Could Mike Ashley Be Ready To Invest More In A Manager Now?
I know all the evidence points to this being a pipe dream but Ashley’s aim since the Keegan debacle has not been to keep the club as small-time as possible, despite sometimes appearing that way.
Rather it has been to have the club in a self-financing position until such a time that he’s able to sell with a return on his investment.
Ashley doesn’t want to be subsidising anything himself. The profit the club has been turning over in the last few years mean that it can now afford a manager worthy of the Premier League. During the cost cutting exercises; Hughton, Kinnear and Pardew were all brought in because they were cheap.
Hughton was let go just before contract renewal discussions were due to start. He deserved to double his money for what he’d done. Pardew came cheaper though so Ashley kept expenses to a minimum and went with the new man. He avoided a repeat of this situation soon after, by offering Pardew an 8 year contract.
Clearly the club can now afford better. So far this year we’ve a net spend of £25.8m in one of two windows. Our highest spend in any previous transfer year (over both windows) has been just £10.8m net. We’ve spent two and half times as much and most of us know the sums show that there is a large surplus still left in the kitty too.
This isn’t a blip either, since promotion the club has been slowly investing much more on the playing staff…
What was previously a complete lack of re-investment of funds from players sold, has been reversed, so we’re now spending more on players than we’re recouping. The spend isn’t growing as quickly as the income did, but it’s clear to see.
There is of course still a huge debt at the club (£129m), in March 2015 we’ll find out if Ashley has been repaid the £18m suggested in the last set of accounts, but the accounts have always been clear about that being repayable, and the remaining £111m being ring-fenced. As long as that remaining debt is not recalled (big if)then it wouldn’t make sense to me for a man who is all about growing his businesses to limit the potential at the club.
He’s been cautious, and will remain so, but the club can now continue to operate within its means with a better profile manager, better backroom staff, and a significant yearly transfer budget. That simply wasn’t the case 4 years ago when Pardiola strode into town.
I think getting another season was Ashley’s reward to Pardew and his staff for what they had done previously. Ashley is very loyal, and rewards loyalty to him (rather than to players, a la Hughton). Pardew failing to repay that loyalty with results this season would allow the pair to part on good terms, with their debt to one another repaid and a new man brought in to take the next step, a man who can harness the best from the class of player that comes with increased transfer fees.
In years to come, could we look back on Pardew as having done a reasonably good job of keeping the ship steady during a difficult transition period?
If you would like to feature on The Mag, submit your article to [email protected]