An interview inside football's hottest oven

By Lee Ryder on Feb 10, 09 01:36 PM

The weather was freezing outside St James's Park as I looked up at the monster that is the Milburn Stand on Barrack Road - but I was about to climb on to the top shelf of football's hottest oven - the Newcastle United boardroom.

We always knew that some people would not like some of the answers but we did what we vowed to do.

We transported a dossier of questions made up by Chronicle and Journal readers who were all given the chance to ask Derek Llambias exactly what the situation was.

Mike Ashley was not there but his board including managing director Llambias, financial controller John Irving and operations director David Williamson are all present.

And they were all ready to answer your questions.

Key points needed to be discussed but the biggest point of all had to be the thing that kicked off this mess in the first place.

First and foremost, why Kevin Keegan has gone, the board explain that because of legal reasons they can't go into it Keegangate at this moment in time.

Well the truth is, had they never appointed Dennis Wise in the first place there's a chance that this whole mess wouldn't have happened anyway!

But Wise is here to stay for now and that he is working well enough with Joe Kinnear according to the MD.

Many might question that statement from Llambias but to coin a phrase used several times by the Toon supremo: "That's where we are at the moment."

So with Wise staying, a lot of fans want to know where we are going and how and when we'll get there.

In the interests of fairness it should be pointed out that the only questions that Llambias did not answer were those that had legal implications with the KK court date to come.

Then came the five year plan that they hope will see "Newcastle challenging for everything in five years time."

Once again for many the jury will be out.

Staying up is obviously all that is left to play for this season.

But as debts are cleared from the previous regime, with Newcastle still paying for players signed by Glenn Roeder and having just paid off debts from players signed under Graeme Souness, it's fair to say that United are still very much rebuilding - or at least that is the message that is coming out of the four walls of St James's.

Those walls have been knocked down and are being rebuilt by Ashley and Co and it's clear they want a fresh start - only the fans will decide whether or not they are allowed to have one.

Apologies for the lack of communication during Keegangate were genuine enough and with money being reinvested at youth level, which was also in somewhat of a mess before Ashley came in according to the board, Newcastle fans could have great things to look forward to in the future.

But the rest will unfold over the next couple days.

Without a doubt we'll get stick for this - you can't please everybody that is impossible in any walk of life.

But for some the answers to the questions posed are there.

Already some have plunged the knife into the Journal and Chronicle - the only newspapers that have managed to get an interview with the club during this difficult time.

That is their choice - but what has been printed is the exact response from Llambias and what has been asked were all from the 800 questions which were sifted through and finalised by the Chronicle and Journal Sports Desks and the Chronicle and Journal editors long before the meeting took place.

Over the next few days fans will make their own conclusions on the situation.



Amy said:

He did not exactly answer the question about what Dennis Wise actually does. Can anyone define what a "Director of Football" means at NUFC? There is no clear job description at any club, and it usually depends on the relationship between manager and DoF. At NUFC is it a hyped-up chief scout or is Wise actually the one who has final say on transfers? Or has the role changed since Keegan left. This is the biggest question many fans want to know, but it has not been answered.

Otherwise it was not a bad interview so far, and although I do not really like Llambias and wish that Mort was still chairman at least he has done something to communicate with the fans, but the proof of the pudding will be in the eating as they say, and when does the 5 year plan begin? Does it begin again now?

Tad Caster said:

If he said he could sell you the Tyne Bridge on the cheap, some people here would be gullible enough to buy it.

Should we pleased someone has spoken out after... how long?

Gary Hall said:

Come off it Lee, this is a gross dereliction of duty as both a journalist and a Newcastle United supporter. Most of Mr. Llambias' responses were absolutely crying out for further probing and you could have gone infinitely further in trying to find out what their plans really are.

Unless something miraculous happens in the next three parts this has been a monumental failure to grasp an elusive opportunity to elucidate on the plans of this suspect hierarchy.


Daz said:

I agree whole heartedly with the above poster. After 6 months of turmoil and non-communication from those tasked with defining the direction and future of this club, simply regurgitating their answers without delving deeper is akin to doing half a job. Surely as journalists it is your role to actively probe and question. Statements like "we may have made mistakes" and "we have made mistake but will learn from them" surely deserve more focus and digging. What do you consider to be the mistakes and what have you learned from them. Its a really really poor result for what has been over hyped.

