Newcastle may not be a Pompey but the San Siro seems a million miles away now

By Lee Ryder on May 10, 10 02:19 PM

Less than 10 years ago Newcastle United were a Champions League club with fans having every reason to feel good about the direction in which the black and whites were heading.

Now instead of having expecations they have been managed for us via a statement.

Milan, Rotterdam, Turin, Barcelona, Kiev or anywhere - Newcastle were up for the challenge on football's top table and better still the money was pouring in too for then chairman Freddy Shepherd.

Was there a plan back then?

Yes. Stay in the top four and compete.

However, the moment the money was withdrawn and chairman Shepherd decided that putting fingers in holes to keep the water in wasn't going to work, it quickly turned sour for United.

Glenn Roeder as manager was left to pick up the pieces and knew he had an almighty task on his hand to compete.

Looking back, he pulled off not just a miracle to finish seventh (where we've never been since) but to even finish in what proved to be an unacceptable mid-table position.

Even then, Newcastle spent £10million on Oba Martins and £5million in instalments on Damien Duff.

Bringing in free transfers like Antoine Sibierski and a loan player in Seppe Rossi sparked outrage but fast forward to 2010 and this - following last night's statement - appears to be one of our only hopes of surviving.

Roeder of course went, Big Sam came in and then Mike Ashley arrived.

Publicly declaring you aren't spending any money is brave even if the intention was supposed to be an act of honesty.

The rest of the statement, reads more like a business plan rather than anything that clicks in with football logic.

And in terms of communication, so often the achilles heel of the Ashley era, the question has to be what's new?

Football questions have been directed at Chris Hughton for the best part of the last 12 months anyway and before him the haphazard if entertaining Joe Kinnear.

Stating that the board (Derek Llambias, Lee Charnley and John Irving) will not answer question directly to the media has been the case for some time now for most people who work in the media now, and there appears to be no favourites in the Press for the current regime.

The five year plan in an interesting concept and one that has previously been dismissed by the current board.

But while it may be unclear and uncertain, there is a plan.

If the club is relying on youngsters in the next five years, then names like Vuckic, Inman, Airey, Folan, Alnwick and Adjei may all get their chance - which division, we don't know.

There are no guarantees when it comes to developing younger players.

For every Andy Carroll there's a Fabio Zamblera.

And for every Steven Taylor, there's a Phil Cave.

That's no disrespect to Cave or Zamblera, youth football works quite simply in that there is a limited window of opportunity to both perform and hope that if and when a chance does come up, you take it with both hands.

The lowdown is without bringing in the Rob Lees, Andy Coles, John Beresfords, Craig Bellamys, Kieron Dyers and Gary Speeds of the world, you can't compete with those around and claim to be giving it full throttle.

If you don't sign those players, your rivals will.

It's accepted that nobody wants to become another Portsmouth while Leeds have shown just how hard it is to make a full recovery if you slip down the division.

In six years we've gone from finishing fifth and out of the top three as being a failure to staying out of the bottom three and being success.

None of it really fits in with the type of football or approach in the game that Toon fans have became accustomed to and none of it knits in with football logic.

Yes, Arsenal and Chelsea are taking the road of youth team development.

But that's with teams that are either winning trophies already or challenging for them season in, season out.

It's a huge gamble for Newcastle but if the current crop of players show the same type of appetite for the challenge ahead of them as they did in the Championship, we might have a sniff of avoiding disaster.

Whatever way you look at it and rightly or wrongly, at least everybody knows where they stand now.



James H said:

I'm torn because though I can see the sense in the move (I don't doubt that this year has taken a huge financial toll) I can't help but be suspicious of anything Ashley says. Second by saying you won't pay anything it deflates the momentum of the club, suggests to rivals that they can easily outbid on players and makes it clear that we will be struggling to stay above the relegation zone this year.

There was no need to make it clear that we are not in the market. It just seems naive to the way football works.

