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In what was expected to be a scrappy relegation battle for Newcastle United, the final standing of the Toon was more than respectable. With 44 points and 38 goals for, Newcastle secured 13th place, trailing 12th place by five points but standing clear of the drop by ten points. That said, it was far from not being a scrappy season. The team of famous fans, like Ant & Dec and Tim Healy, didn’t finish 2019/20 very well, at all, drawing twice and losing four matches in their final six games, but the summer seems to have brought about a sense of optimism, even if dreams were crushed en route to the start of the 2020/21 campaign.
Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley has been trying to shift the club for years, giving the team what many see as the bare minimum to keep the squad safe. Neither the owner nor the fans appear to have a desire for Ashley to remain at the helm. So, earlier this year, when a super-rich consortium of the Reuben brothers, Amanda Staveley, and the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund, headed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, came knocking, Newcastle fans, naturally, got very excited. Takeover bids had come and gone in the past, but this £300 million bid looked to be the real deal, until July that is.
On 30 July, as reported by the BBC, it became official that the Saudi Arabian-backed consortium had reluctantly pulled out of the takeover. Staveley said that “it’s awful” for the fans as the plans going forward would have pulsed a tremendous amount of investment into the long-neglected club and the surrounding area. According to manager Steve Bruce, the investment “might have lifted the club into the realms of a Manchester City maybe, or a Chelsea.” The money was there, and the transfer plans for the build were in place, ready for a smooth transition and action as soon as possible.
Since the takeover fell apart, the Premier League and Newcastle United have publicly been going at it, with each accusing the other of failing to fulfil their duties. The club stated that it doesn’t believe that the league‘s chief executive, Richard Masters, acted appropriately, with the Premier League’s riposte being that the assertion is “incorrect,” according to reports. The saga doesn’t appear to have ended with the consortium pulling out, with the club and league still locking horns. Despite the conflict, the Premier League is still open to the planned takeover “should the relevant entities provide all appropriate information.” So, 2020 might yet see a Newcastle United takeover.
Strangely enough, somewhat of a buzz has returned to Newcastle United, despite the takeover falling apart down the stretch. It’s possible that it’s down to a takeover almost becoming a reality, which barely seemed possible even when the club was publicly put up for sale. However, onlookers still see a difficult season ahead. In the calculations of league standings predictions by Five Thirty Eight, Newcastle have a 31 percent chance of going down, as of 11 September, just one percent more than the closest relegation team, Fulham. Other sources of expert rankings see the Toon as having a slightly better chance of not getting relegated, however. As of 14 September, Betway has Newcastle United at 9/2 to go down, with nine other teams deemed to be more likely to get relegated.
In terms of money put down, the team known for its involvement in one of the most bizarre transfers hasn’t spent a lot, but Bruce has been able to reel in some squad-strengthening, Premier League talents for 2020/21. As shown when Newcastle pinched Stuart Pearce from the relegation-bound Nottingham Forest, the club doesn’t have any fear about snapping up the top talents of dropping teams. This year, they picked up Callum Wilson for £20 million from Bournemouth, his teammate Ryan Fraser for free, and Norwich City left-back Jamal Lewis for £15 million. Newcastle have worked the open market a treat, also bringing in athletic midfield goal threat Jeff Hendrick, who has been well-versed under demanding Burnley boss Sean Dyche.
Without losing any main squad players while strengthening the matchday squad with four solid players, Newcastle United has undoubtedly improved this summer. Even though the big takeover didn’t come to fruition for the start of the campaign, the proven and exciting new players in the team should provide Newcastle United fans more entertainment each weekend.