Remember the Spurs game last year? Despite relegation, most Toon fans were looking forward to this season more than we had done for a decade. We’d won 5-1, we’d had a decent run (undefeated in final six PL games of the season) and we had a manager we believed in.

Odd, then, isn’t it, that many of us are looking at the next 4 months with what I’d describe as, nervous trepidation.

We are chuffed that we were promoted with a minimum of fuss but there are doubts about the season to come. The equation that most people agree upon is: the current squad isn’t good enough for the Premier League; Rafa will demand new players; the right calibre of player will mean a major spend; Mike Ashley may revert to type and refuse funding; if Rafa is short-changed he’ll walk.

So it’s Mike Ashley’s move. But when I say that, I don’t just mean inviting Rafa to a meeting and running the numbers. I want Mike Ashley to fall in love with Newcastle United. Apart from a few early months when he turned up in the away end and bought a few rounds in the Bigg Market – he has spent the past 10 years showing the club as much affection as he would a troublesome hemorrhoid.

Right now, we have an owner who sees NUFC as a business rather than a labour of love, and unless that changes, I don’t see us getting the future we want, because – and I hate saying this – it makes no financial sense for Mike Ashley to invest beyond a certain point.

Newcastle’s revenue in the Premier League will come from a variety of sources: Gate receipts, merchandise, domestic TV, overseas TV and so on.

The problem I have with this is that the club are guaranteed a certain level of income regardless of whether we finish top or bottom. We’ll probably get 50,000 plus at SJP every week. Half of the domestic TV money and all of the overseas cash is distributed equally between the 20 clubs. We get a larger share of the rest the more often we are shown on TV, the further up the league we finish. But our games are televised a lot whether we do well or do badly and league position is only worth £2m per place. Now think about that for a minute…

Let’s say Mike Ashley invests enough money to magically guarantee us a 17th place finish. I reckon that – before anyone pays a penny at the gate – the club will get around £125m in revenue. It doesn’t really matter if my numbers are a bit out.  A certain level of funds will come our way no matter how good or bad we are. And I do believe Mike Ashley doesn’t want another relegation. That would mess up the balance sheet. But our reward for finishing 16th would only be £2m more. 15th would yield us a further £2m, and so on.

So if you see the football club purely as a business, then it makes virtually no economic sense to spend the amount of money that some people are speculating. Finishing 12th as opposed to 17th would see us trouser an additional £10m. How much extra would it cost to guarantee that in transfers and wages? £20m?

A businessman would rather spend that on something else. Put it in stocks and shares and it should earn you £1.5m every year, and you get to keep the £20m.

Despite what buffoons such as Bellamy and Sherwood have said in recent days, I don’t think Toon fans need a top 6 finish to be happy next season. But we do look at a club like Everton – where decent investment by engaged owners has yielded a successful Premier league club – and wonder why we couldn’t have done the same as them. And we also look at Villa and Sunderland and see what happens when owners don’t love their clubs.

I’d like to think that the positive vibes he generated when he hired Rafa has made Mike Ashley feel good about investing in the club. I hope so.

If Newcastle United represents no more than a business he wishes he hadn’t bought, then Newcastle United will never be more than a struggling side.

I suspect that will not be enough for Rafa Benitez and it isn’t good enough for me. We need our owner to start loving our club.

Your move Mike…

(All contributions from Newcastle fans welcome, send articles (as well as ideas/suggestions) to [email protected])



  • Desree

    It won’t happen. And he hates the fans as much as they hate him is my guess.

  • joe rondel

    In the long term I believe it does make a lot of financial sense to invest in the club and success on the pitch can definitely lead to improved profits . Increasing our average position in the premier league and (dare i say it) possible having a few seasons in the champions league would have knock on effects. It would increase our domestic but also, more importantly, our foreign fan base, as people are more likely to be attracted to supporting a successful club. This would allow us to gain better sponsors and brand deals as well as selling potentially much more merchandise. Not to mention the money you get from the champions league… but let’s not get that carried away yet.

    • joe rondel

      alsooo… best not to think of buying players as a cost – but rather an investment. If you buy the right players and use them properly their value will only increase, so though they are not as liquid as having cash they can still increase the value of the club just by being under contract here. Again don’t forget succesfull players sell more shirts.

  • X,WHY,Y MAN.

    Some of the amounts being quoted in the media allegedly by the likes of Alan Shearer are nothing more than “Pie In The Sky.”
    We all know what was being rumoured around Christmas surrounding Ashley, Benitez, Carr etc and what followed in January did it’s best to derail the promotion push.

    I think it will be the usual from Ashley with the bare minimum spent and most of this season’s squad being tasked with the job of keeping Newcastle in The Premiership.
    Either Benitez will be sold a Pig In A Poke Never, Never, Or he may get the Alan Shearer silent treatment followed by a dodgy appointment of someone who has never worked since the days of Methuselah and Carr being given a rail card for the channel tunnel yet again.
    What about the old chestnut of “No Capital Outlay” being wheeled out again for good measure ?

    At the end of the day this is Mike Ashley we are talking about so you can never rest easy.
    When things are going along smooth he has a tendency to lob a brick in the pond and with last weeks dawn raids being anything to go by then it may be a case of strap yourselves in !

  • Blackburn1066

    HELLO! The little FAT man upstairs just wants cash in the tills, never mind the fans he could not give a F**ck about them. He will give Rafa just enough cash that keeps him at the club. Then see where we end up. At the end of the day you have to remember he is just a shop keeper after all and knows F***k all about Football..

