Last updated on 7 October 20217 October 2021.From the section Newcastle
Alan Shearer says the Saudi Arabian-backed £305m takeover of Newcastle is a “special day” for the club’s long-suffering supporters.
The Magpies have struggled to challenge near the top of the Premier League since 2004, apart from a fifth-place finish in 2011-12.
The takeover ends Mike Ashley’s 14-year spell as Newcastle owner in which time they have twice been relegated.
“All we’ve done is tick along and survive for 14 years,” Shearer said.
“We’ve had no real ambition, we’ve survived, cup competitions have been non-existent and this city and this football club and our fans deserve better.
“The fans are loyal, they love their football club and their life is Newcastle United. It all depends on whether Newcastle win on a Saturday. They work hard all week to spend their money on the club, so I understand why there is so much happiness in the city today and I feel exactly the same.
“Our fans also need to know that they matter, because they haven’t for 14 years, so today is special for them.”
Shearer, who scored 206 goals during 10 years at St James’ Park as a player, helped the club to several top-four finishes. They qualified for the Champions League on three occasions between 1996 and 2003.
However, those squads had more than a sprinkling of star quality, in contrast to recent years when a perceived lack of investment in the playing staff has led to mediocre performances and fan protests.
“The dream is that we want a little bit of hope. Fans want their football club to try and be the best and I really understand their excitement for that reason,” Shearer added on BBC Radio 5 Live.
“The Newcastle fans have not mattered for 14 years. Their money hasn’t been invested and they’ve not been consulted. To have a football club that has such passionate support but not have that level of consultation is not good.
“We now have owners that will invest and I think that’s really important for the fans to see that.
“It will need patience and that’s fine. We don’t expect to be winning the league in the next few years or winning the Champions League, we just expect a little bit of something to look forward to.
“The fans deserve that, they are such loyal and passionate supporters and they’ve been on the brink for so long. We were lucky enough to do so much at one time and it was a happy and thriving place, but there’s been none of that for the last 14 years.”
The Premier League approved the takeover after receiving “legally binding assurances” that the Saudi state would not control the club.
That is despite the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, being listed as the chair of the Public Investment Fund (PIF), which will provide 80% of funds for the deal.
The Saudi Arabian state has been accused of human rights abuses, but with the majority owner PIF deemed a separate entity, and an alleged piracy dispute with Qatar-based broadcaster beIN Sports, settled, there was no longer an impediment to the takeover, in the Premier League’s view.
“I understand that questions have to be asked about the human rights issues, it’s really important that we don’t brush them under the carpet,” Shearer added.
“We have to educate ourselves on that and this will highlight that even more… but already they are massively invested in this country and other sports.
“It is a huge issue but it’s not Newcastle United fans’ fault – they don’t get a say in their football club and how it’s run.”
Former Newcastle and England winger Chris Waddle believes the new owners need to make a statement signing, similar to when Newcastle bought Kevin Keegan in 1982 or Keegan himself signing Shearer for a world-record transfer fee in 1996.
During Keegan’s first spell as manager, Newcastle went from an ailing second-tier side in 1992 to fighting for the Premier League title four years later.
“For me, the first signing has to be a massive signing. You’re talking a Keegan or a Shearer. It’s got to set the place alight,” Waddle said.
“It’s going to cost a fortune. Manchester City had a five-year plan when they did this and they’ve managed that very well. Newcastle should be copying a plan like that to succeed.
“I think Steve Bruce has done a good job – that may be unpopular but I think he has. But City made a real statement when this happened to them and got a high-profile manager in Pep Guardiola, who is the best.
“If Bruce did lose his job, which I think he will unfortunately, I think they’ve got to make a big statement with who they appoint because that’s what they need if they’re going to take this club to the next level.”
Another former Newcastle favourite, Robert Lee, who played nearly 400 games for the Magpies after signing for Keegan, believes the new ownership will take a more pragmatic approach to rebuilding on-pitch fortunes.
“As much as the fans would like to see [Lionel] Messi and [Kylian] Mbappe, I don’t see that happening,” Lee said.
“I don’t expect them to chuck hundreds of millions at it straight away – that would be foolish. You have to spend it properly. We have to make sure the right people choose the right players.”