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I Just Want To Enjoy The Football

7 years ago
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It isn’t a perfect comparison but it is close enough.

You regular hear the man and woman in the street claiming they have no interest in politics, often declaring proudly that they take absolutely no notice of what is going on as what is the point, they just want to get on with their lives without thinking/worrying about boring rubbish like that. After all what has it got to do with them/you, a load of chancers arguing amongst themselves down south, plus of course they (politicians) are ‘all the same’.

The irony of course is at the same time, those very same people will be sounding off about the NHS being turned into a shambles, savage cuts hitting the north east worse than anywhere else, jobs in short supply on Tyneside and so on.

So what about Newcastle United? Well first of all I think you have to understand/accept that what happens on any particular Saturday/Sunday/whenever is one thing, while the underlying health (or otherwise) of the running of the football club is another.

There is nothing wrong with turning up on a matchday and giving your full support to the team for the 90 minutes – but then also asking questions and/or worrying about how the club is being run, away from what happens on the pitch.

Just like everybody else I loved the wins over Chelsea and Spurs, the commitment of the players and credit to Alan Pardew for the combination of tactics, teamwork and luck that brought us six points. That doesn’t though stop me looking at what else is happening at NUFC and wondering/worrying when we play those teams next season what shape the team will be in, or even in the reverse fixtures later this season.

Alan Shearer this week stated that the spine of our team is a match for pretty much everybody else and name-checked Tim Krul, Coloccini when he comes back in, Cabaye and Remy. I totally agree with the living legend but surely those very players, who are our biggest strength, are also potentially our biggest weakness.

Working backwards from the front; Remy looks a class act but sadly I see no prospect of him signing long-term but hope I’m wrong, Cabaye did everything to get away in the summer and you’d have to be a real optimist to think that he’s now suddenly changed his mind, Coloccini did everything to leave in January, then we have Tim Krul who could be another Shay Given and be a rock for the next decade but he is very ambitious.

I did an article recently (see [intlink id=”35440″ type=”post”]HERE[/intlink]) which painted a really depressing picture of the underlying financial health of the club. The commercial and matchday revenues have collapsed and actually dropped by tens of millions compared to before Mike Ashley’s arrival.  Only the ever increasing TV riches had kept the overall turnover more or less the same, a shocking statistic when compared to pretty much every other club who have seen the money coming in, grow year after year. Which is what you’d expect via inflation and more importantly, the massive commercial benefits given to Premier League clubs via the massive worldwide exposure via broadcasting deals.

The Premier League’s dominant worldwide position and especially the massively increased exposure in North America, Asia and so on, sees companies falling over themselves to sign up commercial partnerships with English clubs. Everywhere seemingly apart from Newcastle, instead we are even told by Newcastle club directors that the perimeter advertising at St.James’ Park is given over to Mike Ashley’s sporting empire (Sports Direct, Dunlop, Firetrap, Sondico…) because nobody wants to buy it. I don’t think I have ever heard a more embarrassing claim, that advertising space seen by hundreds of millions around the world at matches such as those against Liverpool and Chelsea, doesn’t interest any companies or brands that would be willing to pay money.

So back to what we are all interested in; the football, the team, the players.

I loved watching Tim Krul’s heroics at White Hart Lane, I was thrilled when Loic Remy’s exquisite touch expertly bypassed Brad Friedel and opened the goal up for a quality finish, I admired and valued Yohan Cabaye’s non-stop closing down and moments of inspiration, plus of course I applauded the pulling together of the team that helped our most talented players win the game.

Sadly though, the underlying lack of ambition and drive for the club to be the best it can, on and off the pitch, means players such as Remy, Cabaye, Krul and others will always carry with them an ‘enjoy them while you can’ tag. The extra tens of millions that the club could and should be turning over each season would make a difference and put Newcastle United in a much better position to keep these players long-term and attract others.

If there had been sensible investment after that breakthrough fifth top finish then I think Newcastle would have been nailed on to be established top 8, or even top 6, or even potentially higher, in the coming years. Competing at the very top would need an awful lot of things to go right but driving as much money into the club is a key ingredient before you look for everything else falling into place.

That lack of ambition and foresight meant that instead of building strong foundations, Newcastle fell from just missing out on the Champions League to relying on Swansea (who were safe and hadn’t won a match since their League Cup triumph) winning at Wigan (thankfully distracted by their FA Cup dream) to prevent a looming relegation.

Mentioning Swansea, they have a really forward thinking board with fans a key part of the structure and indeed owning 20% of the club. They recently announced profits of £13.5m, have backed the manager with a number of what look impressive signings, and are looking to expand their stadium. Yes their results may have slipped a bit from last season but the underlying strength of what they are trying to do is undoubtedly there, they aren’t putting the club at risk via unsustainable spending but rather looking at every way they can drive more money into the club and help their progressive manager achieve all their ambitions. I might have also mentioned that they won a Cup last season, you know, one of those silver things that Newcastle United directors admitted wasn’t a priority under Mike Ashley.

So if you are happy to dismiss politics as having nothing to do with you or your lives, also bury your head in the sand and tell us all to shut up about what is happening behind the scenes at Newcastle United.

Just remember that a struggling north east economy does have something to do with the government and a failing Newcastle United off the pitch does have something to do with Mike Ashley.

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