Then again I'd prefer this to over ambitious suicidal spending on players that don't work out.

marshy said:

well at least we won't have to bother about checking teletext and the internet on the final day of the window when we will be hovering on or near the bottom of the league.5nufba

Stevie in Iraq said:

2 choices lads!!!!! We can twist, get bitter, shout abuse and protest at matches, or even stay away.....or......we can turn up in our thousands, sing, shout, cheer and will Chris Hughton and the team that got us promoted on to a respectable lower mid table position on our first season back.....First option isn't an option to my mind as it won't make the slightest difference to the stance taken here by the club, so lets just do what we do best and become the teams 12th man next season and inspire them to wins over the teams that we will be competing to stay ip against. Spending ridiculous money on so called 'star players' is what got us relegated as they were far more interested in lining their tailored suit pockets than digging out a win for the lads. Maybe a couple of decent free's and loan signings as cover/competition in key areas will keep the continutity and team spirit that the lads have shown all last season in droves. Actions speak louder than words and this group of players actually understand what it takes and means to pull on the Black n White shirt unlike your Owens, Viduka's, Martins etc. The way they have dug in for each other, stuck two fingers up at the detractors in the southern based media and press who wanted us to fail desperately and most of all, kept their dignity led by the fantastic Chris Hughton has been the most pleasing thing of all for me. There's obviously no more money to burn or invest at the minute after the what can only be described as 'massive' investment so far just to keep us in existance after Hall and shepherd ran away with tens of millions in their greedy pockets knowing fine well the club was in financial meltdown. Ashley's made some horrific PR disasters from virtually day one, but the time has come for all of us to accept what it is right now, that for the next few years we will be competeing with Bolton, Blackburn, Wigan, Fulham, Birmingham etc to stay in the league until we achieve a position of financial security again to allow larger investment for us to then start pushing towards European spots again. I beleive this group of players, however limited some may be, have displayed enough courage and commitment on and off the pitch this season to give me enough confidence in our chances to overhall most or if not all of those teams I've mentioned next season. Honesty, team spirit, hard graft and a united belief can see us through.......and that includes from the terraces. We are NEWCASTLE UNITED, which as far as I'm concerned means we all support wor team when times are tough even more so than when we were fighting for the Premiership title a few years back. In summary....accept the situation we are in now....get behind the team to keep their confidence and belief high....or twist, moan and whine and end up like Pompey.......HOWAY THE LADS.........Survive and finish 1 place above the Mackems next season, show the world we ARE the best fans in the world and support Chrissy Hughton and his proud group of players and show all the knockers what we are really about!

MagJ said:

Ashley is making a massive mistake, this season its a buyers market for any club that has money to spend, as every club right through the prem & Europe will be shedding players and good ones at that. This is exactly the time to spend big and place Newcastle firmly in the Top 8, the prem table doesnt lie and clubs are finishing in relation to the money they have and what they spend.

Again Ashley, i'll advised and making clear & obvious errors. - this would happen if someone like David Dein was Vice Chairman.

alex said:

Ashley doesnt learn does he? if dont spend money on strengthen the squad we have a releegation battle on our hands.... and if we go down again it will cost even more money.... u cant football club the size of newcastle on free transfers... Bournemouth maybe (no disrespect to bournemouth. what i dont understand is how are we still in debt? ashley cant blame this on players who were brought under the shepperd eira on big wages and big fees

Matt said:

Ashley gambled on buying a club without doing due diligence and lost. He gambled on appointing Keegan and lost. He gambled on appointing a clapped out manager with known health issues and lost. He gambled on staying in the Premier League while making a profit in the transfer market and lost. Post relegation he gambled on running the club at a huge operating loss with an untested manager.. and won! Now he appears to be gambling on staying in the Premier League without providing any funds to strengthen the squad. Are you feeling lucky, punk?

Matt said:

Ashley gambled on buying a club without doing due diligence and lost. He gambled on appointing Keegan and lost. He gambled on appointing a clapped out manager with known health issues and lost. He gambled on staying in the Premier League while making a profit in the transfer market and lost. Post relegation he gambled on running the club at a huge operating loss with an untested manager.. and won! Now he appears to be gambling on staying in the Premier League without providing any funds to strengthen the squad. Are you feeling lucky, punk?

