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Takeover column

Here's Mark Douglas' latest column - this time focusing on the latest takeover story and why there will always be caution around the rumours...

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December 13, 2017.

Ask me why caution precedes every single upbeat Newcastle United takeover bulletin and that is the date that keeps grinding against any inclination to believe the growing body of evidence that this might be the moment when the tide is turning to usher in a new era at St James’ Park.

On that cold Wednesday a couple of years ago, we all briefly became believers. Like dominoes, reliable sources who had been accurate in their information about the discussions between Mike Ashley and Amanda Staveley started to confirm that an agreement was in the offing to complete a buy out of the Magpies.

A fan holds a banner protesting against Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley during the FA Cup Fourth Round Replay match between Oxford United and Newcastle United at Kassam Stadium on February 4, 2020 in Oxford, England

United wouldn’t deny it. Off-the-record, there was even a nudge that it sounded correct. There was a note of caution that a deal hadn’t been done yet and would take time to finalise – sound familiar? – but the direction of travel was clear: Ashley was on his way out. The exciting plans assembled by Staveley seemed to be close to being realised.

Newcastle played Everton that night. There was a sense of anticipation in the air. They lost – Wayne Rooney’s goal confirmed the Magpies as being in deep relegation trouble – but at least a change might be on the horizon.

It was a false dawn. Eventually, those close to Ashley began to row it back. Someone had jumped the gun. Perhaps one of those negotiating the deal had given false hope when really, Ashley is the man who matters here. When the terms that seemed to be acceptable got back to him, the plug was pulled. It seemed incomprehensible: months of negotiations and discussions for this?

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