Newcastle fans met with Lee Charnley and other club officials on Monday, here are some of the key question from fans and the answers from the club.
Additional comments from myself.
Taylor Payne: “Why is there seemingly no price for failure at NUFC. For a number of years now the club’s own targets have been failed to be met by those tasked with ensuring they do both at a coaching and boardroom level. The only person to lose their job at NUFC in the last eight years at these levels was the one man who achieved his target and that was Chris Hughton. This worrying trend is mirrored in the playing staff, where poor performances by so called big name players are rewarded by another start for the first team due to a lack of options and depth in certain areas. How does the club expect to improve when there is seemingly no price or consequence for underachievement?”
‘The club believes the squad now has strong options in most positions, enabling changes in team selection to be made where the head coach sees appropriate.
The club outlined its work to achieve a stable base, which it believes will help it to realise its aims in the medium and long term.
It was stated that frank discussions do go on internally and that the club’s models and systems are continually challenged in order to understand why targets aren’t reached. The club identifies where it has gone wrong and then works towards the solutions.’
No answer to the question of why Chris Hughton was sacked after winning the Championship and then establishing the club in mid-table, whereas Alan Pardew survived a near relegation season in 2012/13 and then this season under Steve McClaren it has been a relegation battle from day one.
Brian Parkin: “The club says internal discussions and meetings do take place but how can fans have confidence when we have the same issues?” BP pointed to some recent transfers as examples.
‘The club explained that in January, it looked to add a better balance to its squad and had been more flexible with its transfer policy than in previous windows, with the club looking at some short-term options and expanding its age parameters. The club explained that it is continuously reviewing its processes but that it would not make rash decisions.’
No sign of any real relaxation on the transfer policy, with only loan signing Seydou Doumbia exceeding the usual 26 and under.
Taylor Payne asked if the club was struggling to move some players out.
‘The club explained that any transfer requires a buyer, a seller and the willingness of a player to move. When one or more elements are missing, deals cannot happen. The club did attempt to move on a number of players who are not currently playing during the window and remains open to doing so.’
Can Marveaux, Gouffran, Riviere, Obertan form an orderly queue….
Brian Parkin outlined his concerns that the team lacks quality defensively.
‘The club explained that a willingness to invest in players was not the issue but that the right options had to be in place for that to happen. While the club looked at a number of targets in January, the right options that would improve the squad were simply not available at that time.’
David Maudlin asked if the club could turn to contingencies if targets were not available.
‘The club emphasised it had stretched its transfer parameters in January but that a number of reasons were behind players not being available at that particular time. As well as defensive targets, the club also noted it had lodged a club-record bid for a centre forward, which was rejected.
Despite that, the club felt it had a very positive transfer window given the calibre of players it was able to attract and the clubs those players had dismissed in order to come to Newcastle United.
The club accepted it sees the same weaknesses that fans do but that not every change has been possible despite significant progress in the last two windows.’
Very hard to accept that there were no left-backs or centre-backs available in January, even if only on loan, who would have significantly improved the team and/or protected against injury.
Taylor Payne asked if previous targets who were unable to move in January would be “ready to go” in the summer.
‘The club stated that deals would not necessarily be at that stage but after conversations in January, dialogue will be continued with regard to several targets with a view to them coming to Newcastle during the summer window.’
Brian Parkin: “Are some clubs easier to deal with than others?”
‘The club explained that it generally has a good relationship with all clubs. However, clubs have the prerogative to retain their players if they do not wish to sell.
In terms of clubs looking to buy, they may perceive Newcastle to be a difficult club to buy from because of the club’s reluctance to sell their best players.’
I think a few fans might disagree with Newcastle being reluctant to sell their best players…
Brian Parkin: “Does the club have any plans in the event of relegation as far as season tickets are concerned? In the event of relegation, does the club intend to reimburse any fans on the direct debit scheme if they decide to cancel their season ticket?”
‘The club is confident of remaining in the Premier League and, as a result, has not discussed plans in such detail across the business at this stage.’
So I take it there will be no reductions if we are relegated!
Taylor Payne: “Five years down the line from the introduction of membership for away tickets, is there any plan to change it?”
‘The club outlined the background of why membership was linked to away ticket sales. The club is currently reviewing the membership scheme and is considering a number of options with a view to improving it for supporters.’
If not a season ticket holder, fans have to buy a year’s membership even if they want to buy only a single away ticket.
New training ground – SH on behalf of NUFC Fans United asked for an updated on the club’s proposed new training ground building.
‘As noted in the last Fans Forum (October 2015), the club explained that it had reviewed its construction plans to see if enhancements could be made. Those improvements have been added, resulting in a superior facility to the original drawings. Those plans are with architects and the club will proceed at the most appropriate time. The club still has the same desire to improve those facilities.’
Taylor Payne asked if relegation would affect those plans.
‘The club has not discussed that scenario to date.’
Work was due to start last summer but the club postponed it indefinitely during last season’s relegation battle, no commitment yet on a start date during this current relegation battle – a bit of a theme building up!