Two years ago when it looked like Newcastle owner Mike Ashley was first close to selling the club to a consortium led by the Saudi Arabia Public Interest Fund, there were numerous reports that suggested that Tottenham Hotspur were one of a small handful of clubs that objected. Now two years later with the sale officially complete and blessed by the Premier League, Spurs are once again part of a small minority of clubs formally voicing their objection to the sale.
According to Chronicle Live (the Football.London of Newcastle United), Tottenham and Manchester United were the two primary complainants against the sale in a recent Premier League meeting with clubs, a meeting to which Newcastle was not invited. The article suggests the clubs’ concerns center not only on the danger of allowing another big-money nation-backed organization to upset the balance of the Premier League, but also the secrecy behind the league’s actions to approve the deal, which came virtually out of nowhere last week.
It makes a ton of sense that United and Tottenham would be on the same page on this matter. Both clubs have attained their status more or less organically and without infusions of large amounts of money from mega-rich owners to catapult their clubs into the elite the way that Chelsea and more recently Manchester City have. Newcastle’s new owners and their ability to spend their way to the top of the table are a very real risk to a club like Tottenham, who have done everything the “right” way and now face being left behind by another club with seemingly unlimited resources.
However, it’s never quite that simple. The Chronicle rightfully notes the hypocrisy of Tottenham and United both being involved in the failed European Super League plot, the talks for which were held in utter secrecy to the sole benefit of the clubs involved.
Nobody’s hands are clean in this situation. Newcastle’s sale is another example of a trend in recent decades that skews power towards clubs with massive, virtually unchecked resources, often backed by foreign nations attempting to “sportswash” their country’s horrific human rights abuses or ethically nebulous values. It’s also true that all of England’s top clubs, including Spurs, were recently involved in a secret plot to enhance themselves at the expense of the rest of the league, and would likely do it again if given the opportunity.
The sad reality is that, Leicester City aside, it feels as though in today’s modern football the only chance a club like Newcastle United has to get anywhere close to the top of the table is to get in bed with ethically pernicious entities like the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and cut in front of others in line. It’s a pretty gross way of achieving relevance, but the path forward has already been blazed by the likes of Chelsea and City, with the Premier League’s full approval. You can see why Spurs and United would object, but it’s unlikely to make any difference. This cat’s already fully out of the bag.