Newcastle takeover LIVE: Owners urged to REJECT Pochettino, Bin Salman deal LATEST, Rondon and Shaqiri transfer links – The Sun

NEWCASTLE fans are still nervously waiting to see if their £300m Saudi-led takeover goes ahead.

Reports suggest Saudi Arabia will bid for Premier League TV rights, but the FA are reportedly also placing the Saudis under the microscope for reported piracy of FA Cup matches.

Follow all the latest updates from the North East below…

  • ANFIELD EPIC 'GREATEST EVER'

    Alan Shearer and Ian Wright both agree on the greatest ever Premier League game: Liverpool's win over Newcastle in 1995-96.

    Shearer, still at Blackburn at that point, said: “Newcastle had that 12-point lead earlier in the season in January over Man United, and Man United were chipping away at it.

    “It was a game, they had to go there, they had to get something.

    “It just had everything, that game. Kevin was never ever going to change the way he wanted his team to play football.

    “It was all-out attack. If you’re going to score three then we’re going to try and score four.

    “Once I got into Newcastle then I could understand his philosophy and the way he wanted his team to play football – to go out and entertain the fans.”

  • GIVE POCH THE CHOP

    Former Magpie striker Michael Chopra believes Newcastle should forget about appointing the Mauricio Pochettino and bring back Rafa Benitez.

    He explained to the Daily Star: “I would go for Benitez over Pochettino.

    “Pochettino built up Tottenham from pretty much nothing, got them to the Champions League final and on the verge of winning the Premier League.

    “But the only thing going against him is he didn't win anything – which puts me off a bit.

    “With Benitez, he's got unfinished business. He did well at the club and had a great relationship with the fans.

    “He just wanted a bit more money to try and push them into the top 10.

    “Benitez has already got plans for the football club and at almost every team he's been at he's won trophies.”

  • HOME AND A-YAY

    Rob Elliot has mixed feelings over playing without any fans, seeing it as advantage away… but not ideal at St James’.

    The keeper, 34, told an Instagram Live Q&A with the IPKA Academy: “There's pluses and minuses.

    “When you play away from home, you've got that bonus of not having the fans but, obviously, for us at home, with the support we get, especially with the FA Cup included in that, it's going to be a big miss.

    “But I think the thing is you're very aware, even when you play in a packed stadium, that it's not just the 52,000; it's the millions around the world that do watch and we will be very aware that there will be people at home watching.

    “It will mean just as much regardless of whether the stadiums are full.”

  • MORNING NEWCASTLE FANS

    Magpies boss Steve Bruce has warned his players to be prepared to play in the summer heat as they look to earn a top-ten finish in the Premier League.

    He told NUFC TV: “We have had an unbelievable seven or eight weeks in terms of weather. That adds it's problems as well.

    “If we are going to be playing (Premier League) in July it is unheard of. We will address all of that.

    “It's unprecedented so we will do the best we can and make sure we are ready for whatever is ahead.”

    In a boost for the club, former striker Salomon Rondon has teased fans about a possible return to St James' Park.

    The 30-year-old told TNT Sports: “There was a lot of talk about what happened at Newcastle with the purchase of the Saudi group.

    “There are a lot of rumours about the interest, but you have to wait. My present at the moment is in China.

    “I have worked very well with Rafa for a year and a half. But you have to wait and see what happens. I would not look badly on a return to the Premier League.”

    Meanwhile, owner Mike Ashley is reportedly refusing permission for the club’s new bosses to speak to Bruce.

    According to Duncan Castles, the Saudi-backed PCP Capital Partners are being blocked from speaking to the former Manchester United defender and Mapgies manager.

    Castles said on the Transfer Window podcast: “Interestingly, they haven't spoken directly to Steve Bruce and that, I believe, is because Mike Ashley has not given them permission to speak to Steve Bruce.

    “I don't think that should be taken as an indication that there's any kind of reluctance on Mike Ashley's part to sell.

    “My information is that the deal is there, he cannot back out of this deal if the Premier League give approval, he has to go through with it.”

    And finally, Newcastle are being tipped to sign Liverpool attacking midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri.

    The Swiss international is not a first choice at Anfield, but has made a significant impact in bursts for Jurgen Klopp.

  • DAVE KIDD

    They have bent over backwards to make Project Restart a reality and ensure that Liverpool claim the title they so richly deserve.

    Despite the quite reasonable fears of many players, managers and others in wider society, the Premier League’s clubs have shown unity and decisiveness by agreeing to restart the season on June 17.

