The other black and white takeover shows that Toon are overpriced

By Lee Ryder on Jul 22, 09 02:57 PM

When oil rich Arabs start heading to Notts County instead of Newcastle to do business in English football you just know that St James's Park is beginning to look like a "no go" area for any potential investors.

Perhaps you can't blame Abdullah Bin Saeed Al Thani for choosing the other Magpies.

After all with no emotional connection to Newcastle from a business point of view there is less debt, less turmoil, a knockdown price and potentially Notts could well be playing in the same division as United next year - if the threat of a mass exodus of players becomes a reality that is.

It's understood that that while no price tag has been revealed at Meadow Lane, the overall debt of the basement Football League club was around £1million - that's roughly around two months wages for Michael Owen in the last two months of the season, when you throw in his bonuses.

We're talking different universes when it comes to money here.

With Munto Finance the actual saviours of Notts County, Dubai businessman Bin Saeed Al Thani comes in with £1.5billion burning a hold in his pocket and has delivered Sven Goran Eriksson for starters as director of football - hardly Joe Kinnear or Dennis Wise is it?

Even if the Arab tycoon could have afforded Newcastle United, why pay over the odds at £100million for it?

Especially when, if you have a plan and the tycoon seems to have one, you can get another club with potential for a fraction of the price.

In comparison not only is £100million the asking price at United steep compared to other clubs, but whoever comes in will have to tackle a £45million overdraft and then agree to take on the astronomical wage bill next season should certain players not be moved on, and it remains unclear if the £100million loan that Ashley pumped into United needs to be repaid.

For example, Fabricio Coloccini has five years left on his current contract and picks up over £70,000 a week while some Championship players are on less than a bag a sand.

Then with Dennis Wise still picking up £30,000 a week and remaining on the payroll plus a potential payout for Kevin Keegan later this year at £9million, there are other major factors to take into consideration.

Is it any wonder there have been such a shortage of takers so far?

Is Keith Harris and his team at Seymour Pierce just hapless?

Or has he been handed mission impossible by Mike Ashley to get rid of the club for such a big price?

This isn't sympathy for the devil as regular readers of this blog can easily look back and write a dissertation on the criticism of Ashley and the current regime if they wanted to.

But in the interest of fairness and balance, have the much maligned Ashley and managing director Derek Llambias been sold down the river and misguided again?

This time by somebody who appears to think that they can offload the disaster on their hands - and for the best part of £300million with all things above considered.

They were misguided when they were convinced that Dennis Wise and Tony Jimenez had a unique plan to bring in top-notch youngsters for peanuts and that the pair's ideas could change football.

They were misguided when they backed Wise over Kevin Keegan, a move which sparked a public outcry on Tyneside.

They were misguided when they appointed Joe Kinnear then Chris Hughton and took too long to compromise when bringing in Alan Shearer with eight games left - and then leave him in the cold just when they needed a natural leader the most.

Their knowledge of football leaves a lot to be desired on this evidence.

But don't let me hear you say there isn't a plan - that would be incorrect.

There is a plan, it just isn't a very good one or doesn't seem one.

That plan is that should United not be able to sell the club for the asking price, then they will attempt to weather the storm at St James's...

In the eyes of Chris Hughton, he would love to keep the squad he's got.

Starting the season with that squad and getting off the season to a great start and gathering momentum with our loyal fans coming back in numbers is the gamble that Ashley and Llambias seem prepared to take.

It's a huge gamble.

Life in the Championship is tough, the sunshine of Crystal Palace away in August (which won't be a cakewalk anyway) will soon be replaced by the whistling winds and cold mud of Scunthorpe away in October.

And like last night showed, when Huddersfield were prepared to put it up Newcastle United, like they did with Habib Beye and Coloccini, they hated it, they flipped and in the world of the Coca-Cola Football League (with refs desperate to make a name for themselves) they will be sent off and made an example of.

If I'm wrong and Chris Hughton does start the season well and leads us to promotion, then feel free to throw this back in my face.

But if I'm right, and the plan B that seems to be brewing on Barrack Road is attempted, the Magpies v Magpies game next season could well be a reality.



Matt said:

Would you rather have Shearer or Sven as manager, Lee?

Stardust said:

Why do you choose to omit the cost of building a 52k stadium from your article? It would take around 200m in todays market.

