Newcastle legend Alan Shearer discusses the club takeover
Newcastle’s lucrative £305million change of ownership, backed by the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammed bin Salman, has been branded “a lottery for football agents” by one intermediary, who wishes to remain anonymous following an exclusive interview with Express Sport. Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) will provide 80 per cent of the purse behind the remunerative investment with Newcastle’s new hierarchy determined to drive the club to new heights.
Co-owner Amanda Staveley, who has steered the Saudi-led consortium and engineered Mike Ashley’s prolonged departure after his miserable 14-year reign, has already detailed her ambition to deliver the Magpies’ first ever Premier League title.
Yet to turn those dreams into reality, strategic long-term planning, significant expenditure and a rebrand of the club’s current infrastructure will be required with manager Steve Bruce expected to be sacked.
Meanwhile, Newcastle have already been speculatively linked with upwards of 50 potential transfer targets since the takeover was made official, including Harry Kane, Mauro Icardi, Jesse Lingard, Wesley Fofana, John Stones, Anthony Martial, Alexandre Lacazette, Gareth Bale, Philippe Coutinho, Donny van de Beek and Bernd Leno to name a few.
While the club are actively listening to background proposals being tabled behind the scenes by opportunistic representatives, Newcastle are reluctant to make any knee-jerk decisions before they strengthen their off-field structure with the employment of a director of football.
But that won’t stop agents from seizing initiative as they look to play on the bundles of cash now at Newcastle’s disposal – with the Saudi Public Investment Fund’s collective wealth worth a reported 320 billion pounds.
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An established intermediary, who has helped broker four Premier League transfers in the past two years, exclusively tells Express Sport: “This kind of scenario – where a club that is usually as quiet as a mouse in the transfer market – suddenly has loads of cash, is like a lottery for agents, honestly.
“Newcastle has always been a prestigious and historic club in English football, very highly regarded in European countries but the project is now so fascinating. Whether you agree with the ethics or not.
“But the next few months will be crazy, I can tell you that. Players will be offered to the club virtually every day and others will play the game and use their name to secure big, big contracts. More cash for the players and agents.
“From what I hear and know, Newcastle do not want to just throw all their money at big names. They have a strategy and plan to sign younger, talented players and invest smartly in some experience. I think that’s clever.”
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The likes of Brendan Rodgers, Graham Potter, Paulo Fonseca and Lucien Favre have all been mooted for the Newcastle hot-seat, with the club’s new owners still yet to pay the £8m compensation fee to relieve Bruce from his duties.
Ralf Rangnick, who is currently working as the head of sports and development at Lokomotiv Moscow in Russia, is understood to be the leading contender for a sporting director role or a position of similar clout.
The 63-year-old, who was linked with Tottenham earlier this summer, has also managed RB Leipzig, Schalke, Hoffenheim, Hannover and Stuttgart during an illustrious 36-year managerial career in Germany.
The early word out of Newcastle is that the new board will instead seek to replicate a similar model to that of RB Leipzig in order to fast-track their way to success and in the view of the incognito intermediary, Rangnick would therefore be the perfect appointment.
“They want a model and similar infrastructure to RB Leipzig in the Bundesliga, which is why Rangnick is the guy they want at the top, he knows his stuff,” the intermediary added.
Newcastle want to replicate RB Leipzig’s model and are eyeing Ralf Rangnick as sporting director
“There is a lot of b******* rumours flying about though with players, targets and so on. It’s crazy and funny but we expect it.
“But Newcastle are listening to proposals already. There will be no clear final decisions right now but in the next few months, they will plan ahead for January.
“The new coach will also have a voice that will be heard but from what I know, the money is there to do what they want! There is talks, every day. We hold regular dialogue with the club.”
Estimations calculated by football financial expert Kieran Maguire suggest that in the last three years, Newcastle have made Financial Fair Play profits in the region of £100m.
FFP, reluctantly, will allow clubs to lose £105m, meaning there is significant scope for immediate investment with Newcastle expected to reach for the chequebook at the turn of the year.
The amortisation rules also read favourably for the Toon Army, providing them with extra leverage to exercise their spending power as soon as the transfer window opens.
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Newcastle’s new owners are ready to invest heavily from the get-go as they target trophies
Steve Bruce has continued to take Newcastle training this week
Maguire tells Express Sport: “Newcastle will be able to spend unlimited amounts as far as the infrastructure of the club is concerned.
“It’s an area that was neglected significantly by Mike Ashley, so in terms of the training facilities, the stadium and academy and so on, the new owners are free to spend as much money as they want as that’s all exempt from Financial Fair Play.
“In terms of the ability of Newcastle to compete for playing talent, for all Mike Ashley’s detractors and critics, the one thing that he did do was run the club on a fairly even keel, financially.
“Over the course of the last three years of accounts, the club made profits and if you then factor in that the Financial Fair Play rules allow you to lose £105m and you also take into consideration that footballers are accounted for, so if you signed a player for £100m on a five-year contract, the contest is treated as £20m per year under the amortisation rules.”
While splashing cash looks straightforward, Maguire forecasts problems up ahead for the Magpies when it comes to offloading players from their current squad, particularly club-record signing and £40m flop Joelinton.
Selling Joelinton could prove difficult for Newcastle
Maguire adds: “Selling players will also be important for Newcastle but the challenge that they have is they spent £40million on Joelinton, how much will they realistically get back and also the player is on a long-term contract with significantly high wages? And is anyone else willing to match those wages?
“The problem that faces Newcastle is similar to the one Manchester City faced, that you end up with players you either put out on loan or they’re left to kick around with the kids because nobody is willing to pay their wages.”
When Roman Abramovich bought Chelsea back in 2003, only Manchester United and Arsenal posed a serious threat to their ambitions of domestic dominance and even since Sheikh Mansour purchased City back in 2008, the landscape has dramatically changed, meaning Newcastle have their work cut out if they’re to reach the summit of English football.
But still, Maguire remains adamant the Magpies have the financial muscle to replicate the £500m spending spree carried out during the first four years of Abramovich’s reign in west London.
“We’ve seen the resurgence of Liverpool and Tottenham reaping the rewards of their new stadium so the new owners of Newcastle are effectively trying to compete with at least four and maybe six clubs for talent, so there’s going to be bidding wars,” Maguire explains.
“Financial Fair Play will be a challenge if we take a look at Chelsea, they spent over half a billion pounds in the first three to four years under Abramovich, that’s a lot of money for the new owners to find but they certainly have it.”