Newcastle United head into the short English Premier League (EPL) close season surrounded by uncertainty.
This has come after the collapse of the proposed Saudi take-over ——-with an owner who wants to sell the club but with no viable purchaser in place.
Club owner Mike Ashley was ready to sell the club to the investment group in a deal worth more than 305 million pounds.
But the take-over bid, announced in April, never emerged from the Premier League’s owners and directors test and on Thursday the consortium pulled out.
Fans, who had dreamt of big money signings and competing for European places, now face a more mundane reality for a team which finished 13th in the Premier League last season.
While there have been some reports of possible interest from potential purchasers in the US, no actual proposal has appeared.
Sources close to the Saudi consortium said they never had to deal with any rival bid.
Staveley has however suggested there may yet be some way to get the deal done.
Newcastle United managing director Lee Charnley offered similar hope by saying Ashley, founder of retail firm Frasers Group, remains committed to the Saudi deal.
“We acknowledge yesterday’s statement. Never say never, but to be clear Mike Ashley is 100 percent committed to this deal.
“However our current focus must now be on supporting (manager) Steve Bruce in the transfer market and on the preparations for the new season,” he said.
Ashley has not taken the club off the market but his chances of finding a new buyer may be hampered by the economic uncertainty following the pandemic.
“It is genuinely unlikely at the moment. Premier League buyouts either need very deep pockets (sovereign funds, et cetera) or a high degree of borrowing,” said football finance expert Rob Wilson of Sheffield Hallam University.
“This risk associated with the latter in an unsteady market looks unlikely. Hence, with no Saudi acquisition, it looks difficult,” he added.
Newcastle United have not featured in the UEFA Champions League since 2004.
They have not even won the English title since 1927 or the FA Cup since 1955, in spite of claiming one of the country’s largest fan bases.
One of the key problems for the bid was the continued conflict over Saudi Arabia’s response to cases of unauthorised broadcasting of Premier League games in the country.
This is part of a long-running dispute between the kingdom and neighbouring Qatar.
A source close to the bid said that PIF had offered to put together a Saudi consortium to buy the rights to broadcast the games in Saudi Arabia.
This is in view of the fact that Qatari company BeIN Sports, who owns the rights, has had its licence to broadcast in the kingdom removed.
Another source close to the deal put the blame for its collapse firmly on the Premier League.
“The problem with the deal was the intransigence of the Premier League. Everyone else was happy to proceed,” the source said.
The Premier League, who last year hired legal counsel to deal with the broadcast issues in Saudi, has declined to comment.
Former Newcastle United and England forward Alan Shearer said on Friday that disappointed fans were hoping that a new owner would yet emerge.
“There’s a lot of anger, understandably so, and a massive amount of disappointment,” he said.
“We can only hope and pray that new owners come in at some stage and take the club back to where it belongs because that’s what the fans of Newcastle United deserve.”
Edited By: Olawale Alabi) (NAN)
Plateau PDP set for state congress – Acting chairman
Mr Yakubu Chocho, Acting Chairman of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in Plateau, says all is now set for the state congress to elect new leaders of the party in the state.
Chocho told News Agency of Nigeria on Tuesday in Jos that arrangements had been put in place to receive the national officers of the party who would conduct the elections.
Consequently, after the expiration of their tenure on May 10, the state executives of the party were constituted into caretaker committee to act for three months.
The acting chairman said that the party had received directives from its national secretariat that the congress would hold on Aug. 8 or Aug.12.
According to him, the state is waiting for the national body of the party to conduct the congress.
“We will also ensure that all delegates keep to social distancing , wearing of face mask and washing of hands. Efforts will be made to provide adequate security for peaceful congresses,” he said.
Chocho added that the party was ready to receive the elected leaders who would be in-charge of its affairs without interference from the state officials.
Edited By: Chinyere Bassey and Abdullahi Yusuf (NAN)
COVID-19: Bayelsa schools ready, safe to re-open – Gov. Diri
Gov. Douye Diri of Bayelsa on Tuesday announced that the state had put in place measures to check the spread of the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) among students in exit classes billed to resume on Wednesday.
Diri gave the assurance at the ‘Safe School Reopening Train-the-Trainer’ programme in Yenagoa.
He said that the government had provided 10,000 face masks, temperature scanners, soap and water for all public and private schools in Bayelsa.
The governor inaugurated a 10-member Safe Schools Reopening Committee headed by his Deputy Chief of Staff, Mr Peter Akpe, to monitor implementation of the safety protocols across the state.
Diri urged the committee to ensure compliance with the safety protocols to curb infection.
He noted that Bayelsa had 339 COVID-19 cases at the moment.
Diri also noted that Rivers had 1,842 cases and Delta 1,520, saying that Bayelsa was listed the 23rd out of 36 states in infection rate.
