Takeover watchers noted Mike Ashley’s QC Nick de Marco rack up two notable wins this week – on behalf of the PFA in the EFL salary cap row and in the Harvey Elliot compensation case.
It comes as the Notebook learns the consortium has “supreme confidence” in the strength of Ashley’s case against the Premier League and a belief that a deal can still be brokered to buy Newcastle.
That’s the word from the top from those attempting to resurrect a deal that has laid dormant since the summer – despite attempts to spark it into life with political pressure and further discussions with the Premier League in the autumn. Ashley is now pursuing legal routes with De Marco, whose two wins this week illustrate how formidable he is on matters of sporting procedure, one of those hired to help the arbitration case.
It’s understood rival interest in the club remains, but with Ashley focusing on the PIF-driven deal that is on the back burner. RedBall Acquisition Corp, who tried to buy a stake of Liverpool recently before a deal fell through, are looking at multiple Premier League opportunities – including United.
Joe DaGrosa, whose GACP Capital group were in advanced negotiations for United recently, was credited with an interest this week as his deal to buy Southampton floundered.
The Bellagraph Nova Group’s audacious bid to buy Newcastle United made headlines last year but the woes of two of the men behind it continue.
Nelson Loh, one of two cousins credited with being the driving force of the bid when it emerged in the autumn, has been declared bankrupt in a court in Singapore.
He left the country at the end of 2020, which led to cousin Terence – also facing bankruptcy proceedings – claiming he felt “betrayed”. He had faced heavy criticism for a farcical “bid” to buy Newcastle which saw photographs doctored, outrageous claims of potentially buying Cristiano Ronaldo and incredible attempts to convince journalists that they had the money to buy the club.
Loh has now been declared bankrupt. The Straits Times reports he “failed to pay an outstanding debt of over $14 million to DBS Bank” and was declared bankrupt in December – but the case only emerged recently.
Of all the bids to buy the club in recent years, it’s safe to say this one has unravelled most spectacularly.
Newcastle will lose as much as £25million in matchday income this season, raising questions about how much manager Steve Bruce’s transfer budget in the summer will be crunched.
United’s annual accounts are due this Spring – last year’s were published in May – and detailed £51million of income in matchday revenue and commercial income. That will be hugely impacted by playing behind-closed-doors – with ticket revenue down to zero – and other corporate events all off.
The Magic Weekend’s return this season – if Covid restrictions allow – gives an opportunity to claw back some money but there’s an element of financial realism about how much Newcastle may be able to spend in the summer.
Expiring contracts and the TV money will enable them to invest but most clubs in the Premier League will have to tighten their belts. Last summer’s spending was partly financed by money saved by not spending in the January 2020 window.
A move for PSV Eindhoven’s USA under-23 international Chris Gloster in January was dashed because of Brexit regulations, according to sources.
Gloster is a promising left-back who had caught the eye of United scouts. In previous years he may have been able to sign a deal based on residency but the Premier League’s new rules mean that he has not played enough games for PSV’s first team to qualify for an automatic permit.
Newcastle will continue to monitor Gloster, who was available in January as he looks to get more first team matches.
Newcastle are looking at centre-backs to refresh their squad for the next summer.
Fede Fernandez and Fabian Schar are both out of contract and either could move on – while Steve Bruce has told scouts to identify possible targets both in England and Europe.
United’s group of centre-backs have been excellent for three seasons now but there have been more injuries of late and there’s an acknowledgement the club may have to shuffle their pack in the close season.
Ciaran Clark was handed a new deal earlier this year.