Big Si said:

Good job on getting the interview Lee. His answers don't impress me one little bit, This 5 year plan, he's been here 2 years so have we only got 3 to go then ? The first year we flirted with relegation, this year we are well and truly staring it in the face, next year ......

We aren't a selling club we are a buying club ... hahahahahahahahahahahahaha never laughed so much in my life man! Ashley just go and take your puppets with you you idiot.

LoonyToon said:

I agree with the previous comments. Very generic answers. I've read it over and I still don't feel any further forward.

“We aren’t a selling club, we’re a buying club.

Aye right. Why are we buying lots of cheap youngsters and not spending on the first team? We are in profit this transfer window by 8 million (apparently). The assets are being stripped and the wages are getting lower. It's a business. When these youngster come through they will be sold for profit. Simple as that. If we are lucky enough to still be in the premiere league in 5 years time we will be told they have 2,3,5 year plan (take your pick). The 2,3,5 year plan is an old technique to pacify the masses. Just like every government promises to fix everything in the next 4 years. To be honest I don't expect anything to change. I expect us to be financially sound in 5 years time but that's it.

“There is £8m there and it will be spent in the summer."

Wow thank you so much. We should be grateful. I hope Mike also gives the 20 million a season he promised. I doubt it if past experience is anything to go by. Until I see it with my own eyes I don't believe it. In my view we will have that 8 million plus whatever we get for selling our players. The team will be self sufficient and the business will be profitable. Yes we will be solid but not on the pitch which at the end of the day is what the supporters/customers are paying for. If only we were covered by statutory rights :)

You never know though. I'm open and hoping.


LoonyToon said:

Expect lots of promises for the summer. Especially around the time of season ticket renewals.

We've seen it all before. Actions speak louder than words.

Bobbytee said:

A five year plan - very good. Wasn't it Jo Stalin who coined the five year plan!!!
Presumably Milner and Given were not part of this "fyp" - and donkeys like Nacho, Nolan, Lowenbrau and Taylor are. What wonderful foresite.
And JFK - now its all clear - JFK is a great investment for a five year plan - its all making sense now!!!!!
Little dennis too - surely he doesnt even know what he is doing in five days time let alone devise a strategic five year plan.
This interview was another time buying exerise.
Can anyone see a squad architected by little Dennis (footballing genius!!!!) managed by JFK to be challenging for the top six in five years time.
Tell you what - come and play The Raby sunday team in five years time - if things are going the way I see them - then the Raby will win.
I think the Chron missed an opportunnity to grill further. thats a shame too.

ClivetheMag said:

The 5 year plan involves buying on the cheap,selling our best players, paying second rate wages and pocketing the change. In other words running the club like many others who slip between the Premiership and Championship and back again. Remember if the likes of Wigan, Birmingham, Bolton and Middlesbrough to mention but a few can survive like this then a club which can consistently acheive gates of 30,000+ (which we would even in those circumstances) will make a very tidy profit for a minmum of investment.

Likening us to Villa is a joke. This season they have signed one of our best young players, resisted a predatory move from Liverpool to sign their best player. Signed England's current centre forward and will round it off by signing England's current top scorer in the summer.

Mr Lambias should cast his eye round the sports and city pages more often. He may then learn that most if not all transfer deals involve some payment staging. He would also learn that most if not all sponsorship deals are front end loaded. The reason the previous regime could cut such deals was because they had a guaranteed 52,000 sell out every week coupled with the 2nd/3rd/4th largest selling brand in the Premiership.

"We've made mistakes cheifly in not communicating our policies well enough" is an excuse trundled out by politicians facing an election defeat.

Ashley and his team know that defeat is coming in the shape of a shortfall in season ticket renewals estimated at 40% and a new kit launch in the close season projected to acheive less than 20% of its sales target.

