Dubai: I have a word of warning following Newcastle United’s £305 million takeover by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) - money doesn’t always buy you happiness.
The ‘Toon Army’ – now armed with a war chest of £190 million to spend on new players - are suddenly harboring hopes of becoming the biggest football club in the world. Fans are demanding players of the ilk of Messi and Ronaldo don the famous black and white kit and be managed by someone as classy as Klopp or Guardiola. They have not been English champions since 1927 and the last trophy they won was the FA Cup in 1955 but with a wave of the magic wand they want that to change immediately much like Roman Abramovich changed Chelsea’s fortunes when he bought the club in 2003 and then elevated the Londoners with regular sweeps of his chequebook.
But the reality is that Newcastle currently sit 19th in the English Premier League and have only taken three points from their opening seven games of the 2021/22 season. In fact they are yet to win a match in any competition and have a goal difference of minus eight. They’re running the very real risk becoming the biggest and richest club… in the lowly Championship.
There are still three months to go before the January transfer window opens where they will be able to splash the cash and bring in much-needed reinforcements but there is no telling how far adrift they could be from safety by the time they can start wheeling and dealing.
The team is showing no signs of improving under a manager who, following a poll, 94% of fans want out. What’s more, with their newfound wealth, they’ll suddenly find that transfer fees for potential new signings will sky rocket - but the St James’ Park club must bolster their squad in several key areas if they are to avoid the dreaded drop and build for a brighter future.
But as I say, money doesn’t guarantee success – my club Everton have been bankrolled by billionaire Farhad Moshiri for several years now and to his credit he has spent big and brought in high-profile signings in an effort to crack the top four. The best finish under his tutelage has been 7th. Now, Amanda Staveley, who headed the Saudi consortium backed by PIF, has declared that the team can become as big as Manchester City. They have the potential but this will not happen until the structure of the club is addressed. I highly doubt the services of coach Steve Bruce will be retained, not when the likes of Antonio Conte and Zinedine Zidane are available and the new owners would likely trust those two – who have managed at the highest level and won the lot – to spend their millions on new recruits over Bruce who has achieved very little other than a few manager of the month accolades.
Newcastle suddenly have the spending power to match City and even Paris Saint-Germain who made the two biggest signings in football history, that of Neymar from Barcelona and Kylian Mbappe from Monaco. So, will they become like either of those two clubs? Time will tell but as dull as it may sound, their immediate goal has to be survival - they simply must remain in the Premier League. Upgrading their Darsley Park training headquarters will be on the agenda as will improving their academy and repairs to the stadium but the new owners should invest gradually and not expect an immediate transformation of fortunes, because it does not always happen that way.
They may find attracting stellar names to the club almost impossible given their current plight which is why the new owners need to avoid any quick fixes and opt for the longer game if they want any sustainable success. But the fans can dream big and can hope for better days again - and right now that is all that matters to them.