No End in Sight to the Newcastle United Takeover Saga

Newcastle United fans could be forgiven for feeling sceptical about the latest development in the long-running takeover saga.

Singaporean-backed firm Bellagraph Nova say they are still pursuing a deal for the club, despite there being more questions than answers regarding their set-up.

One of the company’s co-founders, Evangeline Shen, told the BBC that her team is in regular contact with the Premier League club.

However, revelations regarding the newly-merged group have set alarm bells ringing amongst a fanbase who have been badly let down before.

Shen, who co-founded Bellagraph Nova with business partners and cousins Nelson and Terence Loh, has claimed that talks are ongoing with current owner Mike Ashley.

“We are always in contact and we are still very aggressive on trying to close the deal,” she said. “I can tell you our team just met Mike Ashley’s representative last week on the process in Paris again.”

Bellagraph Nova made a £280 million bid for the club after a £300m deal with Saudi Arabia’s Private Investment Fund collapsed back in August.

The firm claims to have generated revenues of $12 billion during 2019, but analysts have cast doubt on the legitimacy of the figure.

Shen has dismissed the accusations, but Newcastle supporters are likely to remain unconvinced until Ashley is finally gone from the club.

The billionaire was angered by the Premier League’s decision to block the sale of Newcastle to the Saudi-led consortium and has appointed Blackstone Chambers law firm to challenge the decision.

Ashley is aiming to prove that the league’s owners and directors test was not properly applied to the proposed buyers.

If Ashley can win the case, he believes that he will be able to reignite interest from the Saudi group and maybe even spark a bidding war for the club.

American businessman Henry Mauriss was also rumoured to be in the running, with various media outlets reporting that he made a £350m bid for the club earlier this year.

Mauriss is currently the CEO of US cable network ClearTV and the Principal of Credit America Corporation, and has forged strong links with US broadcasting giants NBC and CBS.

Ashley’s stance appears to suggest that he is serious about relinquishing control of Newcastle, but the situation is unlikely to be resolved quickly.

In a recent interview with ChronicleLive, football finance expert Kieran Maguire believes that it could be 2021 before the outcome is known.

“I’ve not seen something of this nature before, although I’ve seen certain parallels at Charlton Athletic where they’ve had owners for about four or five months who were then trying to sell the club,” he said.

“They found a buyer, the buyer got rejected by the EFL and that buyer took an injunction against another potential owner to stop them.

“If we take a look at how long it took the EFL having brought charges, to have those charges dealt with in a football court with a sports resolution body, I think we probably are talking months.

“It will take the people at Blackstone Chambers a considerable amount of time to gather the evidence which they want to use to form the basis of their effective prosecution of the Premier League.

“Equally, the Premier League will be gathering evidence for its legal team. I think we’re talking many months before this comes to court, or it could be settled out of court for all we know.”

Whatever the outcome of the legal wrangling, Newcastle fans will hope that a swift resolution is found so that the club can finally rid itself of Ashley.