Mike Ashley has removed an astonishing 14 people from the Newcastle United wage bill.

Despite being a club that are seriously understaffed both on and off the pitch, the club owner has found a number of ways to seriously reduce the current wage bill.

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Some opportunities have been put in front of Mike Ashley, whilst in other cases he has been the prime mover.

Over the last six months the following 14 Newcastle United employees have been slashed from that wage bill, with no replacements named as yet.

Alan Pardew

Hatem Ben Arfa

Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa

Davide Santon

John Irving

David Gilroy

Facundo Ferreyra

Jak Alnwick

Adam Campbell

Jonas Gutierrez

Remie Streete

Ryan Taylor

John Carver

Steve Stone

(There was also a number of young players not offered professional contracts as happens each summer)

Obviously we expect imminent news of Steve McClaren seemingly certain to take the manager/head coach role, with also the possibility of him naming a new coaching staff after John Carver and Steve Stone were formally confirmed as sacked this morning.

However, the overall effect of the departure of the 14 people above, is to have created a void and an opportunity at the club.

Those gaps we all hope will be filled by people who can make the club stronger on and off the pitch, though of course it also opens up the possibility of Mike Ashley just saving a massive amount in wages, or even the chance of making the club even more attractive to a potential buyer…

With the wages of Jonas, Ryan Taylor, Santon, Mapou, Ferreyra and Ben Arfa – that represents a huge saving instantly.

Whilst off the pitch, Finance Director John Irving going to Newcastle Airport and his assistant David Gilroy moving to a post at Manchester City, makes me think the possibility of Mike Ashley’s key people Derek Llamabias and Barry Leach (former Finance Director at Sports Direct and Rangers) ending up at Newcastle United isn’t just a fleeting daydream (nightmare).

This clearing of the decks in terms of slashing staff from the club, does appear to have been a distinct strategy in recent months.

Whether that is then with the intention of simply saving cash, or helping the club to move forward once again, we are about to find out.

Thanks to Chris Holt for giving me the idea for this piece with his ongoing list of people/players leaving the club, you can follow him on Twitter @MikeAshleyLies

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