That is why they have come out of the woodwork every bit as cynical as the McKeag/Seymour boards of the past. Be warned

P.S. Lee I thought you met up with Mike's top team so where the hell was Wise?

vicarinatutu said:

Lee, having read the article I think that your comments are very defensive. It was a great opportunity having secured the commitment from NUFC to answer questions from fans. If part of the deal was that you as a journalist were not permitted to probe the initial answers then that's fine but tell us. If you did have the freedom to probe further; what happened? Surely, if further questions jumped out to me straight away, you must have been chomping at the bit.
His answers read like a poor piece of corporate PR

Steve said:


I thought it was a good interview so I wouldn't be too worried what people think. Some people will never be happy, probably the same ones who moan tht we spend nothing while failing to acknowledge the poor state of the clubs finances.

Personally, I'd hate to think where this club would be now if Sir John hasn't tricked Ashley into a quick purchase. If anybody thinks that the previous regime was in a position to fund the club then think again.

The current situation would have been a lot worse if we were carrying and trying to re-finance the amount of debt that Ashley inherited but I'm sure that will go straight over the heads of some people who think we live in a perfect world.

I hope the local media remain objective about the club while distancing themselves from the non-representative pressure group that is NUSC.

Faria said:

Mike Ashley, show bona fides, get rid of Dennis Wise and appoint a creditable manager. Then and only then will you be believed.

Gallowgatecorner said:

The pathetic question about what role Tony Jiminez played showed what a journalistic farce this exercise really was

Tad Caster said:

The Chronic should be praised for coming out as obviously critical of Ashley's regime in recent weeks. After all, it has freebies and contacts at stake. However, its response has been LATE and this allowing this PR exercise to go unchallenged makes me wonder how sincere it is. People will always buy the Chronic for the footie news, but I think it's been a bigger loser in the credibility stakes since Ashley took over.

duncan said:

"Already some have plunged the knife into the Journal and Chronicle - the only newspapers that have managed to get an interview with the club during this difficult time.

That is their choice - but what has been printed is the exact response from Llambias and what has been asked were all from the 800 questions which were sifted through and finalised by the Chronicle and Journal Sports Desks and the Chronicle and Journal editors long before the meeting took place."

You should be ashamed to call yourself a journalist and your editors should hang their heads if they were the best questions you could pick from 800. JOKE PAPER JOKE JOURNALISTS!

Don Dickson said:

Just sometimes as Newcastle fans we like to shoot are selves in the foot by Gobbing off that all would be better with such and such or him from the local park, but the truth of the matter is would we put £200 million pounds of our own money into this football club, the answer to that is probably not but we do our bit buying season tickets,shirts,scarfs and programs and expect good football class players and to go home every other week happy and content,well welcome to the real world i have supported the toon through thick and thin since the age of 7 and now being in my 47th year you people out their seem to think we are hard done by because for the first time someone owns the club who wants to not just make money but also wants to build a structure where we have a youth system that works we have a pay structure that makes sense so that the club can work on an Even playing field, look at aston villa, doug ellis hated by most of his own fans because he would not put the club into dept just to appease the fans with fancy footballers on sky high wages the problem we have always had and will always have is we expect because we are the best fans in the country we have a right to drive people out of there jobs because we don't like the way they conduct there business well for once lets prove that we are the best fans and let ashley and his mob run the club the way the want with there 5 year plan, if you look at it logically so far the signs are there that we might at last be getting someone who is prepared to build from the bottom up ie: youth,with some older experience alongside to fetch them on,this is something that clubs like Arsenal,Man Und learned along time ago it was painful for there fans then and is painful now for us but just look back over the last 15 years and see if its paid off,most of our fans today think we are being hard done too by the board but we should also remember the days of lord westwood and co,as well as sir john hall who tried to put us on the map and succeeded only to find out that unless you have billions and billions like chelsea then the only way to compete is to build the club properly. Do you remember Swansea,Leeds united, no because we think it cant happen to use well it has keegan should never have been asked back has Ashley made mistakes yes huge ones will he make more probably but if you look at his track record he learns well and corrects them this is what allowed him luxury of buying our club and getting rid of the dept and the dead wood so i ask why do you go to watch the toon week in week out is to moan at everything or is it to try and share a dream,because in my book its to shout on the 11 players in a black and white strip and try to share the dream of someone who was willing to put his money were his mouth was and dare to do it his way.lets all pull in the same direction for once, long live the toon

Steve said:

A missed has long been my opinion that the Journal and Chronicle run soft articles and interviews to pander to the club in the hope of "exclusives".

