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Barcelona and Boca Juniors to play for Maradona Cup during Riyadh season


‘Announce Mbappe’: How Saudi-backed Newcastle United takeover left long-suffering supporter dreaming of happier days

NEWSCASTLE: It’s been a strange few days for Newcastle United, a football club that has been in the business of strange days for as long as I can remember.

I’m still trying to process things, but at this point all I can tell you is this: As a Newcastle fan for 35 years, I started the week negotiating the usual numbness associated with it. to defeat and I ended it by supporting the richest football club in the world. .

Would legendary Italian manager Antonio Conte like to live in the affluent Newcastle suburb of Jesmond, or would he rather stay in the city center and soak up the culture when he becomes manager? That would be a question for another day.

The takeover was as quick as it was unexpected. At least as quick and unexpected as anything that has been rumbling for 18 months. For me, the $ 410 million deal to buy the club by a consortium made up of PCP Capital Partners, Reuben Brothers and the Saudi Public Investment Fund was dead in the water, dragged into the freezing depths of testing. Premier League by problems of separation of directors and distribution. rights.

So imagine my surprise last week when it all suddenly unfolded and I found myself subconsciously writing the words “announce (footballer Kylian) Mbappe” on my Twitter feed. What can I say ? Football is an unpredictable mistress.

Of course, now is the time to dream if you are a Newcastle United fan. We dream better than most because we haven’t had much else to do in the past 52 years (the last time we won a major trophy).

For the uninitiated, supporting this team isn’t really something you choose to do. It is a birth gift or comes depending on the location. It sounds cliché, but just as the stadium dominates the city skyline, so does the football club in people’s hearts and minds. What happens here matters, and in a part of England so often private, a successful football team has the potential to make a difference.

For years, I have worn our lack of success as a sort of badge of honor. Anyone can follow Real Madrid, but you try to sit in the pouring rain watching your distinctly average team struggle to break even the weakest of the opposition. Then come back and do it again, at home and away, year after year. It may be the football equivalent of self-flagellation, but I am extremely proud to support this club and to stand alongside the thousands of people who have done the same for decades without any real reward.

I consider myself a lucky Newcastle fan. I was there for the first transformative takeover in 1992, when local businessman Sir John Hall saved the club from years of austerity. Languishing in the former Second Division (now Championship), Hall’s first big date was Kevin Keegan as manager. I remember the delusional excitement of it all, even though I couldn’t quite understand what supporting a winning football team could really mean.

What followed were four and a half swashbuckling seasons where Newcastle went from near certainties for relegation (again) to title challengers in England’s top flight. It was a time when we became known as The Entertainers, of “don’t worry if they score three because we’ll score four”, and it was glorious.

Even after Keegan, there was Tino Asprilla’s hat-trick against Barcelona and Sir Bobby Robson’s pure passion for the black and white cause, Champions League adventures and big money signings. We still haven’t won anything, of course, but at least it was fun.

Then came Sports Direct supremo Mike Ashley and a second club buyout that was… less exciting, shall we say?

In truth, I have felt a disconnect with my club for quite some time. But then 14 years of neglect will do it for you. PR blunders, questionable signings and the sole focus of protecting an asset in the Premier League were just the finer details. In the end, Newcastle United had almost been reduced to dust, blasted by a lack of investment, care and intention. A club whose greatest asset had always been its most loyal supporters was seeing them depart in droves, tearfully cutting a cord that spanned generations.

But then, just when you think you are away, they bring you back. A new set of goalkeepers who make us, at least in terms of record at this stage, the most powerful football club on the planet. I’m going to upgrade you, it’s confusing.

At this point, we should probably discuss expectations. While supporters of other clubs often have the misconception that we expect to play for league titles and Champions League places (an expectation that no Newcastle fan has, by the way), I am ready to play cool in terms of what we can achieve being cheeky.

Quite frankly, I imagine that consistent success would be completely overrated. Just look into the half-glass eyes of a Manchester City fan winning the Carabao Cup for the 18th time and tell me that’s not true.

Football isn’t really about trophies anyway, is it? It is about hope and pride. It is about the excitement that it will be your day. It’s a staple that Newcastle fans have been deprived of for 14 years.

It should be remembered that the new owners have declared their intention to be part of the Newcastle community. It is not only about success on the ground, but also about the long-term and wider regeneration of the area. In a place where more than 10,000 children live in poverty and which has one of England’s busiest food banks just two miles from the stadium, the takeover of this football club has the power to change lives at more than one title.

What happens next is guessable. But for now, Newcastle United fans have earned the right to dream again. Maybe, just maybe, it’s our turn to taste success?

Now announces Mbappé.


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