After Newcastle United’s proposed £300m takeover fell through, the Magpies faithful collectively launched a campaign in order to demand transparency from the Premier League as to why no decision was made.
The prospective purchasers – a Saudi Arabian-backed consortium - withdrew their bid due to the equivocating nature of the Premier League, who lingered on the deal for 17 weeks without making a decision to deem the buyers fit for purpose or not. While most other clubs would simply allow the issue to pass on, this was not the case for the Toon Army – who hold their club so close to their hearts.
Immediately after the news was announced, a petition was raised urging the government to conduct an independent investigation into the Premier League’s takeover process. In just over a week, the petition amassed more than 100,000 signatures, highlighting the demand for answers by Magpies supporters.
A number of Newcastle cult heroes – including Faustino Asprilla and Ant & Dec – reposted the petition on social media, engaging with their worldwide fanbase to also support the cause. The petition was inaugurated for fans to be enlightened as to why the process had ceased, after almost four months without a decision.
Interacting with MPs
Another method used by the Geordies in their attempt to seek lucidity is interacting with their local MPs. Since the takeover collapsed, over 6000 letters have been sent by supporters to their MPs, with 26 MPs subsequently writing directly to the Premier League on behalf of the fans.
In addition, over 400 MPs have been in touch with the Newcastle United Supporter’s trust and are also supporting their endeavours. The vast volume of numbers indicates the unity within the North-east, as well as the impact the football club has on the region. Furthermore, this involvement also implies that the local politicians have deep interests in their constituents’ well-being, which has all stemmed from Newcastle United being the heartbeat of the city.
Spamming social media
Another approach which the Geordies have resorted to is indiscriminately ‘commenting’ on every single post that the Premier League page shares on social media: be it Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. Such comments frequently include corruption claims as well as questioning why no decision was made, with an excessive amount of ‘memes’ also used in addition.
This tactic was the most common, given the ease in nature as well as the strength in voice that social media allows. As a result of the pulverising nature of the Newcastle fans, the Premier League temporarily switched the commenting feature off, on their Instagram page, with the Geordies inferring this action as a small victory, with the account evidently acknowledging select comments.
Visiting Premier League HQ
A small group of determined Toon fans took it in their own hands to gain clarity by voyaging the length of the county to protest outside the Premier League headquarters in London. After being initiated by one supporter on Twitter, a unit of around ten fans managed to assemble in a peaceful protest, involving banners, while also questioning the staff of the PL HQ who noticed them. Multiple requests were made to speak to PL chief executive Richard Masters.
As this was more hopeful than realistic, messages were passed on to his colleagues who kindly greeted the party of supporters. Whether Masters is yet to be informed of the communications is another question, however the verity that other Premier League staff are aware of the feelings of the Toon army, and have witnessed it directly is indeed a broad statement in itself.
Such efforts by the Toon faithful have gained worldwide recognition, while Prime Minister Boris Johnson has also been drawn into the saga. The PM has backed calls for the Premier League to release a statement on the failed takeover bid.
In an email to the Newcastle United Supporters Trust, Johnson read: “I appreciate that many Newcastle fans were hoping this takeover bid would go ahead and can understand their sense of disappointment… and agree with their conclusion that the Premier League should make a statement on this case”. He also added There must be clarity on why there was a significant delay in a decision being made, and on the reasons why the consortium decided to withdraw their bid”, while concluding that the Premier League have been approached for comment.
The ultimate aim is to understand the reasoning behind the delay, with the possibility that the buying consortium could re-engage with the PL and resolve such issues; which could result in a potential revival of their bid. The Toon army believe that the club as well as the city have been unfairly deprived of much-needed investment, due to the deliberate, dawdling nature of the Premier League in this instance.
Matters do not look like fading away soon, with the constant pressure applied on the Premier League. Reports also suggest that Mike Ashley’s legal team are preparing to take the issue to court, which would be another huge twist in the saga. For now, supporters must continue to coerce and pressurise the PL and sign the petition. The unity and strength exhibited by the fanbase is admirable nonetheless and worthy of a statement at least.