Mike Ashley

NBC Group Chat: Newcastle Ownership & Premier League Broadcast Prep

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Robbie Earle and Robbie Mustoe welcome the all-stars of the NBC Sports broadcast crew into a roundtable (via web) discussion of all things soccer in a socially-responsible social distance podcast.

The 2 Robbies are joined by Rebecca Lowe, Kyle Martino, Arlo White, Lee Dixon and Graeme Le Saux for an NBC Group Chat.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

They react to Newcastle owner Mike Ashley reportedly agreeing a deal to sell the club (1:00) and discuss how they individually prepare for a Premier League broadcast (18:35).

If you’re not a video fan and feel like living the audio life, the podcast version is below.

You can follow them The 2 Robbies on Twitter @The2RobbiesNBC here.

Click here for The 2 Robbies archive ] 

Newcastle in advanced talks over sale

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Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley is, once again, in advanced talks to sell the club.

Ashley, who has owned Newcastle for 13 years, is reportedly in negotiations with PCP Partners about a sale.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

The consortium is headed by Amanda Staveley who tried to buy Newcastle in 2017 but the deal collapsed as Ashley demanded more money and a relegation clause was a sticking point.

Various reports claim that paperwork has been made available as Sky Sports state that a legal framework for a $380 million deal has been put in place.

Staveley is acting on behalf of PCP Partners and the Saudi Public Investment Firm (PIF) but there is no mention of the latter in the legal documents, while some other interesting documents have surfaced.

It has been reported widely that a deal is now waiting to be ratified by the Premier League as PIF is controlled by the ruler of Saudi Arabia, Prince Mohammed bin Salman. He will hold 80 per cent of the club shares, while Staveley will hold 10 per cent of shares and is expected to oversee the day-to-day operations at the club.

It appears that Ashley is lending PCP Partners money to complete the deal, which may not be as unusual as it sounds as the current Newcastle owner has always stated he would be willing to structure a deal in various payments to get it done.

Should Newcastle fans get excited about this? After all, they’ve been here on numerous occasions before as Ashley has tried to sell the club many times.

The Newcastle fan is a constant target of criticism from Magpies fans due to his cost-cutting measures which has seen him limit spending on and off the pitch with Newcastle relegated twice under his ownership.

This time, it all seems different and there is real optimism in the air surrounding that the group Staveley has put together can provide funds to turn Newcastle into top six contenders.

Their fanbase, stadium and history proves they are one of the true sleeping giants of not just English soccer but across the whole of Europe.

Premier League Preview: Newcastle United v. Chelsea

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Chelsea visits surprising Newcastle United in a marquee match Saturday at St. James’ Park (Watch Live at 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and online via NBCSports.com).

The hosts have scrapped their way to 26 points, five points both clear of the drop zone and back of seventh place. A draw at Wolves last weekend snapped a three-match league losing streak.

Chelsea maintains a five-point gap over Manchester United in its bid to claim a Top Four place, with the Red Devils meeting unbeaten Liverpool this week. The Blues are seeking back-to-back league wins for the first time since Nov. 9.

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

Newcastle has had a fair bit of success against the big boys this season, beating Manchester United and Spurs while drawing Man City.

Christian Pulisic stole the ball en route to Marcos Alonso‘s late goal in a 1-0 win when the two sides met at Stamford Bridge in October.

Pulisic, of course, is still out injured for Chelsea and Lampard says the American could return near the club’s February break. Newcastle has electric winger Allan Saint-Maximin back in the fold after more than a month on the sidelines. Matt Ritchie and Jonjo Shelvey are also available.


Injuries/suspensions

Newcastle United: OUT — Paul Dummett, Dwight Gayle, DeAndre Yedlin, Fabian Schar, Jetro Willems, Javi Manquillo. QUESTIONABLE — DeAndre Yedlin, Yoshinori Muto.

Chelsea: OUT — Ruben Loftus-Cheek, N’Golo Kante, Pulisic. QUESTIONABLE — Marcos Alonso.


Probable lineups

Newcastle United: Dubravka; Willems, Clark, Lascelles, Fernandez, Ritchie; Hayden, Shelvey; Saint-Maximin, Joelinton, Almiron.

