AMBITIOUS plans by a fans group to buy Newcastle United were officially launched yesterday.
Newcastle United Supporters Trust (NUST) kick-started its Yes We Can campaign at Newcastle Civic Centre and confirmed its ultimate aim was to buy the club.
More than £20m has already been secured from businesses and individuals, and the trust is confident more can be raised to reach the £100m asking price for the club. The group’s bid comes amid renewed speculation that a takeover of Newcastle United has come closer thanks to the resolution of the club’s dispute with former manager Kevin Keegan.
Board member Malcolm Shiels admitted there were challenges for the group to buy the club outright, but said it was a realistic aim. He added: “We want to have dialogue with the club and some kind of representation, be that someone sat on the board or part ownership or even full ownership of the club.
“Full ownership will be difficult but not unrealistic. We have a model and it is being critically examined by experts so we know it is fine to take to the supporters.
“We are here to get the fans more involved in the club.”
The scheme is partly based on fans taking £20,000 from their pension fund to buy a stake in the club. Financial expert Lynn Steele, of West Yorkshire based firm SIPP Brokers, is backing the plan to buy the club and is a member of the trust and Toon fan. She explained how it would work.
“We need around 4,000 investors to put in the £20,000 and then we have the magical £100m figure as HM Revenue and Customs will top it up with £5,000 in tax relief.
The money could come from businesses, individuals or from pension pots. We haven’t tried yet and we already have £20m committed, I think it could be very easy to get the rest with some effort.
“It could take three to six months to get the money raised if we are using the pension model. If we get more than £100m then we can put more money into the club.”
If the trust gained control at the club, a board of directors and a chairman would be appointed to run the club.
They would be accountable to the fans in a similar way to the models at Real Madrid and Barcelona. NUST also outlined other aims, including setting up supporters panels and surgeries which would allow fans to air problems and come up with solutions.
The trust wants to increase involvement with local charities and will look at giving away tickets to worthy causes as a thank you for their contribution to the community.
Another NUST member Steve Hastie, said: “This club has been in a void for the last two and half years, there has been no communication to the fans.
“We hope that any new owner, if it is not us, will appreciate the fans more, we want them to start listening.”