As a journalist there was so much of what was said by Llambias begging to be explored and scrutinised which you failed to do.

I feel Llambias got more benefit from this interview than you or the readers.


mark said:

It is obvious that the present lot believe geordies are thickies who can be fooled not some of the time but all the time. BANKRUPT THE PRATS, DO NOT BUY THEIR TICKETS OR THEIR MERCHANDISE. The next event will be venables coming to join cuddly wise. I had to laugh at the figure of £8 million available next summer. That should have been spent last month.

mm said:


londontoon said:

hmmm its hard to disagree with the above. Wise is a thorn in their side not just ours. What is the five yr plan? (is MA on a weight lose plan?) they obviously didn't have one when they come in?! is there anyone from Newcastle working at SJP? is anyone ever seen coming and going from SJP? where did the umpa lumpa come from? who is th real mikey wonka?
Its aslo true this man was let off the hook massively having said that they've had a couple of yrs to come up with the answers and he still struggled.!

Dave B said:

So now they want Newcastle to be like an Aston Villa instead of an Arsenal.

Here's a plan for you. Why don't you let Newcastle become a Newcastle and realise the massive inherent potential the club and the area has. No - far less effort to align yourselves with whatever club has had decent results in the last month or so.

Muppets follow, innovators lead.

dessa said:

same old same old as far as I can see.Promises promises, that's all you get from N.U.F.C ANOTHER 5 year plan,yeah right,and in 5 years when we're STILL waiting and D Wise is just a memory,and the NEW Chairman saying he has a 5 year plan etc. Seeing N.U.F.C. back at the top is all Geordie's dream of,but under this regime that's all it'll ever be.

Lee Ryder Author Profile Pagesaid:

Of course we probed - if you think that these were the first and answers to the questions asked then you are very much mistaken.

dessa said:

mistaken is the wrong word Lee,disillusioned is more like it.

Billy the fish said:


HenryA said:

Most of the comments so far have been pretty well structured and worded to demonstrate how we are all feeling as a nation.
I don't believe that mike Ashley and Derek Llambia are good politicians but they are probably good business men. I don't believe that they will give us what we want but will give us what they think the club needs. The other key name here is Wise and he is probably as efective as any of us might be but he'll be a bit more expensive.
This current regime need some PR help, other than that they are no different to those who have gone before, any of them.
Those guys have come from the part of the country and expected to find a passionless business which could be run without emotion and complication. What they found was a business with 52,000 passionate share holders. That has taken them some time to come to terms with.
Now they know this is not a sleepy little town on the borders but a pressure cooker waiting for the lid to blow off. Let them show us what they can do now that the dust has settled on the Keegan affair. One more chance, surely they can be given one more?
Unity for the sake of our premiership status, its a small price to pay.
Howay the Toon!

mr t said:

i can see why lambias kept his mouth shut for so long now!
everytime he opens it rubbish and lies spew out.
the one major thing they can do to start the 5 year plan (what garbage) is rid mr.wise.
whats the betting another failed tottenham connection comes in as manager.
ashleys appointment of kinnear had to be the most ridiculous appointment in premiership history...and its nearly killed kinnear.
at least we can look forward to playing leeds and millwall soon with these lot infesting the club.
dennis will like that though!
i also think it says a lot about wise that he doesnt resign.
who would taking our easy money though.
10 million for Collocini dennis?
see xisco was worth losing KK and everyone else who has a soul at SJP for dennis.
coxy got out pretty sharpish when he saw how this regime was operating theres foresight for you,who cam blame shay for leaving?
not a selling club haha
taxi for lambias.

ronnie lambert said:

