There is anger among Newcastle supporters over the failed Saudi-led takeover of the club, former Magpies striker Alan Shearer has said.
Shearer, who also managed the Tyneside club briefly in 2009, said fans’ hopes had been raised of a change of ownership which would enable them to truly compete with the Premier League’s ‘Big Six’.
The parties involved in the proposed takeover released a statement on Thursday announcing they had withdrawn their offer, blaming among other things the “prolonged process” involved.
It is understood the Premier League, which was conducting its owners’ and directors’ test on the bidders, had concerns that the Saudi Public Investment Fund was too closely linked to the kingdom’s rulers.
Shearer told BBC Radio 5 Live on Friday morning: “There’s a lot of anger, understandably so, and a massive amount of disappointment.
“They want their club to compete, they want their club to move forward, that’s why yesterday was such a disappointing day.”
Shearer added: “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 deserve.”
The withdrawal leaves Mike Ashley still in charge at St James’ Park. He is understood to have secured a £17million non-refundable deposit from the Saudi-led consortium.
An American businessman, Henry Mauriss, has been linked with a takeover bid for the club.
The Premier League was urged by human rights groups to reject the Saudi bid over its record, while the kingdom was criticised by the World Trade Organisation for failing to do enough to tackle piracy.
A WTO report issued last month found the beoutQ network, which illegally broadcast a range of sporting events including Premier League matches, had been facilitated by the Saudis.
It is understood the Premier League’s chief concern, and which it sought most information on, was the relationship between the PIF and the kingdom’s rulers.
Newcastle managing director Lee Charnley said Ashley remained “100 per cent committed” to the deal to sell the club.
He told Sky Sports: “We acknowledge the statement issued on Thursday. Never say never but to be clear Mike Ashley is 100 per cent committed to this deal (sale).
“However our current focus must now be on supporting Steve Bruce in the transfer market and on the preparations for the new season.”