Tad Caster said:

At the very least we need someone to teach the likes of the centre backs and - especially - Danny Simpson - how to tackle. At the very least we have to play with one central midfielder who has vision and who can distribute the ball with accuracy. At the very least we need soeone to tell Andy Carroll that he needs to get off his backside quickly and quit compl,aining when he gets fouled (which will inevitably happen). Another coach? And maybe a right back. And a central defender with speed who isn't afraid to tackle in his own box.

neil johnson said:

Overall I can see the business sense but some investment in the playing staff is needed if we are to survive and progress.
You have to have something to hang your hat on.
We need one proven goalscorer,one creative midfielder with experience and some defensive cover short term like Rise or Beye.
The club's thinking is perhaps not too far off the mark but PR wise they seem not to have a clue.As a Mag since 1958 but also an ex national Pubilc Affairs Manager and MBA I think they are still not getting the right messages across and don't yet fully grasp how to keep Geordie fans not only on their side but along with them.However remembering the Lord Westwood and McKeag days,little surprises me about our club!!

NJ Galloway Mags

aditya said:

Ashely you are simply not worth owning this club with such a great history and fan base.You break even with all your money, but please stay out of this club and do so.You should have been the last person on this planet to own this club.Please sell it asap while we are in the top division.Get your money and we'll welcome anybody else who takes over.Pity that I don't stay in Newcastle and can't actually protest..We are NUFC fans..helpless as ever..

Faustino said:

The annoying thing is the ambiguity of the statement.
Does 'no capital expenditure' mean we will no longer buy players we can't really afford and pay for them in installments? Or does mean zero money is available for transfers unless it is raised by player sales?
This (and the umpteen other questions that have stemmed from the release of this pr disaster) will, of course, not be answered, as the club will now be silent, or 'transparent' as it like to call itself.
Finally, Ashley hasn't earned the right to talk about the 'Great Geordie Nation' or to describe us in friendly terms as the 'Torch bearers'. It was proven in a court of law that he attempted to decieve the fans and, of course, just remember how he treated Keegan and Shearer.
I'm all for a businessman seeing a return on his investment, I just wish there was a way he could hurry up, take it and get the hell out of SJP.
Y F C B, G O O O C.

Barry said:

Ashley is pocketing this money - he overpaid for the club (thought it was a gold mine) and now is trying to claw it back. He doesn't care if there is mediocrity forever more - exactly like how he's made his money with his cheap sports shops.

Every premiership team needs to invest some of the TV money in players - and we're better off through gate receipts than most.

Make no mistake, any youth players developed will be sold as soon as their value is maximised.

Anyone who continues to handover their money every Saturday is putting it straight in his pocket.

There's only on language he understands - MONEY.

There's only one way to get rid of him from NUFC - stop the flow of it - boycott the matches, and he'll soon go.

It's as simple as that - either hand over your money and he's running the club like a cheap sports shop, filled with tat, or get rid of him - pain in the short term, but the benefit later.

Billy said:

Please everyone take a look at this.....

Prize Money for the 2009/2010 Premier League Season.
1.Chelsea - £16,000,000
2.Manchester United - £15,200,000
3.Arsenal - £14,400,000
4.Totenham Hotspur - £13,600,000
5.Manchester City - £12,800,000
6.Aston Villa - £12,000,000
7.Liverpool - £11,200,000
8.Everton - £10,400,000
9.Birmingham - £9,600,000
10.Blackburn - £8,800,000
11.Stoke - £8,000,000
12.Fulham - £7,200,000
13.Sunderland - £6,400,000
14.Bolton - £5,600,000
15.Wolves - £4,800,000
16.Wigan - £4,000,000
17.West Ham - £3,200,000
18.Burnley - £2,400,000
19.Hull - £1,600,000
20.Portsmouth - £800,000
Premiership Relegated Clubs
It is clear from the drop in prize money between the places that dropping into the Championship can be financially devastating. Not only do the relegated clubs receive a very low amount compared to teams in the top half of the Premier League table but they also won't receive this money next year or the T.V. rights money next year.