Chelsea: Arrizabalaga, Azpilicueta, Zouma, Rudiger, James; Jorginho, Willian, Mount, Kovacic, Hudson-Odoi; Abraham.


What they’re saying

Newcastle boss Steve Bruce on his meeting with owner Mike Ashley: “It went very well. We showed what we are trying to do, and he was fully supportive. We have plates spinning and hope to add to the squad by the end of the month. We have said that the targets have to improve us. He has been fully supportive of the remit. He agrees we buy quality not quantity. That has to be the mantra.”

Chelsea’s Frank Lampard on Newcastle’s many injuries: “It is still an opportunity, but this is vital. Every game brings challenges, going to Newcastle, the emotion of the crowd and they are an organized side. We won’t take it lightly. We have to take every game head-on. We don’t underestimate there. Bournemouth were down to the bare bones and we lost, it can bring out a different feeling. They have done very well and I don’t look at the bare bones.


Prediction

St. James’ Park has been a tough place to play, but the Blues shake off any travel to collect a 2-1 win over the Magpies.

Previous bidder back for another crack at Newcastle takeover

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British businessman Peter Kenyon, owner of American investment fund GACP Sports, is back for another attempt and purchasing Newcastle United.

[ VIDEO: Martin Odegaard continues fine form with a dazzling assist ]

The group is attempting to put together a package of around $370 million to acquire the Premier League club from from longtime beleaguered owner Mike Ashley.

Kenyon, a former Chelsea and Manchester United chief executive, failed in a previous takeover bid last year when he and a different set of investors were unable to raise the necessary funds.

[ MORE: Barcelona gets $329 fine for tampering with Antoine Griezmann ]

A 46-page brochure outlining Kenyon’s plan to purchase and remake the club was leaked to journalists in the UK on Thursday. The document can be viewed in its entirety, here.

While Kenyon is hardly a newcomer to the idea of buying Newcastle, Ashley is hardly a newcomer to the idea of selling — or, rather the insistence against selling — Newcastle. In the last 24 months, three approaches, including Kenyon’s first attempt, have ultimately failed due to Ashley not securing the financial package he desires.

Newcastle takeover could be back on if in holiday relegation battle

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How much do Newcastle United supporters dislike their owner Mike Ashley right now?

Enough that this report is likely to condemn many to hoping their favorite club in the world is in the Bottom 3 come Christmas.

[ MORE: Europa League preview ]

The Chronicle’s Mark Douglas speculates that Ashley will lower his asking price for the club if it is in a relegation fight come December — something that looks certain after the Steve Bruce-led Magpies got bossed around by promoted Norwich City.

Nothing But Newcastle transcribed Douglas’ chatter from his podcast, in which he says,

“It wouldn’t surprise me if we hear more in December because there are still people sniffing around that football club and if the team are in the bottom three, there’ll be people thinking they can get a bargain out of Mike Ashley again. … He will probably more open to listening to lower offers in January and December which is what happened last December. He was basically saying ‘take it off my hands, you now have to take the risk’'”

This is notable for two reasons. First: the social experiment of wondering how many fans could see themselves rooting for their team to take a major and perilous back step just to see the back of a man they perceive is at the root of their failures (and that perception is widespread in this case).

But second, we can see if this rumor comes true because it’s difficult to imagine Newcastle as comfortably mid table by Christmas.

Fan protests and anger are nothing new, but here’s an effort to show how wobbly Ashley’s reputation is on Tyneside: Fans have taken to selling a black and white striped shirt with player name and number but no sponsor just so they can have a Newcastle jersey that doesn’t put money into Ashley’s pockets. And this is after he broke the club’s transfer record twice in one year.

If we’ve learned anything from the past few seasons, though, it’s that boycotts and anger will spur Ashley into insisting that he’s willing to sell and just conveniently enough it will be before the January transfer window. He “won’t be able to buy any players” with the takeover in play, and talks will hit a wall come late January, when they’ll loan a couple young players from Top Six sides.

Yes he spent significant money on Joelinton, Allen Saint-Maximin, and others this summer, but one decent window doesn’t make a culture. Count us amongst the skeptical, for now.