Steve Bruce would welcome a £300m, largely Saudi Arabian-funded takeover of Newcastle United.
With the deal to buy out Mike Ashley believed to be close to completion, Bruce has addressed the issue for the first time, while also revealing that all 40 of his senior players and staff tested negative for coronavirus this week.
“I would love to see it happen and I’d love to be part of it,” Newcastle’s manager told Sky Sports as speculation that the takeover has been approved by the Premier League intensified in the Middle East. “If it’s good for Newcastle and the club are going to try and compete with these [top] teams, to be part of it would be great. If it happens, I’d be delighted.”
There has been considerable talk that the consortium, comprising Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, which would assume an 80% stake, Reuben Brothers and Amanda Staveley, intend to appoint a higher-profile manager in the mould of Mauricio Pochettino or Rafael Benítez but Bruce backs himself to confound the doubters.
“You do get labelled in the game but I’d back myself, of course I would,” he said. “To be in a position where you’re actually challenging and you have a good enough team as Newcastle did in 1995 [under Kevin Keegan] and then, later, under Sir Bobby Robson as well, would be wonderful. Management, whether you’re managing in the lower division or you’re right at the top, is about getting the best out of what you’ve got. I’d back myself.”
The proposed takeover has been widely opposed because of the Saudi involvement, including by Amnesty International and Hatice Cengiz, fiancée of murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Bruce was relieved that 40 Newcastle personnel tested negative for Covid-19 before the return to physically distanced training on Tuesday. On Thursday they were re-tested in line with the Premier League’s Project Restart protocols.
“We’re all together here – and all 40 of us have tested negative,” said Bruce. “We hope that’s the case today.”
Danny Rose, the Tottenham left-back on loan at St James’ Park, has claimed the Premier League has treated players like “lab rats” but it seems his fears have been allayed by Paul Catterson, Newcastle’s club doctor.
“What step one [of Project Restart] has done has enabled us to be in a safe environment, which was paramount for everybody,” Bruce said. “It has allayed everybody’s fears if they had any. The Doc [Catterson] has been excellent. I have said from the start you have more chance of picking something up in a supermarket.”