Tuesday 9 June ~
Yesterday Newcastle revealed a new and desperate method of attracting prospective suitors, people who will, it is hoped, end Mike Ashley’s disastrous tenure as owner. Yet the hasty takeover of West Ham, by the creditors of Bjorgolfur Gudmundsson, indicates how there are currently few around that are willing to invest. Reactions to the move to place a For Sale sign on Newcastle's website were predictably derisive. ”eBay the lads”, said the Sun. ”Joke.co.uk”, in the Mirror. Sunderland fans did not limp in making their offers, which ranged from confectionery to £10.
It is unclear how the ill-advised ad, akin to those that promote the replica shirts or trainers of Ashley's Sports Direct stores, will attract anything more serious than these spoofs. Investors possessing the £100 million to match the asking price are unlikely to conduct their football club shopping on the web. They more often prefer to be courted by middlemen, such as the ubiquitous Keith Harris of Seymour Pierce. Harris may now wonder what role his is (assuming that he wasn't directly responsible for the advert).
Two weeks into the close season, Newcastle are directionless. No pre-season arrangements have been made, deliberation continues over the suitability of Alan Shearer as manager and the future of an expensive playing squad is uncertain, though Aston Villa and Fulham are chasing Michael Owen. Meanwhile, over £100m is owed to Ashley. Some may believe the club represents a wise investment at a cut price. But the loss of Premier League status means their debts will grow each year, during which time promotion for a reconfigured side will be difficult. Even were they were an attraction, few globally have the funds to buy a football club anyway. Though the Daily Telegraph do report that a local consortium, involving Freddie Shepherd, is interested.
West Ham will be cited as a sign of hope for clubs waiting to be taken over. Gianfranco Zola has been promised funds for new players and things at the club appear well. However the deal, which saw ownership shift from Bjorgolfur Gudmundsson to CB Holdings, was more forced than planned. CB (Claret and Blue) is the investment vehicle of, among others, Straumur-Burdaras Investment Bank, Iceland. They are owed £80m by Gudmundsson and took control of the Hammers to protect their position. They intend to sell in a few years when economic conditions improve.