Newcastle were once a favourite ‘second club’ but Saudis will not win over many neutrals with plenty willing whoever takes over from Steve Bruce to fail
On Tuesday night, Yasir al-Rumayyan met the Queen – and we are not talking Amanda Staveley.
Al-Rumayyan was in Windsor, where Her Majesty was greeting guests, including Bill Gates and Boris Johnson, at the Global Investment Summit.
Presumably, Al-Rumayyan was not there in his capacity as Newcastle United chairman but as a representative for Saudi Arabian trade and investment.
In the unlikely event of anyone needing another snippet of evidence that the Saudi state will have a major say in the running of a Premier League club, you could take this as a little nugget.
But we all know that, anyway. As does the rest of the Premier League, hence the emergency vote on temporarily blocking teams agreeing lucrative sponsorship deals with companies linked to a club’s owners.
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Eighteen clubs were in favour, with Manchester City, who have been known to use this practice, abstaining.
Practically, a short-term block seems a little irrelevant and if it is extended, Newcastle would surely have a pretty strong legal case, considering how many such deals have been previously done.
But this vote was more of a statement, more of an official registration of objection to the Saudi Arabian takeover.
This was a message to say that, while the Premier League board might have finally given the green light to the takeover, the really important people who make up this glorified private members’ club are not happy.
This was retrospective blackballing.
It is a bit, pardon the pun, rich for some of the owners to be dissatisfied with happenings at St James’ Park but that is the way it is.
If the takeover has not gone down well within the boardroom corridors up and down the country, it is hardly any more popular amongst rank and file football fans.
There was a Kevin Keegan-time when Newcastle United was a ‘second club’ for a lot of supporters.
But, while Mike Ashley probably put an end to that sort of idea, there will now be an active dislike for Newcastle, born of distaste for the ownership and for the money.
Let’s put it this way, there are going to be very few neutrals willing Newcastle United – who once embodied the romanticism of football – to cut some sort of glorious swathe through the Premier League.
On the other hand, there are now plenty who think it would be hilarious if they were relegated.
And these negative feelings from outside a city that is united in its delight with the new ownership is what will make the recruitment of the right manager and players a tough business.
Yes, they have the cash, the stadium and a smashing fanbase. But it is clear other clubs will not be queuing up to do business with them and they will be met with disdain from other supporters wherever they go.
That should not matter and a lot of players and managers would trade popularity for untold riches.
But whether it be Paulo Fonseca, Lucien Favre, Roberto Martinez, or whoever, taking over the managerial reins from Steve Bruce, one thing is for sure.
It will be a very lucrative job. It could also be the most difficult one.
And that is why many fine candidates will not go near it.