    There will be no nulling and voiding and, assuming all is safe and well, no asterisk to denote a curtailed season against the Reds’ first title in 30 years.

    So there should be no squabbling over whether Liverpool are allowed to play on Merseyside until they have been confirmed as champions — or even if they are forced away from Anfield for the remainder of this season.

    With Jurgen Klopp’s men a staggering 25 points clear, there is no doubt they will be crowned champions. Their season to date has been the most dominant league campaign in the history of the English top flight, with 27 wins from 29 matches.

    And so there can be no reasonable argument about a lack of ‘sporting integrity’ in them being asked to play their remaining home matches at neutral venues, as well as their next fixture, the Merseyside derby scheduled for Goodison Park.

  • HAY DAY

  • ZERO COVID CASES

    The Prem have confirmed that after the fourth round of testing for coronavirus, they've had NO new positive results… so on we march to June 17!

    A statement said: “The Premier League can today confirm that on Thursday 28 May and Friday 29 May, 1,130 players and club staff were tested for COVID-19.

    “Of these, zero have tested positive.

    “The Premier League is providing this aggregated information for the purposes of competition integrity and transparency.

    “No specific details as to clubs or individuals will be provided by the League and results will be made public after each round of testing.”

  • XHERD A RUMOUR

    Newcastle are being tipped to sign Liverpool attacking midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri.

    The Swiss international is not a first choice at Anfield, but has made a significant impact in bursts for Jurgen Klopp.

    Former Leeds and Man City full-back Mills reckons he could be just right for the Toon.

    He told TalkSport: “Obviously he is a quality player. If you can get him fit… we saw what he did for Liverpool last season. He has a lot to offer.

    “If the price is right and the wages are not too high it could be a quality player for them.

    “They would maybe play him in a more central role, an eight or a ten role – give him a bit of license and do not ask him to track back.”

  • MASTERS OF NONE

    Richard Masters says there is still work to do as the government gives its thumbs up to the return of sport, after nearly two months of negotiations.

    The Prem chief exec said: “All major sports, including the Premier League, have been working together with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to produce this Stage Three protocol.

    “We could not have reached this point without the full support of the Government, especially DCMS, Public Health England and the Chief Medical Officer’s team.

    “We have provisionally planned to restart the Premier League on 17 June, but there is still much work to be done to ensure the safety of everyone involved.

    “This includes consulting with our clubs, players and managers – along with all our other stakeholders – as the health and welfare of our participants and supporters is our priority.

    “If all goes well, we will be thrilled to resume the 2019/20 season in just over two weeks’ time.”

  • MAKE HAY WHILE SUN SHINES

    Isaac Hayden is desperate to pull the black and white shirt on again.

    The Toon midfielder said: “I’ve been champing at the bit to get back training and playing.

    “There’ll be no fans in the stadium and bits and pieces will be different, but playing football and doing our job will be the same.

    “We’ll be ready and raring to go on the 20th. It was fantastic to be back to be competing again because there’s only so much dribbling around mannequins unopposed.

    “It’s just that competition everyone’s enjoying.

    “Everyone is smiling and shouting, it’s already started, the banter and competitiveness, which is great.”

  • BOBBY JOBBY

    Confusion surrounds the need to use neutral venues for Premier League games after statements from two key police forces on Friday.

    They come after UK's football policing lead, Deputy Chief Constable Mark Roberts of South Yorkshire Police, had earlier suggested games would be moved at local forces' request.

    At least five top-flight matches have been earmarked to be played at neutral venues, plus any further games where Liverpool could win the title.

    Among the games picked out were the Merseyside derby, Liverpool's clash away to Manchester City and Manchester United's home match against Sheffield United.

    Merseyside Police later said there were no objections from the force to holding games at Goodison Park or Anfield in relation to crime and disorder, while Greater Manchester Police said a decision on moving high-risk games has yet to be taken.

  • TOON OUT FOR NOW

    Mike Ashley is reportedly refusing permission for the club’s new owners to speak to Steve Bruce.

    According to Duncan Castles, the Saudi-backed PCP Capital Partners are being blocked from speaking to the former Manchester United defender and Mapgies boss.

    Castles said on the Transfer Window podcast: “Interestingly, they haven't spoken directly to Steve Bruce and that, I believe, is because Mike Ashley has not given them permission to speak to Steve Bruce.

    “I don't think that should be taken as an indication that there's any kind of reluctance on Mike Ashley's part to sell.

