On the 7th of January 2015, sitting (pretty?) on 27 points from 20 matches and after going out of the FA Cup to Leicester, I was reading a Mag article on Davide Santon where he elaborated that; “we needed to make sure we get to 40 points as soon as possible…….”
Well, even with the state of affairs at our club, with zero hopes of any January reinforcements, with talks of more players going out, and with a caretaker ‘Head Coach’ in charge, I admit I laughed that thought off. Of course, we would be getting to 40 points with 18 games in hand! C’mon Santon!! That’s just 13 points from a possible 54, eh?
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In retrospect, I get Santon’s ‘joke’ now.
We won’t be getting to 40 points this season. Let you hit that as hard as it hit me.
Yeah, we have quite extraordinarily and miraculously pulled off a new low in our club records. Oh no, let me rephrase that. It’s not ‘we’ anymore. The ‘Company Newcastle United’ and the ‘Club Newcastle United’, with which me and the thousands of Geordies worldwide, ex-legends and ex-players, even football historians identify us with, are two separate entities.
So it’s the Company Newcastle United which has pulled off this horrendous feat of making sure that the Club Newcastle United go to the last day of the season with the looming thought of seeing their beloved club go down again, only 5 years since the last time.
Let’s talk about the Company Newcastle United. A shrewd businessman at its helm, with an over-paid, under-performing management team and an under-paid, grossly-incompetent ground staff (that’s the coaching team and the players).
This multi-million enterprise has turned out to be a fantastic business for its owner. Just look at the P&L for 2014. An increase of 35% in turnover, taking it to a record £129.7m, meant the club produced profits of £18.7m…and when we add in the fact that there was even a cash surplus of over £30m, it is impressive.
Spot on to the club’s objective – “To achieve a sustainable financial position, able to operate without reliance on external bank debt or additional long term financial support from our owner and meet UEFA’s Financial Fair Play requirements.”
Gone were the debt-days of Sir John Hall, Mike Ashley had taken the club to ‘financial’ stability, even sustained profitability. The club grew its business without much fuss, without much noise, and most importantly without improving the least bit on its main product – the brand of football – which fell to newer lows every season. Outstanding! Bravo.
Sir Bobby Robson defined the Club Newcastle United once. I will leave it at that. The Club Newcastle United was just collateral damage in all this financial mumbo-jumbo.
We kept going through the gates, kept glued to our TV screens and our laptops, kept complaining about the football we saw week-in and week-out. Kept raising questions on the club’s ambitions and future goals, even managed successful protests and boycotts, in person and through the social media.
We suffered the massive embarrassment and shame of an 8 game losing streak.
We saw our favourite players (among the horrendous lot, there may be some favourites) being ill-treated, disbanded, sold-off to clubs, played out of position, have months-long injuries and what not.
And come next Sunday, we also have to face a last-day relegation scramble. All this time, we complained about the main ‘product’ of the Company – the football and its collaterals. And we thought the Company would listen? Alas!
The #AshleyOut guys got it absolutely right! We need to reclaim the Club. But is it in our hands? Sadly, no. No amount of protests will shake off this multi-million enterprise. What will is that the Company takes a hit, a massive financial downturn due to the current state of affairs. And that is where I have got to say the dreaded word – Relegation!
Yes, I for one believe in the Phoenix, rising from the ashes, stuff. I also believe that for the Company Newcastle United to have any semblance with the Club Newcastle United, to behave as a single entity, we need a new owner and a new management.
We need somebody at the helm for whom the ‘product’ of the company is of at least equal importance and priority as the money, if not more. Some would say relegation may worsen our plight, that we may be the next Portsmouth or the next Leeds. I say, let’s take that chance as that’s the only way these parasites will be off our backs. Add to that the possibility of maybe Ashley having to sell us off on a major loss, it would just be the redemption I desire.
Maybe then we will have somebody passionate, somebody aspiring enough, who would make it a mission to take this club on the path to its long-lost glory.
Some would say let’s just scrape through for now, then Ashley would certainly try to avoid this debacle again next year, and we would see Mitrovic and Austin and Sidney Sam and Klopp and ….
Stop! Remember, a survival is a success, a round of applause in the boardroom of the Company. It will bring some patchwork to certain areas – maybe a defender here, a striker there, and that’s it.
There will be more chances to make a premium on some outgoing transfers, some more bargains to be had with cheap incoming sh*t!
There may be a revised league position target, maybe 12th – 15th, down from the lofty targets of 10th this year. And there will be more drab football, more poundings from the big 4, more derby miseries (Boro are almost there now), more cup exits in early rounds to League 1 teams, more heartache in the second half of the season, another relegation scramble come May 2016!
Ask yourself, do you want that? Can the Club afford anymore, before totally alienating its biggest asset – the fans?
I still do not know why I am hoping and praying for us to win next week. I have not known to hope anything else in my life, so I will do that again. But that’s a fan talking from his heart, my mind wants us to go down and rebuild.
Believe me, fans like me have got a lot to lose if we get relegated, we will hardly have any Live TV matches of the Championship here in India, we will have to settle for scrappy streams to follow and cheer on our beloved Blacks and Whites. But that is a sacrifice I am willing to do.
To see my Club play glorious football again, to see them at least try to challenge the likes of Chelsea and Manchester United, to see them reclaim St. James’ Park as a fortress again, to see players who take pride in wearing the shirt once donned by the likes of Jackie Milburn, Bobby Moncur, Supermac, Kevin Keegan, Peter Beardsley and Alan Shearer, and to see an owner who loves the Club and its football more than anything.
I am willing to hang on to that fool’s hope, are you?
Howay the Lads.
(Bangalore branch of the Toon Army)
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