Newcastle United have new owners - it's official. And we've been here before with big takeovers.
We're not talking your average consortium, either. You can split football club takeovers into two broad sections: the big and the huge. Newcastle's sale to Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund (PIF) is definitely in the latter.
Just as with oil-rich owners of the past, there's a tried and tested path of how to act when you take over a team. It's not all Galacticos from Day 1 - and often most teams with these super-rich owners begin to mirror each other.
What does the future hold for Newcastle? It'll look something a little like this.
1. Owners place faith in the old manager (for now)
When to expect: Any time from the start to one year in
So the owners have bought their brand new club: but often the figurehead of the footballing side of the brand is already there. Claudio Ranieri was Chelsea manager when they were bought out in 2003 by Roman Abramovich; at Manchester City it was Mark Hughes, Antoine Kombouare at Paris Saint-Germain. None of them were sacked immediately.
Hughes was given a season and a half at the wheel of Manchester City, while Ranieri was given a year in charge of Chelsea, ending the season by shouting back, "No I'll be sacked in May" when Charlton fans chanted that he would be sacked in the summer. Even Kombouare got two months in charge at Paris - while the Glazers didn't mess with Alex Ferguson's position (and why would they?).
Perhaps owners do this as not to disrupt rhythm or agitate fans. That doesn't seem like it would be an issue at Newcastle, however... sorry, Steve.
2. The rumour mill explodes, a South American superstar signs
When to expect: First transfer window
Fantasy XIs of the world's best players arriving at the club in question begin surfacing over the internet. That's probably already happened with Newcastle.
But in the cases of Chelsea, City and PSG, each of them signed a South American superstar, almost as a gift to the club and a statement of intent. Hernan Crespo became Chelsea's marquee buy during their first flourish of transfer activity back in 2003; the day that City were bought out, the owners purchased Robinho.
Even PSG's first major signing following QSI's acquisition was a Brazilian, Maxwell, almost as a winter facilitator to land his friend Zlatan Ibrahimovic that summer - though signing Thiago Silva ahead of the following season definitely follows that pattern, too. And look at Anzhi and Malaga, who landed Roberto Carlos and Julio Baptista, respectively, after their windfalls.
Maybe Newcastle could be in for Philippe Coutinho?
3. Impressive improvement follows
When to expect: From the start
While Newcastle United's manager in the early days of the Saudi regime might not be the one who delivers the really big prizes, expect there to be conversation about how well he's doing.
Even if that's Bruce. Ranieri, after all, got Chelsea to a Champions League semi-final and was considered somewhat unlucky to lose his job to Jose Mourinho. Look at Kombouare at PSG, too - he was sacked while top of the league.
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There is likely to be an upturn at Newcastle, whatever happens. Call it new owner bounce, if you will.
4. A-list manager joins
When to expect: A year or so in
Now we're getting to the exciting part. Mourinho arrived at Chelsea a year into the project. Roberto Mancini, fresh from consecutive Scudetti at Inter Milan, replaced Hughes at City in his second season.
PSG went for Carlo Ancelotti just weeks into the Qatari era. Anzhi hired Guus Hiddink. Wolverhampton Wanderers, remember, tempted Nuno Espirito Santo, while Blackburn Rovers managed to sway Kenny Dalglish to Ewood Park during Jack Walker's revolution.
Antonio Conte for Newcastle? He seems like the most obvious candidate for the job - simply as the biggest name out of work right now.
5. Domestic success and new sponsorships follow
When to expect: Two seasons in
Generally a new club owner will begin to see the fruits of their investments around two seasons in with some kind of success.
Chelsea won the League Cup and Premier League title in Abramovich's second season in west London, while City's first success was a 2011 FA Cup under Mark Hughes. Carlo Ancelotti secured a title in his first season in Paris, too.
Fun88 betting's time as Newcastle sponsor could be coming to an end, as the new Saudi Arabian owners get something a little more... them... on the front of the Magpies' shirts.
6. The state of the league changes - adding other clubs into the elite bracket
When to expect: Two to four seasons in
One season of a new club competing feels new. Two and you're starting to get used to it. Three and a new order is established.
