The first reaction of most devotees of Newcastle United will be of despair at the collapse of the Saudi bid for their club. In part that will be over the loss of the potential petrodollars which would have coming their way had the deal gone through.
Equally though it will be because of the continued stewardship of Mike Ashley.
Even when Ashley agrees a price to sell Newcastle United, the many fans who hate him can’t rid themselves of him.
The bungee rope that was on the point of finally snapping is returning at a rate of knots with the Sports Director mogul still attached.
Try as they might, Newcastle’s careworn flock cannot blame this latest disappointment at the door of the club’s despised owner.
If anyone deserves their opprobrium it is the Premier League for the time it has taken to go through the takeover process.
The Saudis grew tired of the delay, uncomfortable with the scrutiny into the links with the country’s ruling regime and walked.
But there is either proper scrutiny of these transactions or there isn’t. The fit and proper persons provision is either observed or it isn’t.
Enough criticism has been levelled at football waving through buyers with too few questions asked. You can’t have it both ways.
In truth, it is a result that suits the Premier League. The benefits of inward investment would have been comfortably counterbalanced by the awkward presence at their table of a de-facto representative of the Saudi government.
This is after all a government which has been accused to silencing dissenting voices like that of Jamal Khasshoggi in a gruesome fashion.
Newcastle’s loss? In financial terms yes, but as custodians they can do better.
They remain an attractive proposition – an iconic name in a one-club city which lives and breathes football – and there are other interested parties.
All they have to do is prise Ashley’s hands off the club once and for all.
Full Newcastle statement from PIF, Amanda Staveley and Reuben Brothers
“With a deep appreciation for the Newcastle community and the significance of its football club, we have come to the decision to withdraw our interest in acquiring Newcastle United Football Club.
“We do so with regret, as we were excited and fully committed to invest in the great city of Newcastle and believe we could have returned the club to the position of its history, tradition and fans’ merit.
“Unfortunately, the prolonged process under the current circumstances coupled with global uncertainty has rendered the potential investment no longer commercially viable.
“To that end, we feel a responsibility to the fans to explain the lack of alternatives from an investment perspective.
“As an autonomous and purely commercial investor, our focus was on building long-term value for the club, its fans and the community as we remained committed to collaboration, practicality and proactivity through a difficult period of global uncertainty and significant challenges for the fans and the club.
“Ultimately, during the unforeseeably prolonged process, the commercial agreement between the Investment Group and the club’s owners expired and our investment thesis could not be sustained, particularly with no clarity as to the circumstances under which the next season will start and the new norms that will arise for matches, training and other activities.
“As often occurs with proposed investments in uncertain periods, time itself became an enemy of the transaction, particularly during this difficult phase marked by the many real challenges facing us all from Covid-19
“We feel great compassion for the Newcastle United fans with whom we shared a great commitment to help Newcastle United harness its tremendous potential and build upon its impressive and historic legacy while working closely with the local community.
“We would like to say that we truly appreciated your incredible expressions of support and your patience throughout this process.
“We are sorry it is not to be. We wish the team and everyone associated with it much good luck and success.”