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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 11 December 2018

Staveley PCP takeover could take Newcastle back to 1990s glory days, says former FA executive

Adrian Bevington said the Tyneside club is a wonderful opportunity for potential investors

Alan Shearer, left, was one of Newcastle United's big purchases in the 1990s.
Alan Shearer, left, was one of Newcastle United's big purchases in the 1990s.

Newcastle United could return to being one of the biggest clubs in English football under the ownership of Dubai financier Amanda Staveley, according to a former Football Association Executive.

Adrian Bevington, who was Club England Managing Director at the FA until 2015, said the Tyneside club would be an attractive proposition for investors looking for a football team with growth potential.

“Newcastle is a wonderful opportunity for anyone who has the financial muscle to be able to buy and more importantly invest in the club,” he told The National.

“By buying top players and attracting them to Newcastle, the club can be vibrant again like it was in the 1990s under Kevin Keegan.”

Despite not winning a trophy, Newcastle enjoyed a considerable amount of success under Keegan’s stewardship. Having made significant investment in the club buying players such as David Ginola and Alan Shearer, Newcastle finished runners-up in the Premier League in 1995-1996 and 1996-1997.

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Read more: Dubai financier Amanda Staveley offers to buy Newcastle United in one-off payment of under £300 million

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Newcastle’s current owner Mike Ashley announced in October that he intended to sell the club, which he bought in 2007, by Christmas this year.

Ms Staveley and her firm PCP Capital Partners have been in discussions with Mr Ashley, who owns controversial sportswear giant Sports Direct, since then.

On Monday reports emerged that Ms Staveley had made a formal offer of an amount below £300 million (Dh1.46bn) to Mr Ashley, which would be paid in a lump sum as opposed to structured payments, which could be affected should the club be relegated.

This amount is lower than the £350m-£400m figure that the sportswear magnate was thought to be seeking. “One would suggest that there is some way to go in the negotiations,” Mr Bevington added.

Newcastle returned to the Premier League this season, having been relegated in 2016 after a tricky campaign, which included the sacking of their manager Steve McClaren after just nine months in charge.

While McClaren’s successor Rafa Benitez was unable to save the club from relegation, having been appointed in March last year, his tenure as head coach saw the Magpies top the Championship in 2016-2017. Having returned to the top flight of English football in August, Newcastle are now sitting somewhat comfortably mid-table.

Mr Bevington said that Benitez, who guided Liverpool FC to a Champions League trophy in 2005 and is well-liked by Newcastle fans, was another key selling point for investors looking to buy a club with European potential.

“Newcastle have not won a trophy for nearly 50 years. For a club like Newcastle’s stature, that’s an incredibly long time,” he said.

“I think there’s an excitement at the prospect of a new buyer for the club with significant wealth behind it and the capability to support the manager, who is very popular there. Rafa Benitez is one of the more highly regarded managers in European football.”