  • Stephen Paylor

    in reality we already know Big Mikes view of this and it is sensible i suppose. He loosened the purse strings just last season and look where that got him. We will net spend 30 million this summer and Rafa will do something he is known for in buying up and coming stars and we will be ok. Yes just ok. Mid table maybe even lower mid table year one. The books will be balanced and it will take a real achievement to do any better than that. Net spend 100 million and finish maybe 8th. Ashley wont see the logic in that and to be honest i dont either. It will take a couple of years with a sensible game plan to slowly creep forward in the way west Brom and Bournemouth have. How exciting, following West Brom and Bournemouth

  • MichaelMaximusMoose

    He`s a shop keeper, don`t expect him to change, he won`t.
    he gambles on staying in the premiership for the minimum amount of expendtiture

  • Damon Horner

    You can’t aim for 17th. There isn’t a vast quality difference between most of the league.

    Ashley put in a decent spend in our last season and comparatively backed well last summer.

    Money might not be amazing this summer but it’s more important it meets what Rafa feels he needs.

    • Steve

      Precisely – I look at 17th position in the PL at them moment and potentially, they could finish 9th. Palace, in 16th could finish 8th, given results go their way. There is no difference in class between 8th and the bottom (Sunderland aside).

  • Leazes Ender

    What do you mean ‘Mike Ashley may revert to type’…. that implies that he has changed tack…. he hasn’t…..

    ….as those fools who think that maybe ‘this time he has learned his lesson’ will find out…. and unfortunately as Rafa will find out… what is the matter with you?

  • 1957

    The specific amounts being speculated on in the media are not going to happen. The club will have a budget in mind Benitez will already know this and will have prepared himself accordingly.

    I suspect Benitez will go into the meeting with a list of positions to strengthen, a list of options for each and the potential cost of a deal for each. He will want Ashley to commit to buying from the list fully knowing his first choices, probably the most expensive, probably wouldn’t come to the newly promoted NUFC.

    This is where the stalemate will come. Ashley will want a firm figure, understandably, and equally it’s understandable will be Benitez reluctant to tie himself to a specific spend and run out of money for what will be a big job.

    • Damon Horner

      Agreed. The amount he is given for us isn’t the most important bit.
      What’s most important is that Rafa knows what he has to work with so he can plan accordingly and the boardroom are committed to supporting him in what he wants to put together.

      £40mil spent well can do more than £150mil spent badly and it relies on boardroom consistency really.

      • Paul Patterson

        That last paragraph hits the nail on the head and many managers fail to heed it..

  • Wor Lass

    What worries me is that Rafa won`t want to be managing a club that`s just aiming to survive next season. It`s OK for the likes of Pulis and Howe (two good managers) to slowly improve but – with all due respect to them and their clubs – they`re not world class achievers at massive clubs. Rafa has stayed with us because he saw a chance to build something special, to wake up a sleeping giant -and he doesn`t want to wake us up slowly in time for lunch!

    • Damon Horner

      Rafa wouldn’t want to be managing in the Championship and he did this year. I think he is sensible enough to think that might have to be the way it is next year. It becomes a problem if it looks like it won’t ever evolve but he can take some pain if it means he is allowed to push on beyond the usual limit.

  • Soldier

    Ashley`s change of heart lasted all of 6 months then he pulled the plug on Rafa.
    Rafa wants a club with ambition he won`t find it at Newcastle

    • Leazes Ender

      If you’ve still got your gun shoot him….. then claim stress…. it seems to work

      Ashley not Rafa I hasten to add….

  • dannymc21

    Ashley backed Rafa to stay to get us promotion. There has been nothing since to suggest that Ashley will spend to ensure not just survival, but success.
    I believe that as far as Ashley is concerned, Rafa has done what was needed, if Ashley sticks true to form he won’t back him in the transfer market and Rafa will understandably walk.
    Will Ashley care? Absolutely not. We are back in the land of milk and honey and Ashley will just employ another journeyman Manager to do his bidding.
    He’s shown he couldn’t care less about success or the views/hatred of Newcastle fans directed towards him.
    Enjoy Sunday, sadly I can only see more struggle and strife ahead.

  • toonterrier

    When you read that Manu. Manc and Chelsea are bidding for single players valued at £100m then read that Rafa will be offered £70m to rebuild the squad then next season we’re going nowhere just another case of survival. Like to think that Rafa will stay but wouldn’t bet my pension on it.

    • Lord

      Based on what most Premiership clubs spent last season, £70m would be a fine start and I doubt Rafa will be expecting any more than that.

      Those clubs you mention are bidding to win the title and Champions League and aren’t a good comparison point.

      It would be an achievement to cajole Mike into outspending the likes of Crystal Palace and Watford.

  • Steve

    Mike and Penfold have to find the right balance. Over-investment, unless champions league qualification is a given, could prove costly and we can all guarantee that won’t happen. Under-investment could mean an under-strength team, relegation, and fat mike putting his hand in his pocket to prop the club up again to cover the costs of PL wages, when that could have been spent on another couple of quality players.
    He has a reputation, yes, but he’s not daft. Rafa will get a decent kitty I’m sure. 70 mill sounds a good amount for phase 2 of the Rafalution if you ask me. More will be made available summer 2018 for phase 3.

  • magpiefifer

    Leopard Ashley will not change his spots.