We’re the one set of fans who aren’t allowed to comment on matters of a Geordie flavour without insult (Mackem scum! Enjoy Burton! Where are your keys, good Sir?) but on the other hand we are best qualified to assess whether Newcastle United fans have utterly lost grip on reality. The reaction to their takeover being canned (I’m funny, not a lot of people know that) was, and remains, amusing. Surgeons across Sunderland are doing a roaring trade, such are the number of sides which require stitching back together urgently, as Mohammed bin Salman threw his toys out the pram and into the Persian Gulf.
Sorry Newcastle fans, you’re sticking your fingers further into your ears than Ayoze Perez, he was going to be running your club and there is no way he would have passed the owners’ and directors’ test. Just read section F1.6 - you know it’s the one seemingly crossed out by all those fans who refuse to look facts in the face? The “reasonable” opinion of the board means there doesn’t need to be a legal burden of proof. I just don’t understand why people can’t see that? The end. No further discussion. Move on.
Although you can see their pain; 13 years of it they say - that UEFA cup semi-final in 2013 was excruciating, wasn’t it? Oh, what a bore finishing 5th in the Premier League was. £40m on a striker is disgusting, although it’s difficult to express just how crap he has been. That Championship winning year was so terrible that Mark Douglas of the Chronicle wrote a book about the Rafalution - the gaffa that just got you. Sadly the myth of Newcastle has taken hold, and we see the same lines carted out time and again about how they’ve been badly done to, wronged and disrespected by... well I don’t actually know who, really.
Maybe it’s just difficult to accept no one finds you interesting any more, and never really did. If you want to know what it’s like to be forgotten, then you should ask Sunderland fans. Who, in turn, might want to ask Bury fans.
Ultimately Mike Ashley just isn’t the owner for Newcastle’s support, because the perception amongst many is that relegation battles and mid-table finishes are the exception rather than the norm. The norm of course being the handful of good seasons in the 90s and early 00s and the glory days of the 50s, when yer Da was still at the teet and outside toilets were the norm. Think on this: any Newcastle fan from their 20s down knows only mediocrity. And that, my friends, is your role in the new world order.
At this point, any of our chums reading this will have furiously taken to Twitter to instruct Steve Wraith (I know, me neither until last month, but Google him) to take time out from retweeting Saudi bots to tell his followers - the ones he hasn’t blocked, anyway - to say nasty things about their pals from down the road. So let’s talk about Sunderland, shall we?
Through the mirth, the lols and the pure theatre of the last four months, there is something worth considering here. Essentially what football fans want is good governance of their club to make sure they are competitive, financially sound and not put at risk of something terrible happening, like falling into League One.
And that’s the crux of this, it’s not about who buys you, it’s about the people who own you. What would you be willing to accept as the price of seeing the back of the current owners? Stewart Donald has received many column inches on here over the last two years, for good reasons and bad. The question is, in an alternative reality, and PIF came knocking at the door of Stewart’s Oxfordshire pad with a megabucks offer, would you be happy to welcome them with open arms?
In many ways, Armageddon has already arrived at the doorstep of the good ship Sunderland. We are already in League One. So do you now think “sod it, I’ll take anyone to get us back to the Premier League?”
Would you put a Saudi flag on your Twitter handle? Or would you refuse to attend matches, so as not to be complicit in the human rights which are occuring in Saudi Arabia? Would you petition the EFL if it didn’t go through, as well as fans of other clubs to support your protest? What if it wasn’t PIF but someone with a dodgy past if they promised to invest millions? Someone who there were concerns (financial or moral) about?
Would you back them?
History is littered with owners who it transpires are charlatans, snake oil salesmen, and crooks; almost all of these tenures have ended badly. Just ask fans of Wigan, Blackpool, Bury, Luton, Portsmouth, Leeds, and many others. Of the 64 clubs to go into administration, 44 of them have been since the turn of the century. It shows that people are willing to buy clubs who either do not have the means to run them, or are doing so for spurious purposes.
Just this last couple of weeks we have seen William Storey promise the earth. There have been plenty willing to listen, to give him a chance and to get behind the fact he might deliver on his promises. Now he may just have £50m stuffed down the back of the sofa; alternatively, it might all be a mirage. He might be smoke and mirrors, he might be doing things for his own, personal gain. We just do not know.
Whatever the truth, and as difficult as it might seem, we should not just take any port in a storm simply to see the back of Madrox. Sunderland fans must all think about whom they want as their next owners, and just what they would be willing to accept. The position the club is in right now is not good, that much is obvious; but in the words of that famous BTO song, “You ain’t seen nothing yet.”