The Premier League was a duopoly of Manchester United and Arsenal, until Abramovich bought Chelsea; the league really established the top four - adding Liverpool - around 2006/07, with the Reds buoyed by European success. This expanded into a top six in the early 2010s with Manchester City's success - though Tottenham were added into, too.
PSG turned Ligue 1 into a one-horse race, with a secondary tier of two to three challengers. Takeovers in Italy over the past decade have helped to form a top six of Milan, Inter, Juventus, Roma, Atalanta and Lazio.
Newcastle might displace a club from the Big Six. They might make it a Big Seven, or a Big Five, ousting Arsenal and Tottenham. But also, don't be surprised if the new order of things becomes a Top Eight - and that Leicester are considered one of the bigger boys now. There's certainly precedent for other clubs' statuses being bumped up with the influx of money somewhere else.
7. Club craves prettier philosophy
When to expect: Five seasons in
So you're starting to compete for trophies. Now what? Most owners tend to want to actually start enjoying the football a little while after.
Manchester City went down the route of bringing in Txiki Begiristain, with the end goal of securing Pep Guardiola and giving him free reign to shape the club's style. PSG veered away from Unai Emery after his failures in Europe to bring in someone a little more cultured in Thomas Tuchel, while many of Chelsea's appointments over the past decade - Sarri, Tuchel, Lampard but a few - have been made with an eye towards generating a less pragmatic style of play.
Liverpool hired Brendan Rodgers to get the team playing a possession style while Wolves did the same with Bruno Lage and Southampton plumped for Ralph Hasenhuttl following takeovers. While Antonio Conte may well be the first new manager of the Saudi era for Newcastle, don't be surprised to see an exciting young possession enthusiast come to define the club later on...
8. Club encounters stadium expansion difficult
When to expect: Five to ten seasons in
Part of what makes these clubs attractive to buy is that all the facilities are already there: many clubs bought by the biggest billionaires are ones with adequate stadiums.
A Parc des Princes expansion ruled out before the Paris 2024 Olympics, despite PSG wanting otherwise. Chelsea have concocted plans to build on Stamford Bridge but faced difficulties with the project, while Manchester City haven't bothered, choosing to build up the area around the Etihad Stadium, rather than moving completely. Even the Glazers at Manchester United have had an interesting relationship with Old Trafford itself since acquiring the club.
It's natural to start wondering about where to go after a prolonged period of time in charge of your new super-club. Turning the old ground into something new is often a problem - a problem billionaires aren't exactly used to - so expect similar questions at St. James's Park in a few years' time.
9. The club becomes a regular competitor at the very elite level
When to expect: 10 seasons in
Chelsea are extremely unusual in that they've won two Champions Leagues in the 21st Century. No other club has won the tournament in the 21st Century having never won it in the 20th.
Manchester City's and Paris Saint-Germain's Middle Eastern owners are both about a decade into their project. It's only now that each club is being regularly discussed as a likely winner for the Champions League. It took around 10 years before Abramovich's Chelsea landed the trophy, too.
Maybe hold off from that bet on Old Big Ears to end up on Tyneside next season. We could be waiting a while for that level of return.
10. Academy begins producing superstars, as the first few signings become club legends
When to expect: 12 + seasons in
Roman Abramovich bought Chelsea in 2003. The likes of Tammy Abraham, Mason Mount and Callum Hudson Odoi had finished cooking between 2018 and 2020, ready to integrate into the first team at the club.
In the north west, City have brought Phil Foden into the first team as their first real academy success of the modern era - assuming you don't count Jadon Sancho, of course. There should be more around the corner. PSG have produced the likes of Kingsley Coman in recent years, though had trouble integrating them into such a star-studded line-up. By other timelines, you should expect a PSG academy star in the first team by 2024 at the latest.
And now looking back at some of the first few big buys in each of those big three sides, Petr Cech, Didier Drogba, Ashley Cole, David Silva, Yaya Toure, Sergio Aguero, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Thiago Silva and Marco Verratti all became club legends where there were. It could well be that the first few signings of this exciting new Newcastle era do the same...
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