Bet you wish you hadn't bothered now Lee, phew! I can understand the frustration and anger of many of the bloggers here, but what they don't seem to realise is that the job of local press is to report local events, not attack people, like the scurrilous 'redtop gutter press' we've all learned to hate up here. We provided the questions, you handed them on and Llambias gave answers. Not very satisfying for us all, but what else can you do? We've just bought 3 good premiership-proven players who've immediately slotted comfortably into the team and dressing room, and there is a slight air of relief among fans that I know. Okay, what Ashley and co did as 'totally naive' operators of a massive football club caused a lot of grief to us all. He's admitted that and apologised. He's now promised publicly, in writing, that he intends to buy in summer and try to make this club what we all want. That, only time will tell. So what now toon army? We can all only resolve to do what's in our own hearts and minds. Whether to stay angry and boycott matches, not renew season tickets and go on pointless demonstrations or what? Because now that he's made his official statement, the big demo next week is of no value. What can we shout for, the M.D.'s resignation, sell the club, Wise out? That's not going to happenn now. He's resigned himself to staying because of the economic climate, and try again from square one. We've forced this out of him at least and I think he's got no other option but to get stuck into the job proper. So it's up to each supporter to either cancel direct debits, cancel renewals, boycott next season, don't buy pies, beer and programs anymore ( which I have stuck to until now ), or give him until summer and see what he comes up with. Don't worry about renewing on the final date, just wait 'til you see if what he promised about transfers materializes. If it does, then rush to the ticket office, I doubt they'll be sold out anyway. If this is a clever piece of gamesmanship to buy time, then you've got to hand it to the guy that he's a damned good chess player. He has just negated the NUSC protest gathering for the Everton game. Me, I choose to give him his LAST benefit of doubt because I don't think he's got any option financially but to make this business work. It's the only business these days that has a guaranteed good cash-flow, 52,000 paying customers, IF THE SIDE ARE WORTH PAYING TO SEE!

Toongaz said:

Toongaz - is off to give birth to a family of mackems on the bog:11 February 2009 13:11
Our owner is a greedy man,
who doesnt like to spend.
Chairman is a spineless get,
who drives us roond the bent.
Manager hasnt got a clue,
he had a heart attack.
Transfer guru Dennis Wise,
is useless, thats a FACT.
Owens injured, Xiscos crap,
Collicini cant play the offside trap.
Given out, Nolan in,
the squads lookin rather thin.
It Could have been worse ......
I could have been born a Mackem.

kenni scotland said:

I have beenin business and senior management for nearly 35 years, i reconise assett strippers as i was involved in many takeovers, believe me these are assett strippers of the highest order.

The good news is they are panicking hence the 5year plan( which is a standard quote).Without premier football and the backin of the fans season tickets their plan will not work.

With my supporters cap on i think we should support the team at the matches PL football is vital and when seasonticket renewals are due then boycott

Tad Caster said:

"Those guys have come from the part of the country and expected to find a passionless business which could be run without emotion and complication."

Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight, but you just said they were good businessmen, Virginia... Doesn't a good businessman know what he's taking on?

I love the naivety of some of the posts here...

I see Fat Fred and Thuggie Hall made £146 million from NUFC. Not bad work if you can get it.

ian said:

Don Dickson, you mut have a hide like a rhino to have followed this lot for 40 years and still come out with this mindless optimism.If you are happy to sit on your own and shout for the 11 on the pitch then I don't see how you can preach here about loving the club.The man is a billionaire for god's sake and you defend his penny pinching ways while we plummet towards the oblivion that is the Championship. No club can survive with a shocking first team while waiting for the youth to get better. Open your eyes to the fact that they only want these young players so they can make a profit in a couple of years while we the fans don't get to see the rewards and will have to spend our time watching cheap bargains and cast offs try to dig us out of a hole at the likes of Carlisle & Cheltenham for instance. Do you think young players are going to stay with us long term like they do at Man U or Arsenal who also spend big when needed? This whole interview thing is disgraceful and makes me more determined to keep pressuring this cancerous regime to leave. If a woman conned you out of your cash, then got rid of your best mate because he didn't like her little friend,constantly told you she would make things better while constantly doing things to make you feel worse,you wouldn't keep going back to see her every week. So why be an apologist for this scum? The Chronicle and Journal should hope this lot should go back to keeping their mouths shut (like a good woman)because the gullible have been taken in by the usual rubbish and we are no further forward in ridding the club of the real deadwood. By the way Steve,the NUSC don't speak for me either but at least they are trying to do something to save our club, unlike some of the pathetic specimens on here who would be better off going on the Sky Sports forum to talk about what sandwiches they are taking to the next 'soccer' match.Boycott is the only way to make this fat fool sell up for a decent price. I'm also confident a new owner wouldn't then try to take in the afflicted by crying about how their complete ineptitude to carry out the most basic of business practices means they carry over their 5 year plan from season to season.