    “My information is that the deal is there, he cannot back out of this deal if the Premier League give approval, he has to go through with it.”

  • TV NASTY

    Saudi Arabia’s main TV sports station have reportedly been threatened with legal action by the Football Association for illegally broadcasting old FA Cup matches.

    The Times claim KSA Sports, the state-owned channel in the country, received a letter from English football's governing body accusing them of airing games involving Newcastle from the Alan Shearer era.

    The report adds that the notice states that the FA feel broadcasting games are a clear infringement of their property rights.

    The FA, who have claimed that their lawyers will take action if KSA Sports don't cease airing games by June 2, also copied in the Saudi government and the Premier League in the letter.

    It read: “It has come to our attention that KSA Sports is engaged in the unauthorised and illegal broadcast of extracts from the matches (amongst other sports content) in the territory of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

    “As you have neither sought nor obtained permission from the FA or any of its authorised licensees to use this content on your channels, your present use is an infringement of the FA’s rights.”

  • IT'S NOT BLACK & WHITE

    Contract talks have to be put on ice while Newcastle’s takeover gets set to be completed.

    The club are in limbo over what to do next regarding players’ futures and the coronavirus crisis, that has affected so many contract negotiations, is now confusing agents involved with the club.

    According to the Chronicle, representatives of players are now getting in contact with the prospective new owners, even though they don’t legally have control of the club.

    Danny Rose, Valentino Lazaro and Nabil Bentaleb are expected to stay on Tyneside until the end of this coronavirus-affected season is completed.

  • WATCH THE DROP

    Paul Merson is worried Newcastle would get RELEGATED if the club bring in Mauricio Pochettino.

    The former Arsenal, Portsmouth and Aston Villa midfielder said in his Daily Star column: “Can you really see someone like Pochettino being a success there?

    “He likes to open games up and tries to win with flair. Newcastle’s squad isn’t made for that.

    “If they think it’s suddenly going to be Kevin Keegan football all over again they will end up getting relegated.

    “It’s all very well saying the new owners will throw money at it. But how much? And who could you attract to transform that team overnight? It won’t be easy.”

  • TRANSFER CHAOS

    Agents and brokers across the football world think that Newcastle prospective takeover will go through – but are confused as to who to speak to about transfers.

    The Newcastle Chronicle say one high-profile agent has told friends he believes the takeover is in the offing.

    Another said advisors were continuing to speak to Newcastle as a potential destination for players.

    And a third agent spoke about the “confusion” of who they are supposed to be dealing with.

    With the takeover delayed, the club is effectively in limbo when it comes to transfer business.

  • RONDON RETURN

    Former Newcastle striker Salomon Rondon has teased fans about a possible return to St James' Park.

    Rondon impressed on loan from West Brom last season scoring 12 goals and being named the club's player of the year, before linking up with ex-Toon boss Rafa Benitez at Chinese club Dalian Yifang.

    The 30-year-old told TNT Sports: “There was a lot of talk about what happened at Newcastle with the purchase of the Saudi group.

    “There are a lot of rumours about the interest, but you have to wait. My present at the moment is in China.

    “I have worked very well with Rafa for a year and a half. But you have to wait and see what happens. I would not look badly on a return to the Premier League.”

  • PHILIPPE MYSTERY

    Dimitar Berbatov has given his view on Philippe Coutinho's transfer situation.

    “There have been a lot of Premier League clubs linked with him, Arsenal, Chelsea, Newcastle and even Manchester United, but sometimes the obvious choice isn’t always the correct one,” the Bulgarian said.

    “Everyone thought he would do great when he moved to Barcelona but it didn’t work out, sometimes you need to step back to go forwards, he will go to a good team there is no question about that, but he needs the trust of a manager to believe in him and make him the main man so that he can play calm and be free to do what he does.

    “Other people will see him linked with a move to United and they will point out his connections with Liverpool and how he would never be forgiven if he switched to Old Trafford, but honestly, United don’t need him right now.”

  • RACE ON

    Newcastle are set to host the Britain's first major sporting event since coronavirus put the UK in lockdown.

    On Monday, racecourse Gosforth Park will host the national return of horse racing after 11 barren weeks.

    The Newcastle Chronicle say a staggering 369 entried were lodged for a 10-race card where runners will be limited to 12 per charge.

    There has been no racing in the UK since a jumps fixture at Wetherby on March 17.

