The NUFC Takeover Saga: Who's who?

The who's who of the NUFC takeover
There are several key characters involved in the potential takeover of Newcastle United Credit: PA Images

The seemingly endless takeover talk that surrounds Newcastle United was in the headlines again this week.

In an interview with Good Morning Britain, Hatice Cengiz, the fiancé of murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, repeated her calls for the Premier League and the government to stop Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund (PIF) from buying the Magpies.

Ms Cengiz believes the inner workings of the Saudi state are responsible for her fiancé's death, claims that are denied by the Saudi authorities.

A large majority of the Newcastle United faithful, however, want the takeover to happen quickly and bring the curtain down on the Mike Ashley era.

This latest instalment in the NUFC takeover box set has rumbled on for months now and, like any gripping story, it's full of characters and personalities.

So who are the key players involved and how do they fit in to this tale of suspense, intrigue, false dawns and hope on Tyneside?

Amanda Staveley is currently involved in a legal dispute with Barclays Bank Credit: PA Images

Amanda Staveley

Newcastle fans will be very familiar with the name Amanda Staveley nowadays.

Ms Staveley's name was being spoken in the same breath as the T-word three years ago. She was involved in takeover talks with current owner Mike Ashley back in 2017, although Mr Ashley later branded them "a complete waste of time".

Manchester City fans will also be all too familiar with her abilities as a financier. It was Ms Staveley who helped broker Sheikh Mansour's acquisition of City in 2008.

Although she could be forgiven for being a little preoccupied at this moment in time. She is currently involved in a £1.6bn legal battle with Barclays.

She claims her firm, PCP Capital Partners, is owed money for a Middle East investment deal it helped broker for the bank.

Barclays has refuted her claims, saying they are 'made of sand'.

If (that crucial word when it comes to discussing potential takeovers of Newcastle United) the deal does eventually go through, it's understood Ms Staveley's PCP Capital Partners will have a 10% stake in the club.

Premier League Chief Executive Richard Masters has said he wants to see a conclusion to the takeover saga soon Credit: PA Images

Richard Masters

Richard Masters is the chief executive of the Premier League, he will have a considerable influence in the outcome of the takeover saga.

Mr Masters was only formally appointed to the post in December having served on an interim basis before that.

He has worked in the sports industry for more than 25 years and joined the Premier League back in 2006.

Other notable spells include working for the English Football League (EFL) and also working for the England and Wales Cricket Board.

It's the Premier League's 'Owners' and Directors' Test' that's understood to be the final hurdle in the entire takeover process.

The Premier League's official website says the test is "applied to prospective owners and directors, who are then subject to a review on a seasonal basis."

Mr Masters recently said in an appearance before the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee that he hoped the takeover process would "conclude shortly".

It was a guarded comment that lends nothing but more suspense to the whole story.

Mike Ashley has owned Newcastle United since 2007 Credit: PA Images

Mike Ashley

Every riveting story needs some controversy and for many Newcastle United fans Mike Ashley is the ultimate pantomime villain.

Mr Ashley has owned Newcastle United since 2007.

In that time he's overseen two relegations to the Championship, has fallen out with club legends like Kevin Keegan and went through his fair share of managers.

However, it would be unfair to say he hasn't spent money during his tenure or been an unqualified disaster for the club.

In some quarters Mr Ashley has also been praised for how he has run Newcastle United in business terms.

He says he has been looking to sell the club for years but only for the right price. The current deal is understood to be around £300m, that's down from the £350m touted previously.

Mr Ashley's ownership is so unpopular that many fans have adopted an 'anyone but Ashley' attitude to the takeover and would be seemingly relieved just to have someone new at the top.

Ultimately, the club is Mr Ashley's to sell so it is him who holds the keys to the castle.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman is the most prominent member of the Saudi royal family Credit: PA Images

Mohammed Bin Salman

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, in a similar vein to Mike Ashley, is a controversial figure to many.

The Prince was appointed to the second most senior position in the Kingdom in 2017, making him the heir to the throne.

It is Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund (PIF) that will own the majority stake, 80%, in the Magpies if (that important word again) the deal goes through.

Therefore Prince Salman will have very close ties to Newcastle United and future investments.

The Prince and the inner circle of the Saudi state were thrust into the international spotlight in 2018 when Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist and vocal critic of the state, was murdered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Prince Salman has vehemently denied the accusations that he officially sanctioned the killing of Mr Khashoggi. He claims there was a "rogue operation" involved.

Saudi Arabia has received international criticism for its part in the ongoing civil war in Yemen.

The state has been also been criticised for other alleged human rights violations, with human rights advocates branding their prospective takeover of Newcastle United as 'sportswashing', a term used to describe a country's activities to distract attention away from its human rights record.

However, many Magpies fans are unfazed by the reports surrounding their prospective new owners and have pointed to the ownership circles of other clubs that haven't had as much attention or criticism.

Hatice Cengiz was the fiancée of murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi Credit: PA Images

Hatice Cengiz

Hatice Cengiz may not have any formal powers to block the takeover but she's certainly made her feelings known about the entire thing.

Ms Cengiz is the fiancé of Jamal Khashoggi and holds the inner workings of the Saudi state responsible for his death.

In her interview with Good Morning Britain this week, she warned Magpies fans that if they thought the current setup was bad the new one would be "a nightmare."

Ms Cengiz's remarks about piracy relate to a World Trade Organisation ruling that Saudi Arabia failed to take action against an illegal pirate broadcasting service, BeoutQ, which streamed Premier League matches.

What does the future hold for Newcastle United? Credit: PA Images

No one can tell with any certainty the direction of travel for Newcastle United.

The takeover saga has been a story of excitement and hope for some; scepticism and disbelief for others.

But like every story ever told, it has to end somewhere.