GIVEN that their club has not won a major domestic trophy for 65 years, Newcastle United supporters have grown accustomed to having to wait. So it says everything that even their patience has been stretched to its limits by the interminable delay in the Premier League’s ratification process for Amanda Staveley’s proposed takeover of the club.

As the governing body’s owners and directors’ test stretches into its 12th week, the takeover procedure has long since entered the realms of farce. It is all very well being thorough. But as the days have ticked into weeks and the weeks have passed into months, it increasingly looks as though the Premier League’s leaders are terrified of making a decision. Like a child shutting their eyes, putting their fingers in their ears and praying that a difficult situation will simply disappear, those charged by English football’s leading league to assess the proposed takeover at St James’ appear to have decided that inaction is their best policy.

The reality, however, is that after almost three months of pondering, it is time for the Premier League to make a choice. We all know the competing arguments by now. Those of us with even a passing interest in Newcastle’s future ownership have long since familiarised ourselves with the labyrinthine geo-politics of the Middle East. We’ve read up on the human rights abuses meted out by the Saudi Arabian state and the British Government’s publicly-stated desire to encourage Saudi Arabian investment into this country.

We’ve trawled through the allegations of Saudi-sponsored broadcasting piracy and assessed the findings of this week’s report produced by the World Trade Organisation. We’ve watched from afar as Staveley has laid bare some of her business dealings in her ongoing High Court battle with Barclays and shaken our heads in bewilderment as stories have broken suggesting there are other bidders waiting in the wings, desperate to seal a £350m deal.

We know about all of that – and so do the Premier League. So, after three months of waiting, there is no longer an excuse not to act. There is already more than enough evidence for Premier League officials to act either way.

Ultimately, it comes down to a simple choice. If the Premier League want to block Staveley’s bid, they can. This week’s WTO report did not level specific accusations against individual members of the Saudi regime or refer to the state’s Public Investment Fund, which hopes to secure an 80 per cent stake in Newcastle. It accused the Saudi regime of failing to act against the illegal broadcasting of matches by beoutQ though, and Qatar’s Bein channel, a partner of the Premier League, claim to have evidence that the Saudi state has prevented it from taking action to prevent games being illegally streamed.

Throw in the concerns over Saudi Arabia’s human rights record, as voiced so eloquently in a letter by Hatice Cengiz, fiancée of murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi, and the Premier League should be able to construct a case enabling them to say no. Such a move would win them favour with Bein, one of their most important broadcasting partners, and might result in more lucrative overseas TV deals in the future. However, it would almost certainly result in legal action from the Staveley camp.

Alternatively, there is plenty of wriggle room for the Premier League to go the other way and give the deal the green light. This week’s WTO report levelled some broad accusations at the Saudi state, but by failing to identify individuals, it enabled the Premier League to claim it is not in a position to pin generalised criticisms of the Saudi rulers onto the specifically-named representatives who will be involved in running Newcastle.

Similarly, while it is impossible to defend Saudi Arabia’s human rights record, other Premier League clubs have passed into the hands of individuals or regimes with an extremely murky past and present. The Government regard the Saudis as desirable business partners, and only yesterday, when asked a direct question about a Saudi takeover of Newcastle on Sky News, foreign secretary Dominic Raab said: “This country is an open, outward-looking country, we’ve got investment from all around the world, it’s right that we welcome engagement, investment into football in this country.” If the Premier League want a justification to sanction the Saudi-backed bid, they have it right there.

Accepting Saudi investment would be unpopular within the broadcasting world, as well as with UEFA and FIFA, and would expose the Premier League to suggestions that they have ushered killers and tyrants into English boardrooms.

But the simple reality is that the league cannot have it both ways. They cannot keep their broadcasting partners happy and convey an image of enlightened respectability while also avoiding the threat of lengthy and hugely-expensive legal action.

In short, it is decision time. The current delay makes the Premier League look weak and indecisive and is grossly unfair on Newcastle, a club stuck in a vacuous state of limbo as Project Restart cranks into gear.

Until those in charge at St James’ Park at the moment know what is happening, a raft of key decisions will remain unmade. Players’ contracts are expiring at the end of this month, but long-term deals will not be offered until the ownership situation is clarified. Newcastle are the only club in the Premier League not to have refunded season-ticket holders for matches that are being staged behind-closed-doors. That is unlikely to change until the future is clear.

The whole thing is a mess, but the ball is in the Premier League’s court and their next move will be decisive. At the minute, though, indecision continues to rule.