  • HOT HOT HOT

    Steve Bruce has warned his Newcastle players to be prepared to play in the summer heat as look to earn a top-10 finish in the Premier League.

    He told NUFC TV: “We have had an unbelievable seven or eight weeks in terms of weather.

    “That adds it's problems as well.

    “If we are going to be playing (Premier League) in July it is unheard of.

    “We will address all of that.

    “It's unprecedented so we will do the best we can and make sure we are ready for whatever is ahead.”

  • PUBS SHUT, MIKE'S BUSY

    Mike Ashley was due to meet Newcastle United Supporters' Trust (NUST) representatives over a pint in May before the UK went into lockdown, according to trust chair Alex Hurst.

    Speaking on the Guardian's Football Weekly Extra podcast Hurst was asked how much dialogue the NUST have had with Ashley during his regime.

    “Depressingly little dialogue,” he said. “Frustratingly little dialogue. Funnily enough, I might get bitten on the a*** for this one, but they have talked about us meeting Mike Ashley in May this year before coronavirus kicked off so we thought we were making some kind of progress there.

    “It was going to be an informal meeting that involved beer, because that's how Mike likes it apparently, but sadly that might never happen now.

    “It's been really tough and a lot of decisions Newcastle United seemed to have made – not just in the last 12 months but before that – seemed to have been almost deliberately antagonistic towards the fan base, which is a strange thing to do as a football club but that's where we found ourselves unfortunately.”

  • GOOD MORNING, NEWCASTLE FANS

    Newcastle's would-be buyers hope the Premier League confirming its restart on June 17 will help them complete their £300million takeover.

    Video conferences and paperwork, plus uncertainty over the Prem relaunch and controversy over the Saudi-backed consortium, all mean the buy-out has been somewhat stuttering towards a conclusion.

    But with the Prem returning, Amanda Staveley, the Reuben brothers and Co believe the takeover can be completed smoothly and quickly.

    Nonetheless, another spanner in the works over TV coverage has been thrown in the works.

    Already dogged by claims of pirating Prem games owned by Qatar's beIN Sports, the FA have now also threatened Saudi Arabian broadcasts with legal action.

    The Times say the Football Association have written to Saudi network KSA Sports, ordering them to stop playing old Newcastle FA Cup matches – and copied the Prem into the letter.

    The letter states: “It has come to our attention that KSA Sports is engaged in the unauthorised and illegal broadcast of extracts from the matches…

    “As you have neither sought nor obtained permission from the FA or any of its authorised licensees to use this content on your channels, your present use is an infringement of the FA’s rights.

    “Broadcast piracy is a significant concern…”

    Meanwhile, ex-England striker Paul Merson insists Newcastle should keep Steve Bruce.

    And if they do sack him, “pragmatic” Rafa Benitez would be a far better option than football purist Mauricio Pochettino.

    TV pundit Merse says axing Bruce would be a “big mistake” as he has done a “fantastic job”.

    And he fears former Spurs chief Pochettino could even relegate the Toon if he tried to transform them too quickly into free-flowing entertainers.

  • TOON BACK THE CLOCK

    Project Restart will boost Newcastle's would-be buyers.

    That's the hope for the Saudi-led consortium fronted by Amanda Staveley and the Reuben brothers ahead of the Premier League resumption in June 17, with Newcastle facing Sheffield United over that weekend.

    Video conferences and paperwork, plus uncertainty over the Prem relaunch, complicated the Toon takeover.

    But now the backers hope and believe they can get the buy-out back up to full speed.

  • PROJECT RESTART 'NOT PERFECT'

    SunSport columnist Karren Brady says clubs have to accept Project Restart “won't be perfect” if they want the season finished.

    The West ham vice-chairman says: “It’s a delicate balance. 

    “But if we want to finish this season, we are all going to have to accept a restart won’t be perfect.

    “There are obvious and genuine concerns about what happens to your match results if your club has a number of players testing positive for coronavirus, or in self-isolation.

    And as a result you simply cannot field your usual or strongest starting XI. Or what if other teams play a weakened first XI by choice when they have nothing to play for, or they want to give their first-team players a longer break.

    “Or they simply want to protect players from catching the virus, and that ends up skewing results? Or what if your manager tests positive, as Arsenal’s did back in March?”

  • IT'S OUR TOON FOR GLORY

    Newcastle fans are dreaming of a takeover and FA Cup double

    With the buy-out of Mike Ashley's ownership crawling closer to a conclusion,the Toon will face Manchester City in the quarter-finals over the weekend of July 18-19

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