Newcastle boss Steve Bruce is adamant that owner Mike Ashley wants the best for the Premier League club following the collapse of a Saudi-backed takeover bid.
An investment group, which included the Saudi Public Investment Fund, withdrew its bid for the club in July after waiting months for the English top-flight’s approval. Newcastle issued a statement this week saying the Premier League had rejected the takeover based on its owners and directors test.
The club said it “did not accept that Premier League chief executive Richard Masters and the Premier League have acted appropriately in relation to this matter”. But the Premier League delivered a strongly worded response on Thursday that made it clear it had not pulled the plug on the deal.
Sportswear tycoon Ashley has been a deeply unpopular figure among the Newcastle support for a lack of investment in the team, allied to a number of controversial decisions such as handing his company naming rights to the club’s St James’ Park stadium in 2011. Bruce, who met Ashley at the club’s training base on Wednesday, said: “To be fair to Mike, he only wants what’s best for the club. He was in quite a unique situation. It doesn’t look as if it’s happened, so for me it’s about getting on with business as usual and trying to do the best we can.”
Ashley has sanctioned deals for striker Callum Wilson, full-back Jamal Lewis, midfielder Jeff Hendrick and winger Ryan Fraser as Newcastle look to improve on their 13th-place finish last season.
“I don’t have everyday dealings with him, he’s got so much going on in his life,” said Bruce. “The most important thing is the relationship a manager has with his CEO. You’re not going to see eye to eye all the time, but when three or four people walk through the door of the calibre we’ve had, it obviously helps. If I look where we are now from where we were 12 months ago, the squad is stronger and better.”