The news tonight that Newcastle United are being bought by a Saudi oligarchy is as grotesque as the idea that it will be celebrated by supporters of a club who will not recognise it in five years.
They might well not care. They might well believe that this is the first step towards Super Club status, but boy oh boy what a cost. A working class team in a working class city has been swallowed whole by a Middle East dynasty who the future is going to crush.
Where is their understanding of history? Ashley doesn’t care, he’s off and the only people advising on this deal are those who stand to benefit from it.
But even the most basic understanding of geopolitics will convince anyone not looking at this with rose tinted glasses that the whole enterprise is doomed. The Middle East is going to be transformed over the next decade, one way or another, and all who think the era of the oil barons will last have missed something big.
We’re either heading for global warming that will render much of the region uninhabitable or we’re heading for a green economy in which the price of oil will collapse, and the PSG’s and Manchester City’s are going to be hit as though with a sledgehammer.
And even if none of that happens – and it’s going to happen and you can bank on it – the big oil holdouts will be so globally reviled, as the pace of change continues to come, and revelations about what they’ve known all this time come out, that an entire generation of fans of these clubs will despise them for the link. It is a certainty.
The politics and the likelihood of the party ending soon is only one reason why their fans should be fearful of this move. Newcastle is not a community club any longer, not now, now after this. Like Man City before them, there will never be a version of Newcastle again that the fans can truly say they built. Those days are over at St James’.
And this brings me to our friends across town, them and us really. There are few Celtic fans now who honestly would not love to see the back of this board, but there is an element of truth in the idea that you must be careful what you wish for.
Fan ownership is one thing, and if that could be assured then I’d be all for it. The club would need to be professionally run, but some form of fan oversight and ownership would be the best thing ever to happen to us. It would stop us, forever, from falling into the oligarch’s hands. A certain other club in this city has fans who would have no such qualms.
There is a certain expectation that the next few weeks will see a dramatic development across the city as they finally own up to last year’s losses. They are liable to sky-high, the sort that casts into doubt the very idea that the club is operating as a going concern.
With those accounts will be a glib assurance that everything is okay, that all the bills are being paid, that the business carries on as it always has. Their fans would be mugs to believe it, but we know that they will and that they won’t even question it.
Theirs is a support which never wants to dig too deep into anything that they might not like. The truth is, there are serious questions which are begging to be asked at Ibrox, and I believe firmly that if their situation was repeated at Celtic Park that we would be asking them.
Celtic fans would want to know who was paying our bills. We built our club. We continue to be its critical source of funding. It belongs to us. We care about it, and so we care how it is being financed, by who … and what they want in return.
That would keep me up at night. It would fill me with a fear that would never quite go away. All the carefully worded statements in the world would not make me feel one bit better not knowing who was at the controls and what the price was going to be.
If when those results come out their fans do ask those questions, they will be entitled to respect and support and encouragement.
If they celebrate like Newcastle fans are tonight, not caring what the short, medium or long term consequences will be then they deserve nothing less than our scorn, because it is quite evident that something is wrong here because the numbers don’t add up at all.