The least well-kept secret around Newcastle in recent weeks has officially been confirmed with the Magpies’ announcement that they are publicly for sale.
Fans were already well aware of several interested groups who had signed non-disclosure agreements, as well as the well-publicised appearance of Premier League deal-broker Amanda Staveley at the Liverpool match.
Interest is understood to come most seriously from various consortia in both China and the Middle East, either of which is mouthwatering news for any Newcastle fan.
One of the biggest problems with Mike Ashley’s 10-year reign has been a lack of spending.
He has oversaw two relegations in his time at the helm, for a team that given its fanbase and facilities should never be anything less than comfortably secure in the Premier League.
This has stemmed from his unwillingness to give the club the financial backing that it both needs and deserves.
A common misconception of Newcastle fans is that we expect the world, but honestly, we would just be happy with transfer that showed some desire to at least be in contention.
Protests such as the ‘Ashley Out’ movements of old might have left the stands momentarily, helped by the retaining of Rafa Benitez and a good transfer spend the year the club dropped into the Championship for a second time, but old frustrations have been resurfacing ever since.
Then there was his interview with Sky Sports, where he quite simply told supporters that this was it; we had received all the money we were going to get.
Those are words that should never come from the mouth of chairman, especially not one like Ashley who insists on running the club as a business rather than through passion.
Surely it makes more sense to spend a little now to ensure you stay in the Premier League and rake in the money at the end of the season. That’s just common sense business – simple investment and reward.
Apparently not in Ashley’s logic, however.
That is why news of a large consortium from a rich country or countries seeking to acquire Newcastle is like having prayers answered for Magpies fans.
Perhaps, depending on who purchases the club, we can jump from bottom-of-the-barrel, deadline day deals to acquiring some real, expensive talent and catapult ourselves through the leagues.
With a world-class manager at the helm in Benitez there is no reason to not believe that some significant investment in the club could bring about wonders.
Ashley reportedly wants a deal done by Christmas too, meaning that January could become a much more pleasant and enjoyable experience for both the fans and Benitez than another one restricted by the tightfisted grip of Ashley, which is the current prospect facing us.
According to the club statement: “Newcastle United requires a clear direction and a path to a bright and successful future.”
To right we do, and for once all parties seem to understand that future revolves around one thing happening: Ashley walking out of St. James’ Park and someone new coming in his place.
Ashley, who in 2016 said he “regretted buying the club” (not the words you ever want to hear from your club’s chairman), has tried to sell the club twice before but this time seems more serious about it than ever before.
The club statement went on to say: “To give an incoming owner the maximum possible flexibility to make meaningful investment in the club, including in its playing squad, the sale process will give interested parties the opportunity of deferring substantial payments,
“A process will now commence of identifying new ownership for the club that will be capable of delivering the sustained investment in and dedication to the club that is necessary for it to achieve its ambitions.”
Andrew Henderson, a partner at Ashley’s legal representatives Dentons, also said that the ownership could help with “additional funds in the short term” to complete a sale – which suggests clearer than anything else that Ashley wants the club sold on and to cash in on his profits.
“Assuming an appropriate person can be found to take the club forward, on exactly how payments are structured – how much would be payable on day one, how much would be payable down the line – there is a real, genuine desire from our point of view to put the club in the best position going forward,” he added.
Ashley seems to have finally accepted defeat with Newcastle and seems set on passing it off to more appropriate hands as quickly as possible, and that is something that gladdens the hearts of every Newcastle fan out there.
Too many bad memories have come under his 10-year reign, and it is time to shake all that up and get the investment into the club that it truly deserves.
If a sale happens fast, to a group of owners who put the money where their mouths are, then good times could be coming to Tyneside.
It is great news the club is finally officially up for sale, and it could be the start of even better times ahead.