However, the relegated clubs do get parachute payments from the Premier League to help them cope with the drop. As well as this the relegated clubs are likely to sell there most expensive players during the summer before the new season. This will bring in cash and lower the wage bill of the players.

Premier League T.V. Rights and Sponsorship Revenue
As well as the money received for the final position in the Premier League table each club also received £14.6 million each this year for television appearances. This is a rise from £13.9 million last year and is a welcome increase to the clubs. It is also expected that each of the 20 Premier League clubs will have received between 2-5 million pounds in sponsorship deals, plus revenue from ticket and merchandise sales.

Newcastle assuming we get at least 17th spot next year = £3.5M + £14M (TV app) + £10M (increased revenue from fans) + £6M sponsorship = Total £33.5 MILLION POUNDS extra next year. SURLEY WE CAN HAVE A £20 MILLION BUDGET FOR PLAYERS?????? DISCUSS.

toongonebadagain said:

well done billy, my first question would be why have our hosts on here have not pointed the same out?

secondly its just the obvious really MA wants the money for his bank account unless he hands CH some of this money he obviously sees it as profit. what gets me is all you hear from him is how he keeps puttin ghis own money into his own club? yes and!? but what he fails to see is every single fan puts their money into the club, which helps support it. if this was a show in the westend would MA expect the fans to turn up and pay to see poor actors and a poor set? nobody pays top money to see a below average show.


DavidK said:

A number of posters have made statements along the lines of so-and-so isn't up to the PL or Wassisname has found his level in the Championship. The bottom line is this current squad is made up of players who, by vertue of the fact that they have Championship winners medals in their hot sweaty hands, all deserve the right to play at the top level. Quite simply they've earnt it during a season where they've had to both learn to fight for something other than the next fat cheque and to be confident in their own ability and that of those round them. No amount of imported "quality" players is going to improve on that in any league. We all saw how a squad of so called PL quality players performed when they had little or no belief in either themselves or their team mates. It culminated in a season where we were religated, not for a lack of ability, but for a lack of of belief and good old fashioned effort. One ounce of effort from a self proclaimed (at least in his brochure)internationally renowned goalscorer would have prevented us going down but it didn't happen did it? Not even the introduction of one of the most motivational captains this club has ever known as manager resulted in one ounce of resolve from these "quality" players to get us out of the mire. This attitude filtered down through the players that did want to be here and the result was 2nd division football.
So OK the Fat Controller has got his oompa-lumpas to put a statement out to the press that both feeds the Media's insatiable appitite for NUFC bad news and sends a message to the leeches of agents that the club's no longer the soft touch cash cow that it once was. Good I say, as long as the wording and tone of the statement made is a reflection of the parlous PR that the board have shown since Chris Mort left.
However, if the staement actually does mean that there's no money for new players it needn't be the disaster that some posters are predicting.
I still feel that MA is a parriah, and the sooner he's gone the better, but don't let our reaction to the statement filter through to the lads that we already have and re-trigger the disbelief that blighted this club until CH, CC and the players that stayed took matters into their own hands and rebuilt a squad into a team.

Rant over.......

Climbs off soapbox and stops saluting

gb17 said:

I will always be black and white throughout, but why does Ashley think i will be spending my hard earned cash on new strips merchandise and season tickets for myself and my two little ones to fill his pockets we buy all this to help pay wages etc we have always known and done this, after all can we not do the same just use the ones we already have, after this seasons runs out il just buy on the gate youl get a tickets no problem in the championship.

Geordie Lee said:

"Newcastle assuming we get at least 17th spot next year = £3.5M + £14M (TV app) + £10M (increased revenue from fans) + £6M sponsorship = Total £33.5 MILLION POUNDS extra next year. SURLEY WE CAN HAVE A £20 MILLION BUDGET FOR PLAYERS?????? DISCUSS."

