Mike Ashley Joins The Newcastle United Board
The club have announced today that Mike Ashley has now joined the Newcastle United board of directors.
The club statement had the headline news of Lee Charnley being confirmed as Managing Director but I’m guessing that the real story is Ashley putting himself on the board.
In the meantime here is the club statement in full, plus a very lengthy overview of where the club is heading, allegedly.
We’ll be analysing what they have said in the coming days but make of it what you will for the time being.
Newcastle United has today announced the appointment of Lee Charnley as the club’s new Managing Director.
Lee, who previously held the position of Football Secretary and has been a director at the club since 2008, has taken up his new role with immediate effect.
Owner Mike Ashley will also be formally appointed to the club’s Board of Directors, joining Lee and Finance Director John Irving.
Speaking after his appointment, Lee outlined the Board’s plans and expectations for the club:
“It is a real honour to be confirmed as Managing Director. I have been with the club for almost 15 years and have seen a great many changes in my time here. The club has never been in such a stable and healthy financial position, which gives us the best possible platform from which to grow. I am confident that with our dedicated, hardworking and loyal employees, together with Alan Pardew and his backroom staff, we will progress the club, both on and off the field over the coming years.
“Our immediate priority of course is to finish this season as strongly as possible. Our minimum target for this campaign was a top ten finish, but I can assure our supporters that everyone at Newcastle United will do their utmost to ensure the club finishes in the highest league position it can. At the beginning of the season all our staff and players were incentivised should we finish in 10th position and above and our commitment to achieving this will continue right up until the final whistle on the 11th May. To their credit the players, led by the captain, agreed to this incentive scheme despite our 16th place finish last season.
“Looking ahead to future seasons, our primary focus will remain the Premier League.
“Our preparations for the summer transfer window have already begun of course, and our challenge is to make sure we spend the funds we have available in a careful and considered way in order to ensure that we get the maximum benefit from every pound we invest in the squad.
“We will continue to operate in a financially responsible manner and live within our means. This club is financially strong and there is money to spend if the deal is right and we are confident a player can add quality to the squad. That said, we will not pay over the odds or make knee-jerk decisions. Every player we sign represents a major investment and mistakes are costly which is why we will continue to be prudent in our transfer dealings. This is the reality of a well-run football club like ours.
“We can be proud that we already meet, and in fact exceed, the requirements of UEFA’s Financial Fair Play regulations and in our latest set of published accounts we recorded a profit for our third consecutive year. We will continue to manage our finances in this sustainable manner and will not accrue debt in order to achieve short-term gains.
“It is also important that we don’t over-promise and under-deliver for our supporters, players and staff. False expectations lead to disappointment and frustration, hence why we will keep our transfer business confidential and will not be drawn into commenting on the media speculation and rumour that exists in this digital world.
“As a Board we will continue to make the final decisions on all player transfers. Clearly however the manager and his team have a very significant involvement in such decisions and will be instrumental in making recommendations in relation to the squad.
“Our transfer policy and strategy is very clear and will remain unchanged. We will focus on identifying and recruiting young players whose best years are ahead of them, which in nearly all cases means players in their early to mid-20s and not beyond.
“We don’t look at transfer windows in isolation, but rather as a full trading year and our intention for the first team is to sign one or two players per year to strengthen the squad. In addition, we aim to strengthen the squad underneath the first team in order to make sure we have a strong group of players pushing our regular first team for a starting place each week. This is essential to bring out the best in everyone and provide an important element of continuity to the squad for the longer term.
“To achieve that it is crucial that we have a youth development strategy that is producing home grown talent who can develop and feed into the system, thereby contributing to the depth within our squad. Our Academy’s Category One status gives us an excellent platform for maximising the potential of the region’s young footballing talent and providing the best possible opportunities for local youngsters.
“We have invested heavily in our Academy to achieve Category One status and have made significant improvements in terms of staffing, infrastructure and facilities. Our aim is to be the best Academy in the region by a considerable distance, ensuring that the most talented local players end up at Newcastle United, not elsewhere. This is why it is important that we grow and strengthen our links with the local community. A strong relationship between the football club and the region is of great mutual benefit and it is something we are committed to. Some fantastic work is already undertaken by the Newcastle United Foundation, as well as by our Academy staff, reaching out to local boys clubs, engaging with schools and community groups and providing Soccer School coaching programmes around the region.
“The club has long been focused on keeping football affordable for our supporters and that will remain a priority for us. Our average attendance for league games so far this season has been over 50,000, making us the third best supported club in England. We want to see St James’ Park full throughout the season and we will continue to operate a ticketing policy and pricing structure that keeps Newcastle United one of the most affordable clubs in the Premier League, encouraging family attendance and rewarding our most loyal supporters with long-term price guarantees.
“We are also committed to our current strategy in relation to communication between the club and its supporters. At the beginning of the season we launched a new Fans Forum, with members representing our diverse fanbase. It has been an open, honest and productive forum and it will continue to be our primary means of direct supporter communication and engagement.
“The commercial side of our business will also be an important priority for us moving forward. Whilst at the moment we can’t compete with the commercial strength of the top six, whose income from sponsorship and advertising deals dwarfs other clubs in the Premier League, we will work hard to drive up our commercial income to give ourselves the best possible chance of competing on the field with those wealthier clubs.
“Of our three core income streams – Broadcast, Matchday and Commercial – it is only our commercial income that we are able to affect to any great degree, especially given our commitment to keeping ticket prices affordable for our fans. We have made great strides in this respect recently, having secured the most lucrative sponsorship deal in the club’s history, with Wonga. We are delighted to have them as a partner from a commercial perspective but also because of their desire to work closely with our supporters and in our local community. There is however still a lot of work to be done to ensure we are maximising every commercial opportunity available to us. Our plans to host the stadium’s first music concert since 2007 this summer, together with our participation in a high profile pre-season tournament this August in Germany, are evidence of the type of commercial opportunities we are pursuing.
“The extra revenue we are able to generate from commercial deals translates ultimately to the amount of money we have available to invest in the club. We will look where possible to use this revenue to invest not just in the squad, but into improving other areas of the business, including the stadium and its facilities, the Academy, the first team training centre and more. Supporters will be aware that we have recently announced plans to build a new multi-million pound state-of-the-art training complex which we hope will be completed in early 2016.
“This is our vision and strategy for the years ahead. The purpose of this statement is to communicate with our supporters in an open and transparent manner and we hope that it provides a clear outline of our intentions. We all want to see Newcastle United improve, but we are convinced that the best route to achieving this is to do so sustainably, building each season without risking the financial health and stability of the club. I can assure supporters that the Board and everyone associated with the club aim to make Newcastle United the best it can be, pound for pound.”
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