ClivetheMag said:

Don Dickson - Doug Ellis has left Aston Villa! His penny pinching ways had a similar effect on them as Ashleys has had on us ask any Villa supporter.

What has changed at Villa is that Ellis is now gone and the club is owned by a guy called Randy Lerner who for the last couple of seasons has

1 Backed O'Neill in the transfer market to sign a classic blend of youth and experience
Milner, Friedl, Heskey,Young

2 Refused to sell their best players i.e. Gareth Barry, Abonglahor,

3 Regularly communicated and demonstrated his long term commitment to the club

I fail to see any similarity with Ashleys actions and these above

Lambias filled copy yesterday condemning "Hire Purchase" transfers then lets it slip today that HIS NUFC are awaiting a stage payment for James Milner from those guiding lights of football prudence Aston Villa. His answers were full of more contradictions and reeked of the patronising attitude taken by the board and the London Press.

Kenni Scotland is right - these guys are prize asset strippers and God help us when their number crunching tells them they can still make a small profit even in the Championship which it surely will if the majority of us continue to be fooled by this claptrap

MARK said:

I for one after this season ends will not be going back/renueing my ticket at st.james until Dennis Wise is gone. fact.

Ron Grant said:

Daylight Robbery and the inaction or denial (it's all made up by the London press) by the local media over a period of months has, sadly, been a contributory factor, because you think some hyperbolic nonsense about Toon Ace Whoever on the back page is journalism while NUFC crumbles.


Hi Lee-The 5 year plan is what you do to look good,sound good,and persuade the masses that you know what you are doing -Can we purchase a copy of this 5 year business plan? It would be good to see if it actually exists- I am sure if it does we silly Geordies might just be clever enough to ask one or two questions regarding the wording and content. Have to say Lee -I am not impressed -Developing young talent we are not a selling club-what happened to Charlie,Milner -and now an outstanding youngster like Carrol is offered peanuts-do they think we are stupid-next season I forecast the smallest number of season tickets sold in our history. Actions speak louder than words.

londontoon said:

I agree they stuffed us on the KK front. then again did he really have to walk out?? yes they've brought in some rubbish but 1 or 2 of them have been good buys. KK let us down as much as MA. unless it comes out he was sacked i for one feel very let down by his actions..

It was also KK who let Milner go and Milner wanted to go, he has for a while he played there on loan and was about to sign until GR pulled him back because we were short. Milner had had enough the same as Shay. Zoggy has also wanted to go for the last 3 seasons.. we have been buying te wrong players for yrs now. northumberland st isn't the kings road!! GR aslo bought Duff who is playing well this season although it was a bad buy because we had zoggy for the left wing and we needed a central defender at the time. We cant just have a go at people cause they want to make money out of their buisnes or at players because they're on lotto wages..

sadly we need to replace JFK asap or we've had it.. good luck Joe, thanks for the help when nobody else would touch us..

Phil wood said:

The thing that needs to be found out is who's decision was it to bring in Xisco for 5.7 million. This is the act that started the whole mess. If it was Dennis Wise's decision then the following thing that needs to be asked is why did Dennis Wise state in his program notes that Kevin Keegan will have the final say on all transfers. I actually appreciate the youth set up and financial problems they have inherited and sympathise with this and appreciate the current regime trying to get things back on track. The simple fact is though that we have no hope of attracting a decent manager if Dennis Wise is making decisions on transfers.

Dave B said:

Londontoon - agree that we should all wish JFK a speedy recovery. Whatever the motivations he didn't duck the responsibility. However must strongly disagree with the Keegan comment - 'KK let us down as much as MA' - Haway man are you serious!!! If he stayed he would become a puppet of the MA regime - a true legend deserves better than that and he left with his dignity intact (in my eyes anyway). No other manager would have put up with the smoke and mirror antics of the current regime (even JFK was clearly thinking twice before his illness).