“Out of the responsibility for the health of our dear children, we decided to close schools on March 26 even before we recorded the index case in Bayless, on April 27, 2020.
“I commend the efforts of our healthcare professionals who I describe as generals in the battlefield.
“With the steps we have taken, teachers have joined in the frontlines of the battle against the pandemic.
“We seek the cooperation of parents, teachers and other stakeholders to prevent teacher-to-student transmission of the virus and vice versa,” Diri said.
In his remarks, Dr Nathaniel Apoku, Co-Chairman of Bayelsa COVID-19 Task Force, said that 90 per cent of the 339 positive cases out of 5,000 people screened for the virus had been discharged.
“We have so far tested 5,000, we have only 24 active cases under our care.
“Our isolation centres are virtually empty, this is due to the commitment, dexterity and funding support by the government.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that other members of the Safe Schools Reopening Committee include Mr Freston Akpor, Permanent Secretary, Bayelsa Ministry of Information, and Mr Walter Liverpool, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education.
Edited By: Chioma Ugboma/Ijeoma Popoola (NAN)
Ebonyi govt pledges to promote breastfeeding, provides crèches, jingles
The Ebonyi Government has pledged to do everything possible to encourage breastfeeding among young mothers in the state to improve child and maternal survival.
The Commissioner for Health in Ebonyi, Dr Daniel Umezurike disclosed this on Tuesday during a press briefing to mark 2020 World Breastfeeding Week in Abakaliki.
Umezurike revealed that the state government considered the feeding critical by creating public awareness campaigns and jingles with support from partners to advocate breastfeeding in the state.
The commissioner also disclosed that civil servants who were nursing mothers in the state had been observing four months paid maternity leave to encourage breastfeeding.
He said that wife of the Governor, Mrs Rachael Umahi had established creches in the women development centre and strategic locations to enhance appropriate feeding.
“This is for mother to get close to their children, even at work so that they can breastfeed intermittently.
He added that they were also allowed after the leave resumption to close at mid-day to enable them return home to their babies to feed them appropriately.
“Breastfeeding is most important way of improving child and maternal survival. We take this very seriously.
“We do all these to encourage, protect and support breastfeeding in the state,” Umezurike said.
According to him, malnutrition is a challenge that reduces production of breast milk, when nursing mother are not properly fed.
Umezurike added that such families to include the downtrodden and widows were supported by Mrs Umahi to ensure family health were protected in the state.
He further stated that COVID-19 pandemic had affected activities, food production, consumption practices degrading land and ecosystems among others, thus every steps taken across life cycle to mitigate environmental degradation and climate crisis.
He stated that the pandemic had demonstrated that the global world interdepend and dependent on same planet, thus needs a healthy planet with support of breastfeeding.
Meanwhile, the Commissioner disclosed current situation report of COVID-19 in the state, saying that total confirmed cases is 871, deaths 25, discharged 804 and active cases is 36.
“We have three isolation centers and some on home isolation,” Umezurike said.
The Baby Friendly Initiative Coordinator in the ministry of Health, Mrs Beatrice Ojinkama described breastfeeding as foundation of live.
Ojinkama gave advantages of initiating breastfeeding to include serving as first immunization for a child to survive, help remove reserved placenta, help in family planning among others processes.
She called on the media to assist partners and the ministry in achieving the scheme.
Edited By: Dorcas Jonah/Maureen Atuonwu (NAN)
FG to resume Digital Switch Over roll out – Lai Mohammed
The Federal Government says it will “very soon’ resume the roll out of Digital Switch Over (DSO) – a transition from analogue to digital television broadcasting – across the country.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed stated this on Tuesday in Lagos at a ceremony to unveil the new amendment to the 6th Edition of the Broadcasting Code.
Fielding questions from stakeholders at the ceremony, the minister said the DSO suffered some set back which led to a hold after it was launched in six states.
He reiterated the commitment of the government to spread the massive benefits of digital television to the people, stressing that it was the fastest way to create jobs.
The minister assured the stakeholders that they would hear from the government on the resumption of the DSO roll out in the coming weeks.
Mohammed also told the stakeholders that government had been implementing policies and programmes to reposition the creative industry.
He said one of the major recommendations of the Post COVID-19 Initiative Committee on the Creative Industry chaired by ace comedian, Ali Baba was a restructure of the industry.
The minister reassured that the government would soon set up a committee on the implementation of the recommendations to move the industry forward.
The Minister also reiterated government’s commitment to assist the Newspaper Proprietors Association of Nigeria in securing the N10 billion Nigeria Media Intervention Fund from the Central Bank of Nigeria.
Edited By: Ismail Abdulaziz (NAN)