The two-week international break has been a relatively quiet time on Tyneside with a lull in headline-grabbing events. On the back of the Kevin Keegan-Mike Ashley courtroom showdown and a hectic fixture list it has provided some much-needed calm and a chance to relax before the Championship starts up again. On the back of two consecutive home draws Newcastle remain top of the table with three and four-point leads over West Brom and Middlesbrough respectively. It might have seemed unlikely at the beginning of the summer, but the Toon are now in a position in which they want to remain. The main talking points from last week were some interesting comments from controversial midfielder Joey Barton on a number of issues. For a time they overshadowed the ongoing takeover rumours.
Talks are still being held with local businessman Barry Moat about a takeover of the club, but progress is frustratingly slow for the fans that can’t wait to see the back of Ashley. The current owner is reluctant to budge on his valuation of the club, so the £100m asking price remains one of the main stumbling blocks to the deal being done. Talks are being held with other groups from across the world, but the answer could lie closer to home. The Newcastle United Supporters Trust is leading a bid by a large number of Newcastle fans to buy a share in the club. The group initially want to have a say on how the club is run with a view to potentially owning the club outright in the future. A figure of around £20m has apparently already been pledged and has the backing of a number of high profile figures. One of the main aims of the group is to strengthen the club’s ties with the local community, which have weakened to an all-time low under Ashley. The trust’s spokesman, Trevor Hastie, has said: “We want to show that a supporters trust can be a truly representative supporters organisation.” While similar schemes have worked further down the football league it is increasingly hard for football fans to have a say in how their club is run this high up the ladder.
Joey Barton has ensured that, despite not playing through injury, he can still make the headlines after a number of candid interviews with the media. Although this writer is not Barton’s biggest fan, he does at least speak refreshingly honestly for a footballer and does not just come out with the usual clich