I look forward to the fact that unlike us average punters KK can engage a legal team to prove MA is a deceiver. KK will walk it in court so prepare yourselves for some dirty tactics from MA along the lines of 'KK takes £8m in damages straight from the transfer kitty'...or some such garbage. MA has many bridges still to build as far as I'm concerned and KK's halo remains untarnished.

donnyMags said:

800 questions?
sent in by readers/fans?
No-one at the Chron is going to take the Pulitzer proze here are they?
Come on son you dont need us to ask the questions. You ask them - and if this is too much for the back page journos - then hand it over to a features writer ir investigative journalists.
There is a story here - and the Chron/Journ have missed it.
We needed questions and follow up questions. Listen to the today program / PM / Question Time and learn your trade properly.
Unless of course this is the mouthpiece of MA and his regime, in which case - job well done.

Lee Ryder Author Profile Pagesaid:

The whole idea was for fans to have their questions answered by United - otherwise it wouldn't have been much of a fan Q and A session would it?

Gareth said:

Absolutely embarrassing journalism. Gary Hall has got it spot on - this is a new low even by Thomson House standards.

Hollie Furness said:

And that's saying something.

Teessidetoony said:

What the hell do you all expect? Read the questions the reporters put to them. Llambias answered them. If you don't like the asnwer (and there weren't many I liked) then fine. But to blame the journalists - particularly Thomson House where Ryder, Edwards, Gibbo and Farrington have CONSISTENTLY questioned this regime and forced them into actually communicating with the fans is - in the words of another former Thomson house man, wide of the mark.
Time and again some fans shoot the messenger when the real problem lies in the club's administration, management and yes the highly paid players on the pitch who have somehow seemed to have escaped criticism in all this.
Instead of sniping at the writers add your opinions

Hollie Furness said:

What I expected, sweetheart, were some probing questions by a seasoned reporter who was ready with a equally probing follow-up when he caught the faint aroma of BS.

As for the Chronic CONSISTENTLY questionning Ashley's regime, I seem to remember it being highly critical of journalists from outside of the region when they suggested Ashley was prepared to sell the club or when they hinted that all was not right between KK and his masters. In fact, with the exception of Malcolm Macdonald, until recently, it's been a cold day in hell when the Chronic's been deeply critical of the way the club's been run.


Lee - you were given an exclusive interview with NUFC's managing director. Gosh! How exciting is that??? I cannot believe that Reuters, CNN etc were not invited. Its easily explained - the only thing big about NUFC is the fan base. Ashley and his crew are a bunch of clowns. NUFC needs to attract a sensible new owner - someone like Randy Lerner at Aston Villa. NUFC given its resources etc has to be the most ineffectively managed club in the UK. We do not need an exclusive interview with the MD to know how the problems of NUFC can be resolved.

Monty Cristo said:

The interview seemed to re-enforce what was pointed out by Restless Native a while ago, this lot are making it up as they go along (soundbites and all).
They are running the club in a piecemeal fashion, doing just enough and only acting/speaking when they have to. This is because they still intend to sell but have realised it weakens their position if they openly advertise this. What's happening is a valet and a tart-up so everything looks in proper order to any potential buyer.
They say they hope to be challenging in five years time, can I suggest that's when we consider re-newing our season tickets.
Unless.... they're long gone before then.

Mike A said:

So what was the answer to the question "I’ve paid for my season ticket for three years after being sold the Keegan dream. Can I get a refund on the remaining two years?" (source journallive - full list of questions put to Llambias)?

Strangely I don't seem to be able to find that question referred to in any of Llambias' answers, was this another issue he "ducked"?

Martin said:

Do you agree you should have asked tougher questions and/or followed up your actual questions to push for better answers and not just generic statements, which is frankly what you got.

deleval daz said:

The questions are on the journal website if you look Martin, fans had long enough to send them in
its no good shooting the messenger
get real llambias might not have said what you wanted to hear and even though i dont agree with most of his comments with nobody else coming into to buy the club and put money where their mouth is, it looks like we have to see if their actions will live up to words
my take is if you go to the matches and i dont know how many people on here do, then go on match to match basis and if you dont like it dont go!


Lee Ryder

Lee Ryder - Proudly born and bred on Tyneside, the Chronicle's chief sports writer has followed the fortunes of the club over the last three decades as a Toon fan and football writer.

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