday 19:00: Shock revelation as some planes are booked to land at an airport
Tuesday 20:30: Evening Chronicle say the Middle East party remain bullish
Tuesday 21:30: Newcastle United move into 4th place in the betting to be the next home of Kylian Mbappe. Yea. This.
In the end though. Only Mike Ashley knows for sure. Some things never change, just like the Rafa Benitez contract situation.
And on we go!