Sunday 5 October ~
These are momentous times for Everton. Defeat to Newcastle this afternoon will set a club record for their worst ever start to a season at home - they haven't lost their opening four matches since becoming one of the League's founder members in 1888. On a more positive note, manager David Moyes says he is finally ready to sign the new contract that has been the subject of tortuous negotiations for several months. And it seems that club is set to announce a change in ownership – although whether that will be a good or bad development won't become clear for a while.
According to the Mail on Sunday two bidders are to expected to make formal offers soon. The paper characteristically sees this as another club "falling into foreign hands", a terminology popularised in Victorian defective fiction when government secrets were acquired by agents of a rival power.
Of course, the problem isn't the "foreignness" or otherwise of the growing number of billionaire owners of Premier League clubs, but fact they are saddling their clubs with huge debts to fund their takeover and the resultant spending on the squad. There is also the issue of the steps they might consider taking to "protect" their investment in the long term. This could include sealing off the league to ensure that their clubs will never be threatened by relegation and the precipitous falling off in income that would bring about. This is also a concern of clubs without sugar daddies, such as Bolton whose chairman Phil Gartside issued a plaintive cry this week – "we can't go on doing this, we will all go bust!" – while calling for the creation of something we are, alas, set to hear a lot more about: Premier League II.
Meanwhile, Mike Ashley, the English billionaire who has done more damage to his club than any other owner in the history of Premier League, is preparing to bow out. Newcastle have set a deadline of Tuesday for takeover bids with seven prospective buyers lined up. It's not clear how many of these bidders would reappoint the man brought back then dumped by Mike Ashley. Kevin Keegan himself seems to think that he is set to return as he reportedly indicated to several Newcastle players at a golf tournament last week. What is in no doubt is that caretaker manager Joe Kinnear won't be around for long. He has already made a mark on this season by his extraordinary outburst of swearing at his first press conference after taking charge. But if Newcastle are to win a game under their splenetic temp, today might be the one.