Newcastle United fans desperate for a takeover received a hammer blow on Monday night, when it was confirmed the club’s arbitration hearing will be delayed.
The hearing will now take place in early 2022, all but guaranteeing that Mike Ashley is going nowhere in the short-term.
There had been hopes that a takeover could be done this summer.
Ashley reportedly didn’t want to sanction any major transfers until the club’s future was resolved. In short, he didn’t want to spend any money in case he wasn’t owner for much longer.
But on Monday evening, Newcastle released a statement stating that arbitration would be adjourned until early 2022.
But why has the hearing been delayed for at least six months?
The reported reason why the Newcastle takeover hearing has been delayed
In the club’s statement, it stated that the hearing would be adjourned because of ‘issues with the disclosure of evidence’.
And according to the Athletic, this means that both parties were unable to get the required answers from Saudi Arabia, who are at the centre of this dispute.
Arbitration is taking place to determine whether or not the Saudi state are separate to the Public Investment Fund, who were set to own 80% of Newcastle United.
The Magpies were trying to prove they are separate, while last year the Premier League believed they weren’t. That meant that PIF chairman and Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammed Bin Salman would have to be named as a director, and thus pass their Owners’ and Directors’ test.
However, the Athletic claim that the Saudis have been unable to provide the required information. Considering this is the issue at the heart of arbitration, this is quite concerning.
Now questions are being asked from fans about whether or not the Saudis are actually interested anymore. If not, surely there is no chance of a deal.
In the short-term, there is pretty much no hope of a takeover.
But arbitration is still scheduled for early next year. Ashley also has another legal battle ongoing – the CAT case.
There is still a chance a deal could be done, but goodness knows when. And the longer this goes on, the more and more unlikely it will feel for fans.
And, as always, it is the fans who have been let down.