Albion’s perennial Premier League challenge potentially became a bit bigger yesterday – as struggling Newcastle were finally bought out.

Fans on Tyneside celebrated as a Saudi Arabian-backed £300 million takeover of the club was completed.

The Premier League has approved the takeover after receiving “legally binding assurances” that the Saudi state would not control the club.

Albion have defied the odds to stand sixth in the early-season Prem standings, backed by chairman and owner Tony Bloom.

They are into their fifth successive season among the elite.

Football finance lecturer Kieran Maguire believes the deal which sees Mike Ashley relinquish control of Toon increases competition in the table.

He also said Newcastle are well-placed to spend within Financial Fair Play limits.

Maguire told The Argus: “They are in a very strong position but they have got a lot of catching up to do.

“They can spend in effect limitless amounts on infrastructure, academy and training facilities. Those spends do not count towards FFP.

“Mike Ashley has spent less money than any other owner of a Premier League club over the last decade in terms of facilities.

“Tony Bloom’s strategy has been to really invest in the academy, training ground and so on with a view to bringing players through.

“In terms of their ability to compete in the market, I think most people would be surprised to learn that Newcastle’s wage bill is less than that of Crystal Palace.

“They now have plenty of wiggle room, ironically due to the fact that Mike Ashley ran Newcastle as a business quite well.

“Newcastle’s wages per year for players are £121 million and the Albion’s are £102 million.

“Arsenal spend £225 million so you can easily see Newcastle’s wage bill going up substantially.

“If you take a look at the cost of the squads, based on most recent accounts, Newcastle’s cost £216 million and the Albion’s £202 million.

“That gap is going to become a chasm.

“Historically you could say Newcastle have been part of our peer group. We beat them 3-0 twice last season.

“If the Saudi money comes in, the chances of that happening again have got to be diminished.”

The takeover at Newcastle went through despite opposition on human rights grounds.

Maguire said: “There is no doubt the larger clubs have been lobbying the Premier League for some time to oppose the deal.

“There is an element of self interest.

“Six into four doesn’t go, seven into four doesn’t go particularly well either from the perspective of chasing the Champions League.

“In terms of the impact for the Albion, every one place in the Premier League is worth £2 million.

“If this increases the chance of Newcastle United finishing above the Albion, that has implications.

“Historically I think it’s fair to say the Albion and Newcastle have been not too far apart in the Premier League and not too far away from relegation either.


“It’s potentially one fewer relegation contender each year and that has significant financial implications for a club such as the Albion because we know which pool we are fishing in.”

Campaign group Fair Game, which has called for the reform of football, has claimed Newcastle’s new owners “are not fit and proper” and that the club’s “proud” history has been “hijacked”.

But Toon legend Alan Shearer was in celebratory mood as he posted on Twitter: “Yesssssssss. We can dare to hope again.”