COMMENT: Good riddance to Newcastle United's damned desert mirage
Good riddance to an absolute shit show from start to finish. Good riddance to a mirage that took months of cruel hope to fade away. They say if something is too good to be true, then it probably is. For Newcastle United, read: if it's something good, it ain't happening to us.
Good riddance, even if it feels like the last plane flying over a deserted island with ‘HELP sponsored by SPORTS DIRECT’ writ large on the burning shore. There will be no tea towels on heads outside St James' Park, nor 'Halal the Lads' scrawled on repurposed bedspreads.
Petrodollars won't disturb the local coffers because greed outdid greed, and TV rights ultimately kiboshed what the plight of Yemeni children could not. Be under no illusion, this deal was not killed by the pang of Premier League conscience, but by cold hard cash of Qatari descent. In the end it was an obscene waiting game because those in control of the 'most exciting league in the world' couldn't make a decision about which cash-rich country to piss off.
Alas it's over, and it must feel like some kind of perverted relief. At least the Geordie Nation will be spared acute interrogation about their individual thoughts on bone saw etiquette and human rights wrongs. The blinding spotlight that shone on them for weeks as they navigated a moral maze will at least leave them be. It is funny how the humble fan is subjected to more scrutiny and questioning about their stance on the free press and geopolitics than our actual government ever was or will be. Maybe it's because transfer fees move the needle more than arms deals.
Of course no one will give a shit now. Newcastle supporters won't be asked about their take on the persecution of Uighur Muslims in the People's Republic of China, nor the rise of totalitarianism in Turkey. But for just a few months in the year of 2020, Bigg Market became the equivalent of the Hague. Everyone was expected to be an expert on Amnesty International's latest findings, and choose between UNICEF or NUFC.
It was a fun Riyadh while it lasted but it's all over now. Mike Ashley and his media acolytes will no doubt spin it however they choose, but the real losers are the fans. Just to twist the knife in further - because why the fuck not - the takeover was terminated on the anniversary of Alan Shearer signing for the club. Back then, things were far from perfect but there was undying hope and an actual sense of belonging. Newcastle supporters swarmed to the ground to hear their new messiah speak at their home from home. For good or for bad, it was their club. Now following Newcastle is surely muscle memory - a zombied existence.
Of course the prospective owners were bad news. Of course it would have led to claims of blood on the Tyne. There were many supporters who voiced their concerns about the takeover, and bristled at being used as vessels for sportswashing. But they also dreamed of better times for a change; to look down at the faces of their sons and daughters on a frosty matchday and see hope instead of despair - or worse - apathy. They were promised heavy investment into the local area and economy. An investment that never came from the government of their own land.
It's dead now, and good riddance. It always felt like a cruel trick and so it proved to be. The only hope now - if anyone in Newcastle dares to hope anymore - is that new and legitimate possibilities present themselves sharpish. It is a mark of how desperate things have become that so many beleaguered fans were willing to decorate their social media handles with little green flags and allow grey mist into matters of black and white. One day, Newcastle's support will get the owners and custodians their true faith so richly deserves. Inshallah.