It has been noted on these very pages before just how exceedingly unfair it seems that Newcastle United – by some considerable distance, the richest football club in the world – are not permitted to spend the vast wealth at their disposal. 

Instead, tethered by the restraints and regulations of Financial Fair Play, a club whose owners have far greater resources than that of Manchester City’s must pinch their pennies, adhering to a budget based on income, over windfall. 

Newcastle’s owners are worth close to £350 billion. They can afford to shop at Harrods. Instead, they’re being made to purchase their luxury items from a Tesco Express. 

No matter the rights or wrongs of this, it is unquestionably a situation that contravenes market forces that drive every other industry other than football.

Perhaps too there is another point that transcends debate, that Newcastle’s enforced parsimony exposes inherent flaws that reside within FFP, a structure that is too rigid and uniform, and doesn’t allow for extremely wealthy benefactors taking on a club, willing to invest in it fully.

Again though, no matter, because FFP – along with the Premier League’s PSR (Profit and Sustainability Rules) - exists and furthermore Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) knew of their existence before committing to an 80% ownership of Newcastle in October 2021. 

And when this is acknowledged it leads us to an altogether more fascinating discussion, one that includes conjecture that barely seems feasible given the sizable brain trust employed by PIF. 

On taking control of the North-East giants for the substantial sum of £300m, did the club’s new owners under-estimate just how prohibitive these regulations were going to be?

As stated, this feels unlikely, just as another theory seems amiss, one that has them erroneously believing seismic changes were afoot post-Covid regarding FFP. 

Yet if both of these scenarios are dismissed, what are we left with? 

We’re left with a club that has been shrewdly invested in across five transfer windows, who last season reached the lucrative realms of the Champions League ahead of schedule, and yet still now find themselves in the position where they must sell before they buy. 

However you look at it, it feels like a miscalculation has been made somewhere along the way.

However you look at it, it feels like all of the impressive momentum previously made is in grave danger of stalling. 

Those in the shop window, according to various reports, include their leading goalscorer Alexander Isak, their best defender Sven Botman, and their jewel in the crown, Bruno Guimaraes and clearly selling any of these star men will amount to a significant backwards step, even if every pound is reinvested. 

Since arriving at St James Park, Isak has become a hero to live betting aficionados, firing 24 goals in 54 appearances. Botman has helped shore up Newcastle’s rearguard, one that conceded a miserly 0.8 goals per 90 last term. Guimaraes meanwhile has become this new-look team’s heart and soul, spirit and adventure. He is beloved by the city and its inhabitants.

Yet if sacrificing any of these high-performers is not a viable option – for all that Newcastle’s CEO Darren Eales insists that it is – what other directions are left for a club boxed in with a £73.4m operating loss for the year ending June 30th, 2023? 

To wait. That’s it. That’s the other alternative. To wait and to further build the infrastructure, and the revenue streams, to better match that of their direct competitors who have resided at the top table for far longer. 

This all feels like a long way from the giddiness that greeted the takeover, that saw fans rubbing their hands in glee and anticipating moves for global superstars of the ilk of Kylian Mbappe.  

When the takeover was confirmed it really felt like the Magpies were destined to spend their way into the elite, finding themselves prominently featured in the football betting to win every trophy available. 

But now? Now there are only financial caveats to cling to, ones that afford them the opportunity to recruit, if sensibly. 

Because at least their Champions League revenue from their participation this season is not included in the loss mentioned above, nor sponsorship deals with Sela and Adidas, and these will offer up some wriggle-room for new signings this summer. 

It should be noted too that a £144.1m loss over the last two seasons includes investment made in their academy and women’s team. Such numbers are exempt from PSR considerations. 

Yet even when these pluses are accepted we come back to the original point, back to the start of this very article.

Newcastle are worth more than the other ten richest clubs in the world combined. They have kept faith with their manager, duly rewarded for this with progress made in the league and beyond. They have spent wisely, improving their squad while not corrupting the transfer market by paying record fees. 

They have gone from a failing club in disarray to a success story in the space of three years. Yet this January they were unable to bring in a much-needed midfielder on loan. And this summer they will likely have to balance their books.

Who can possibly argue that this is right or fair?

*Credit for all of the photos in this article belongs to Alamy*

Stephen Tudor is a freelance football writer and sports enthusiast who only knows slightly less about the beautiful game than you do.

A contributor to FourFourTwo and Forbes, he is a Manchester City fan who was taken to Maine Road as a child because his grandad predicted they would one day be good.