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Have Newcastle Ever Been In Danger Of ‘Doing A Leeds’

8 years ago

The recent Freddy Shepherd quotes have caused a lot of debate in the comments section of The Mag.

There are those, of which I am one, who would certainly prefer Shepherd back at St James’, there are those who prefer the apparent financial stability of Ashley and then there are those who just can’t bear either.

I grew up in the era of Shepherd; the entertainers, Keegan, Shearer, Robson etc. Not forgetting the less entertaining Souness, Boumsong and Owen.

Times were certainly full of highs and lows but at least there were highs. Now, for me, there are very few highs, our manager headbutting opponents, proposed land sales and potential free transfers from the unwashed…wow.

The argument from the pro-Ashley/anti-Shepherd side is mainly based on the fact that Shepherd spent beyond the club’s means and was taking us to certain financial ruin. The most common phrase being ‘we would have been the next Leeds/Portsmouth’.

But would we?

As far as I’m concerned, the closest we have come to being like those clubs has been under Mike Ashley’s ownership.

The single reason those clubs are in that position is relegation, relegation and not coming straight back up.

The fact Leeds once spent £41m on players in a single summer just before they went down, and mighty Portsmouth spent £90m over the 4 years before they dropped, really didn’t help though.

Under the Hall/Shepherd running of the club, the closest we came to relegation was during the 04/05 season when we finished in 14th position, 11 points off the drop (and believe it or not, never spent £41m in a single season).

The year after, we got rid of Souness and finished 7th.

Teams like Everton and Villa had bigger debt and made much larger losses than us under Shepherd, that’s a fact.

Enter Mike Ashley and after the Keegan fiasco and Joe Kinnear, we were relegated. Ashley stumbled upon Hughton who did an amazing job in getting us straight back up.

This is where I believe we are under a greater threat with Ashley running the club. Relegation is now a real possibility.

I know he doesn’t want it to happen, of course not, but he’s a gambler. He gambles the least amount possible in ensuring we stay in this league.

If we went down again under Ashley, what would happen if we didn’t come straight back up?

I saw a statistic from a link posted on here the other day that showed commercial revenue had dropped by £8m within 2 years of Ashley running the club, we also know it remains at almost half of what it was when Shepherd left the club. By my reckoning the club has lost at least £50m during the Ashley years on that revenue stream.

We have no idea how much money free advertising for S***** D***** has actually benefited Ashley personally but it simply must have had an effect. Look at the rich list, his wealth has boomed in the time he has owned NUFC.

Therefore, my worry is that if Ashley’s gamble doesn’t pay off one year and we do go down again, will he care or would we have already served our purpose and be discarded, full of the debt we owe him that never goes down.

Then we really would have the possibility of being the next Leeds or Portsmouth.


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