As with the whole of this very poor piece you choose to make grandiose statements with no thought or evidence - very shoddy journalism - may I ask Lee did you learn your trade from Mr Oliver?

Ironically one of the only writers to have any credibility amongst the masses is George Caulkin of the Times. You have an opportunity to make the point of reference for fans yet you shoot and miss at the moment Lee - just like Mr Oliver. Remember not all fans have the inability to see the wood for the trees, write for those and your credibility will rise not cont plummet.

Ryder's reply: Is that the same Times that rewrites Chronicle content quite often?

dale shotton said:

Im sorry but i am getting very tired of these negative repetative articles that keep going round and round. How about trying to be positive for a change, there is absolutely nothing me or anybody, other than the newcastle heirachy that can fix this mess so what is the point of moaning and groaning about it. I am just as annoyed and upset as the next man, but life is too short to let this situation get on top of us. OK we are going to be supporting a championship outfit this season and maybe even next, but if we keep going on and on about the plight and threaten to boycott games and stop supporting our team. then are we not just as much to blame!!!! its us who supply the money through tickets, programmes, shirts, souveneirs, calenders, stationary, pies, burgers, sky tv subscriptions. So if we all walk away from that where is the money going to come from that will send us back up??? so far we have had an ok pre season, i know we havent signed anyone yet but come on we are hardly going to sign anyone with the WOW factor are we, lets just get behind our team and support them like we are supposed to!!!!

Jackie W said:

This Cockney mafia has had an influence on you to Lee? ..."Bag of Sand" Give yourself a shake ...Jackie W

little Davey said:

I'd rather have a sheik!!!

Teddy Kane said:

Where on earth were you when the rest of us were complaining throughout the season?

Kev said:

WHO CARES! Its about time the chronicle supported its OWN / EX customers and tell us what the hell ashley is doing to sort out this mess he's put us in, the chronicle needs a back bone NOW, we are your customers afterall! tell ashley like it is we want him OUT he's killing our club,this article is an insult to all toon supporters come on LEE ASK THE QUESTIONS WE WANT ANSWERED (notts county?? what) Liaraminarse said we had at least two 100m bids ask what is going on and why the hold up they've bid 100m and gone through the books so why the hold up who are they what are there plans why no manager, we dont care about notts county,for gods sake man ASK THE REAL QUESTIONS WE WANT ANSWERS

gordon said:

the guy is clueless its taken 3 months for the above article to sink in.

kieran said:

If the players are on these long term lucrative contracts, then i say sod it don't let them leave. No-one else is barmy enough to pay them that much and if Ashley's still here he can carry on paying them. They were happy to take our money before so if they want to move on they'll have to show their class and get us back at the first attempt. If they refuse to play then we should be allowed to release them without carrying on paying them if there's any justice in the world.

Lee said:

Reasonable article Lee, just a bit late. You seem to be re-writing history - regular readers of your blog know that your criticism of the club was minimal until about a month ago. I understand the reasons for this, ie not biting the hand that feeds you, though at the moment they're not even chucking out crumbs! Bet you can't wait for the season to start - at least then there'll be games to write about!

nick said:

what a lot of folk dont realise is that these sales take time, look how long the portsmouth thing took to go through.#
No one is allowed to comment on the deals so we wont know anything until a deal is struck.
Ashley certainly wont be in a huury , he will want the best deal for his incompetent self and his cronies.
( how llambias hasnt been clumped is beyond me).

Steve said:

Agree with Kev above.

Instead of pandering to Llambias like a lapdog waiting for a biscuit, why don't you do what you should do and start a campaign to rid the city and club of these fools??

Oh forgot, that would require backbone, something sadly lacking in Thomson House

Ryder's reply: Any journo waiting for a biscuit would have died of starvation by now given that the MD no longer wishes to be quoted about the sale of the club which has been handed over to Mike Ashley's PR people.
We've worked closely with NUSC re campaigns and have an excellent relationship with The Mag, and Players Inc to make sure that the fans are far from ignored.
We also started the "Give Him The Job" campaign for Alan Shearer which has sadly been ignored so far by the powers that be at SJP.

djc said:

