Newcastle United fans in Singapore sceptical about BN's takeover bid
Newcastle fans in Singapore not getting too excited over BN's bid, after multiple failed buyover attempts
When news broke of Bellagraph Nova (BN) Group's bid to take over Newcastle United, David Alexander was excited at the prospect of fellow Singaporeans owning the English Premier League club he supports.
The 44-year-old co-founded the Newcastle United Supporters Club Singapore (NUFCSG) in 2000 and it now has about 1,300 members.
However, like many members of the Toon Army, he was already "expecting the worst" as there have been multiple failed takeover bids for the Magpies. The BN Group is the sixth group linked with a takeover since the club were officially put on sale by British owner Mike Ashley in October 2017.
"It's nice to have our fellow Singaporeans raising a bid and showing an interest to invest in our beloved football club," said Alexander.
"But honestly, I had zero expectations because we have so many takeover bids and enquiries.
"The latest one was the very big one from Saudi (Arabia's Public Investment Fund) but everything dragged on and nothing materialised. I was very disappointed in the outcome."
He is not alone in his scepticism.
Event producer Jonathan Drape-Comyn is a life-long Magpies fan but is no longer as invested in football after 13 years of leadership under Ashley and numerous takeover rumours. The Newcastle native used to attend every game before he moved to Singapore last March.
But the 25-year-old told The Straits Times: "I've become ambivalent towards the actual football and I won't stay up till 3am to watch matches... We want our club to be for the people and the city, not a rich person's play toy."
So when the BN Group announced a bid for the club last week, Drape-Comyn was "immediately sceptical" after "13 years of rumours and potential takeovers".
And he was even more so after Reuters reported on Saturday that BN Group had doctored photographs of former United States president Barack Obama in its publicity materials, while raising other questions about the group's credentials, such as not being registered in France even though it said its headquarters are in Paris.
The group was founded by Singaporean cousins Terence and Nelson Loh and Chinese jewellery merchant Evangeline Shen.
When the BN Group announced its bid, Drape-Comyn went to check out its registered Singapore address at a four-storey building in Novena on Saturday and tweeted: "Turns out it's actually above one of my favourite restaurants. They do a great Hor Fun (takeaway equiv to beef in black bean sauce)."
When asked if the BN Group had reached out to them, a committee member of NUFCSG, Terence Ong, said: "To the best of my knowledge, as well as that of the NUFCSG main committee, we have not had contact with anyone about a possible takeover of Newcastle United Football Club."
Alexander added: "Whoever our new owners are, I hope they will invest in our club and bring us to the next level where we can hopefully play against the best European clubs again."