Groundhog Day At Newcastle United
Groundhog day at NUFC. Fans are planning protests. Little money is being spent. Clubs’ most valuable players have been sold, and the money has not been re-invested. National media are reporting that Rafa Benitez and Newcastle fans should ‘stop complaining.’ The optimism and positive feeling around the club after last years 10th place finish in the Premier League has completely vanished. Mike Ashley is still the owner of the Football club.
Well over a year ago now I penned a message to Mike Ashley, which can be read here. As the Championship season was heating up we entered the January window needing re-enforcements to guarantee promotion back to the Premier League. Ashley provided no money and deals for players such as Andros Townsend never materialised due to poor planning, organisation and urgency to get deals done from the board. Much to the frustration of Benitez.
Since then, performances on the pitch couldn’t have been much better at the club. Rafa Benitez and the players rallied together and did exactly what every fan expected, to give 100% in every game they played in. Yes, some of the games over the last season were not particularly easy on the eye, but in this time period Newcastle United won the Championship and consequently promotion to the premier league, and then established themselves in the first division with a top half finish. Most clubs, and owners of said clubs, would see this as a great base to build upon.
Not Mike Ashley.
Newcastle have spent approximately £17 million pounds over the summer. A figure which is simply not enough to even stand still in this league, never mind improve. Factor this in with the sale of first team squad members accumulating to over £40 million, it can be quite easily said that Newcastle United are weaker than they were at the start of last season. The London based owner, Mike Ashley, released a series of statements and interviews at the end of the 17⁄18 season which were clearly aimed to manage exceptions. However, after recent events and the way the club has operated over the transfer window the comments made in these statements and interviews were just soundbites Ashley used to buy himself some more time with both Rafa and the fans.
One comment that especially frustrated the toon army was Ashley stating that he ‘can’t compete with Man. City.’ Newcastle fans simply don’t expect this, and it’s a complete insult of their intelligence. They do expect, not to be lied to, to spend the profit made on player sales over the past couple of seasons, and not see newly promoted clubs, who should have less financial means, significantly outspend the magpies.
The table below shows how many times every Premier League club, currently in the top division, have spent more than Newcastle’s record signing. Which was made 13 years ago this month, to sign Michael Owen for £16.8 million.
(Fees taken from transfermarkt.com)
- Arsenal – 12 Players
- Bournemouth – 1 Player
- Brighton – 1 Player
- Burnley – 0 Players*
- Cardiff – 0 Players
- Chelsea – 42 Players
- Crystal Palace – 2 Players
- Everton – 13 Players
- Fulham – 2 Players
- Huddersfield Town – 1 Player
- Leicester City – 7 Players
- Liverpool – 25 Players
- Man. City – 39 Players
- Man. United – 31 Players
- Southampton – 4 Players
- Tottenham Hostpur – 12 Players
- Watford – 1 Player
- West Ham – 5 Players
- Wolves – 0 Players
*Jay Rodriguez is expected join Burnley shortly for more than the £16.8 million Newcastle paid for Owen.
This table is damning for Mike Ashley and shows he not only can’t compete with Manchester City, but the likes of Bournemouth, Brighton, Crystal Palace, Everton, Fulham and West Ham. The message from the fans to Ashley is clear, if you do not have the financial means to be the owner of a Premier League club then sell, for a reasonable asking price. Not the £400 million quoted.
The concern among most fans that this is not a choice that is out of Mike Ashley’s hands, this is a conscious effort to spend no money and keep the money generated from TV, sponsorship and player sales in his own pocket.