If the bizarre events of Wednesday have told us anything, it is that Newcastle United continue to operate under Mike Ashley in a very different way to most other football clubs.
More clubs will no doubt be involved in this HMRC investigation as it progresses but yesterday saw Newcastle United and West Ham in the spotlight.
It will be some time before any final conclusions/potential punishments are handed down but even the public reactions of the two Premier League(!) clubs pointed to how bizarre NUFC are, as Mike Ashley comes up to his tenth anniversary of buying the club.
Not long after the HMRC raids became public, West Ham released an official statement around 10am yesterday.
It was only 20 words long and predictably a basic holding statement, simply saying they were ‘cooperating’ with HMRC and would be making no further comment at this moment in time.
It took Newcastle United another eight hours to do precisely the same, though they did use an extra 10 words…
Some of you may think ‘so what’ – but it is just basic common sense and good PR to do this as soon as possible, as it then gives the media something to quote and ensures the club is at least seen to be doing the minimum in acknowledging the issue and they are ‘happy’ to be helping sort out these misunderstandings..
West Ham Official Statement (around 10am) Wednesday 26 April 2017:
“The club is cooperating fully with HMRC to assist their enquiries.
“No further comment will be made at this time.”
Newcastle United Official Statement (around 6pm) Wednesday 26 April 2017:
“Newcastle United can confirm that a member of its staff has this morning been assisting HMRC with their inquiries.
“The Club will be making no further comment at this time.”
The above just underlines how Newcastle United is not run along the lines of the other Premier League clubs that they are joining once again as from August, it isn’t a proper stand alone business with a strong management team given the authority/power to get on and run the club in the best way possible.
Instead it is more an offshoot of Mike Ashley’s retail empire, with Lee Charnley there as office manager/caretaker and unseen figures deciding any major issues – such as when to send out an official statement after what happened yesterday morning…
This is how Newcastle United’s official media partner, The Mirror have responded to the HMRC investigation:
‘Toon owner Mike Ashley only found out from the TV news, according to the club’s chief scout Graham Carr, dad of comedian Alan.
“Mike Ashley wouldn’t know what was going on in the office.
“He’d probably know the gross figures and all that, and how much is paid to agents.
“But he would probably leave Lee Charnley to run the club which he’s done very well.
“It’s a sad day for Newcastle, a real bolt out of the blue. It’s a bit of a shocker.”
The Mirror also quoted a sauce/source saying:
“Lee Charnley would not knowingly do anything wrong in my view.
“I would put my house on that.
“This could not be worse timed for the club – Rafa Benitez is busy planning for next season and obviously that means transfer targets.”
This sums up just how ridiculous the running of NUFC is, they can hardly ask Lee Charnley to comment…so they have an anonymous sauce and quotes from Graham Carr.
There is nobody else at the club of any visible seniority, so despite Carr never ever usually saying anything, it is his name they have to use, to say Mike Ashley won’t know anything about anything that happens at St James Park.
There is no proper management team to run the club off the pitch at Newcastle United and the constitution of the board is just laughable.
They have to have a board, at least in name only, and it comprises of three people at the minute – Charnley, Carr and Bobby Moncur thrown in, in a vain attempt to find popularity with the fans. A great player and Captain for Newcastle in his day, Moncur has lost a lot of respect with many supporters with past pro-Ashley comments as he desperately wants to be part of the football club.
No surprise that Ashley’s PR people are keen to distance the owner from any potential fallout at Newcastle United with this HMRC investigation, we have seen it all too often with the problems at Sports Direct. Claiming that Mike Ashley didn’t have a clue as to the key policies in place at his main warehouse and retail outlets, especially when it came to the way staff are treated.
If things are ran in a certain way at Newcastle United, for better or for worse, you can be sure that it has had Mike Ashley’s approval.