Far too simplistic mate. You have to factor in overheads, with staff wages being the highest of all, like in any business. Then there's all of the interest on the debts we already have. These are to name just two of the many outgoings NUFC has every month. Ashley's aim is break even in five years. If he continues to spend during that period, it will take longer to break even, ie possibly 10 years or more. And do we really want this guy in the toon for that length of time?

toongonebadagain said:

we might not get all the money and i wouldn't think that would ever happen but 5-10m? would that hurt?

we bought well, well CH did, in jan and I think they are fitting in well we don't need a new team i think if they stay fit we'll be ok. we effectively went down last time because our best players we out most of the season MO, MV, JB, JE, DD thats the back bone of a good team. any team in the prem would suffer. personally if CH can keep doing the same i'll be content DG, JB, KN is and excellent central midfield let hope AC + PL or maybe LB can provide goals ST, and curly argy are a good pair of central defenders. -bring it on i say! if hes not handing it out sod him, lets carry on!

Geordie Lee said:

Over the last two seasons, NUFC has made an estimated operating loss of £70m. That's on top of previous losses. Ashley has had to pump in tens of millions every 3 - 6 months, just to ensure staff are paid. He is looking to trim his biggest overhead, staff, in all areas of the club. We still have many high earners on our books. The aim over the next few months will be to get rid of these high earners and replace them with younger (or lesser) players on a fraction of the wages. His plan is to get NUFC as close to breakeven as possible, so that we become an attractive proposition to a buyer. Then he can get the hell out of toon!

Phil said:

I dont get it like, Why not spend 20 - 25M this pre season (3-players GOOD ones), Give the younguns another year to mature (in the Premier), Bring in 3-4 on loan with the option to buy. Get our place secured and then bring in your 5 year plan and build from there, it does not make sense. Its a big gamble, even the current squad will think "i am off, there is no ambition here, who wants to play for a team who's only Target is to finish 17th". Gutted to be Honest, he has taken the flying high feeling away, just when things are looking good...R aye, a forgot who runs the club....BAM..there ya go lads..Cheers Mike. Its a big big gamble. Hope it works for his sake

Geordie Lee said:

"Phil said:
I dont get it like, Why not spend 20 - 25M this pre season (3-players GOOD ones)"

It's simple Phil - we're skint! We don't have any money. We've been operating at an increasing loss, and Ashley has decided that enough is enough. As someone else stated above, he's prepared to adopt the West Brom model of being a yo-yo club if it means we get closer to breaking even than to going out of business. We're a far more attractive proposition to a buyer if we're heading in the right direction rather than towards oblivion. Of course, what this means in the short-term is a team that will struggle in the top division (then again, the bottom six aren't that great!), but be too good (hopefully) for the Championship. In the long-term, it may bring benefits, the main one being a new owner!

abbas jamil said:

it seems from the time newcastle signed only lee bowyer in an otherwise forgettable summer and afew seasons a go it has been one disaster after and other.
newcastle treading water while all the rivals signed more big players.
you have to sign big player to complete or at else better then average ones to stay in the premiership.
nthis never happened as newcastle waited more money on flop after flop.
luque to mention one.

next season is going to be a hard slog and if youth is the only option the club have fine...
lets hope and prey we have enought to stay in the premiership..........
come on the toon!!!!

Tad Caster said:

That's exactly when it started to go downhill!

old tom said:

Ashley should be using the club as a business not a toy The fans are the customers,he should spend wisely as to speculate to accumulate

Geordie Lee said:

"Ashley should be using the club as a business not a toy The fans are the customers,he should spend wisely as to speculate to accumulate"

That's what he's trying to do - if you're in business, the idea is to at least breakeven, with the aim of making a profit. It's very difficult to do that from a position of a growing £70m+ debt! Most fans are exactly that, fans; they know nothing about business fiance, and don't want to know. All they want is to see transfer after transfer. If Ashley was treating NUFC as a toy, he'd keep chucking more and more money in; this is how Man Ciy will do things, but even Chelsea have realised that you have to be alot more shrewd. The way we were going, we were going to make the financial problems at Portsmouth and Leeds look like a drop in the ocean.

The flipside of course is that I'm resigned to watching an inferior team for the next five seasons, but if that means my bairns and their grandbairns have a team to support over the coming decades, so be it!


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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