Following a significant amount of correspondence from constituents regarding the Premier League’s delay in making a decision over the recently abandoned purchase of Newcastle United, Mary has written to the Premier League to demand answers as to why the process took so long, and why communication with fans groups was so poor.
Mary’s letter reads:
I’m writing to you to represent the views of the many constituents who have been in touch with me over the collapse of the Newcastle United takeover deal and the failure of the Premier League to communicate with fan groups in the region over the course of a lengthy period of uncertainty.
Football means so much to people in the North East. People from outside of the region often don’t quite understand this, but it is such an important part of so many people’s everyday lives up here in the North East, that when our clubs fall on hard times it affects whole communities. As the late Bobby Robson said:
“What is a club in any case? Not the buildings or the directors or the people who are paid to represent it. It’s not the television contracts, get-out clauses, marketing departments or executive boxes. It’s the noise, the passion, the feeling of belonging, the pride in your city.”
This is the case for football right across the region and I would take up the cases of constituents who support other clubs – be that Durham Women, Sunderland, Middlesbrough or a range of smaller, local clubs in my constituency. That’s because football is at the heart of our communities.
Over the last week, I have been contacted by numerous constituents who are Newcastle United supporters, many showing obvious disappointment that the takeover deal (agreed by the current owner, Mike Ashley, and a consortium of PCP, the Reuben Brothers and the Public Investment Fund (PIF) of Saudi Arabia) has collapsed, but most of all at the Premier League’s handling of the situation. Those fans are asking for transparency from the Premier League about the collapse of the deal to buy the club.
Whatever you think about that deal, the club has been in limbo for months – 17 weeks in all – which is an unfair situation for both the club, the players and its supporters. This latest uncertainty has been on top of many years of turmoil at the club, where owner Mike Ashley has clearly been looking for a way out for some time, yet a solution has been elusive. Newcastle fans have been protesting at Mike Ashley’s running of the club for many years and it’s understandable that the consortium bid was seen as an answer to this very difficult situation.
I have been keeping a close eye on the takeover situation as it has progressed, and I think it is right that the Premier League look carefully at the suitability of potential owners through their ‘fit and proper’ owner test, as well as looking at the connections between PIF, the Saudi Government and human rights violations in the Middle East. I understand too, that the Premier League would want to establish the facts on broadcast rights in the region and issues regarding broadcast piracy.
What I find difficult to comprehend is why this process would take over four months and why, during that time, no communication or answers have been forthcoming to the fans in the region who have been waiting for a decision. I’m sure you, like me, acknowledge that fans are at the heart of the game and they deserve to be treated with respect.
I am aware that the Newcastle United Supporters Trust (NUST) have a series of as yet unanswered questions about the collapse of the takeover bid and the prolonged process which appears to have resulted in the withdrawal of the PCP consortium. NUST are demanding some clarity on that process. In that, I support them, and I hope you will take the time to engage with them and respond to their questions in detail.
I look forward to hearing from you soon.