Lee, it appears that you have lost the support of the masses in relation to your recent articles, understandably it's difficult to write vitriolic articles without leaving yourself open to claims for libel.However in all honesty recent articles have had virtually no relevance to what'sa ctually going on at SJP . No fresh news so I'll write my own opinion appears to be the order of the day, and while we're all entitled to our opinion surely it is your role to fill the back pages or even the front with the results of good hardworking INVESTIGATIVE Journalism . It needs better efforts than what has been seen in recvent articles. I agree with previous comment regarding making these individuals stay and play football. They signed contracts and if the deals are not good for NUFC then they should be told " You signed a contract you honour it . If they don't want to play , hold their registration and pay . It's about time somebody somewhere made a stand and let some of these overpaid prima donnas ( and I mean not only toon players but throughout the whole game ) that actually they're not going to ruin the game and dictate what happens . It should be spelt out to them that there are people out in the real world on the breadline and that they should appreciate the lifestyle they have.
Whatever the case , Lee your articles have to have more depth and knowledge than is currently being displayed

Ryder's reply: Your argument breaks down after the first line because this is not a newspaper article, it is an opinion piece on a blog which has been written on Tyneside.
Maybe you should investigate our articles this week on which explain that the sale has reached stalemate at this stage (Thursday 23 July)
Unfortunately we can't invent the story that you want to hear and at the moment the story is that the club won't budge on the asking price and we are heading for the start of the new season under the current regime.

Tardonicus said:


Good column. We AS FANS have to think strategically as well around here these days. We know that there's a season to play and fixtures in less than a month. We know matches will be played. We know who is currently signed and coaching. Beyond that, it's a guessing game. This IS business, not a democracy, and no one has to tell us squat. Any fan who thinks NUFC is worth much more than the stadium+operating income, less debts is a fool. NUFC may not be saleable at any price right now, except a fire sale.

The Arab sheik's move at Notts is brilliant - buy a League Two club, bring in Sven-Goran and throw an extra MILLION (measly, in football terms) on top of wages and you're practically guaranteed League One status next year. Do the same - heck, make it 5 million above average wages - and you're in the Championship in two seasons. Who would bet against this happening? Buy now - in two years a Championship club with no debt and wages entirely under control. It's beautiful scheming and I admire the move. It is ironic that the saviour-type owner we were hoping for chose the "other" Magpies.

You may be right that Ashley has no other choice than to gamble that with the players he has signed he can return NUFC to the Premiership on the first try and make more in equity gain than he loses in wages. It's completely reasonable thinking. Then he can sell. Remember the "fancy a wager" line from Jan? I think he's going for the gamble again now. He's got nothing to lose and a back to the wall.

Only problem is that, as a fan, anything having to do with Mike Ashley is intolerable. Until 10 days ago we didn't have to think about this scenario. He was selling. If Ashley fails in getting the bounce back up, it's all over... for Ashley certainly... for NUFC I fear to imagine the consequebces.

rob said:

An excellent article by Lee. It sums up the take over position exactly, aorund 300M needed to aquire club and cover the debts. Unfortunately no one will buy at this price as in one or two years they could probably pick it up for 200M. I have looked at ashley and how he works for 2 years now. He is exceedingley stubborn, he will not budge on his price unless advised to by his brokers. He will continue his non communication with the fans or press, he will not accept shearers advise to restructure the club and interestingley of all he will not let the players leave, he will infact punish them for letting him down by forcing them to play in the championship, if they strike they wont get paid simple as that, he will love that and play reserves or juniors. He is also in effect punishing the fans for turning on him. Interesting chap all in all.

blobroberts said:

This column gets funnier every week! The Ryder man gets a bit of flack, and can't take it. As soon as an opinion other than his own appears, he is on to it in a flash, posting a prickly reply.. then gets his mates to write what a nice column it is!
The tone changes a month ago because, I assume, Llambias cut off contact. Easier to put the boot in then....?
Ryder's Reply: ........!

Ryder's reply: Made even more entertaining by keyboard warriors like you!
Thanks for your contributions though, sorry if that sounded too prickly for you.

Lee said:

As the new season ever nears, the following course of action, in my opinion, would be the best approach:
1)Take the club off the market
2)Install Shearer (I'd still prefer Coppell, but let's give Alan his shot, once and for all)
3)Clear out virtually the entire first team
4)Buy in proven players at Championship level
5)Hope we get off to a flyer and are in the top six at Xmas
6)Then look to sell the club in January, as we'll be a more attractive proposition if buyers can see the Premiership is a reality again.
Alternatively, Ashley can sit tight, watch us drop down another division, and then try and sell the club for about a quarter of what he's asking for now!


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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