Like other fan-based club takeover ventures, there’s a lot of heady optimism surrounding the idea but there are some serious questions that need to be asked.
Where’s the money coming from?
This is the true test of the depth and breadth of Newcastle United’s fanbase. Can NFU put together the 300m required to buy out Ashley? At 1000 per ‘share’, that amounts to needing 300,000 Newcastle fans pledging (and later on, paying) 1000 pounds each for a single vote as NU shareholder.
I think it’s possible, but the most practical way forward here would be for NFU to target a 10% share in the eventual takeover of the club and align itself with one of the bidding consortiums. A fan-based organisation supporting the party taking over will give the new owners legitimacy and breathing space to rebuild the club on and off the pitch. 30m or 30,000 Geordies paying 1000 pounds each is not out of the question.
Who runs the club?
A football club needs strong leadership to progress in an increasingly competitive environment, and just as importantly it needs a public representative who can talk to the press on behalf of the club and be accepted as such. Manchester United have Gill, Chelsea have Kenyon, Liverpool have Parry. Despite their detractors, these men are accepted as being in charge of affairs at their respective clubs and are according a modicum of respect.
Who do Newcastle have? Wise? Even if the man in charge doesn’t have to be ‘loved’ by the fans, he does need to be respected and Wise is anything but.
The fans can help in this area as well, by helping nominate and select competent individuals from the worlds of football and business to be part of the setup.
How will they balance “community” and “business”?
As a business Newcastle has different concerns than as a community, especially when it comes to transfer policy and squad makeup. Yes, both parties want Newcastle to keep winning but while one would forego profit to see them do so, the other would rather profit than win. It’s not a criticism, just the reality that Newcastle fans and football fans and clubs all over need to deal with.
If NFU can help create a bridge between club (business) and fans (community) and help build an enduring partnership between the two instead of the current discord, they would have done their job even if they don’t raise the cash necessary to buy out Mike Ashley.