So, there could be a new challenger on the block.
Newcastle United are set to finally undergo their takeover by a Saudi Arabian-led consortium aided by the likes of Amanda Stavely and property developers, the Reuben brothers.
It’s a move that has been in the making for almost 18 months and is now imminent after Saudi Arabia lifted its ban on beIN Sports, and committed to cracking down on the pirate websites broadcasting Premier League football. This seemed to remove the importance the league had put on whether the Saudi Public Investment Fund’s (PIF) involvement meant that the Saudi state would be involved in the running of Newcastle on a day-to-day basis.
When the £300million deal is complete, the Magpies will become one of the richest clubs in world football.
PIF is the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund and are estimated to be worth £320billion. That is roughly 13 times wealthier than Manchester City’s owners, while Roman Abramovich’s worth is believed to lie just under £10 billion.
But this won’t be a galacticos vanity project, and while there will be concerns about the ethics of those involved and the prospect of sportswashing, it appears to be a group interested in Newcastle for the long haul.
PIF’s proposal is to invest £50million per transfer window in squad improvement while further investment is planned for the Academy, training ground and infrastructure.
So, do Chelsea have to worry? Much like the gap in wealth between the clubs, the Blues remain lightyears ahead in their ability to compete at an elite level.
Under Mike Ashley, the club suffered relegation twice but also saw their commercial deals stagnate. In 2007 Newcastle saw income of £28million and in 2020 they saw £29million. Spurs in comparison saw theirs grow from £39million to £162million.
And put simply given the proposed plan from the consortium, it would take the North East side two transfer windows to buy Romelu Lukaku. Being quite honest, it would take more than that to improve their squad.
However, as Keiran Maguire suggests, the Toon Army will have room to navigate if they wish, even with Financial Fair Play rules in place that rule out the whirlwind of transfer dealings that compare to what Chelsea worked through with the arrival of Abramovich and the Chelski moniker.
The football finance expert suggests Newcastle will have an allowable FFP loss of £105million plus £88million, providing in excess of £190million pocket money.
That will not result in the growth the likes of the Blues and Manchester City were able to undergo. Even if it did, the Blues have maintained their ability to challenge at the top. Two Premier League titles, two Champions League trophies, two Europa League wins, two FA Cup wins and a League Cup title in the last decade isn’t too bad.
The last four seasons have been a fallow period in the league for the Blues as Man City and Liverpool reached new heights of Premier League points tallies but this season, under Thomas Tuchel, Chelsea are fighting for the top again. Despite European glories, those four years should serve as a warning to the Blues.
City’s investment wasn’t what left the Blues in their wake, though no doubt it helped. The introduction of a long term plan and philosophy through the addition of Pep Guardiola put everyone to the test.
It is through Newcastle’s long term planning and development they can become a threat.
Even then, the Blues should compete. In the transfer market, Marina Granovskaia has been a titan for the Stamford Bridge side, and Abramovich has never been frightened to put his hand in his pocket as a means to winning. The arrival of Lukaku will prove to be good business at a high cost.
That relationship is a crucial one. Granovskaia first worked as the Blues owner’s assistant before rising as Abramovich’s representative, then moving onto the board and becoming Chief Executive.
She has been credited with providing a driving force behind Cobham’s development, helped establish Chelsea’s relationship with Vitesse Arnhem and was key to Chelsea and Nike’s £60 million-a-year deal.
The 46-year-old is trusted entirely by Abramovich and has the final say on transfers, and it’s very rare Chelsea have got deals wrong.
Can Newcastle find the right person to play a similar role? It’s not an easy feat, and Granovskaia has had a clear impact on both preparing Chelsea’s long and short term goals. all outside of the media spotlight in a credible and efficient manner.
In the last 15 years Chelsea’s academy and training base have seen investment that is only just beginning to pay off.
The introduction of elite players into the first team through the likes of Mason Mount, Reece James and Callum Hudson-Odoi stands out but it is quickly becoming a viable source of income. Talents such as Fikayo Tomori, Marc Guehi, Tammy Abraham and Tino Livramento leaving the club may be of sadness to some, but helped yield the club more than £100million in transfer fees over the summer.
Newcastle still need to put those pieces into place.
They will have the investment and the excitement, both in the short and long term. It is the quality of the decisions along the way that will dictate whether they can truly challenge at the top however.