I am just writing this sitting here in Hong Kong as I listen to numerous podcasts and read most articles in the press written about Newcastle United.

However, I never understand this constant statement by numerous journalists and football reporters about Alan Pardew’s time at Newcastle United.  We are constantly told how Pardew did well considering he had his best players sold each season and not replaced by the owner Mike Ashley.  I would just like to make some points on this argument and look at the players in question.

AndyCarroll10Andy Carroll – Newcastle were offered £35m for their forward who then handed in a transfer request to push through a move to Liverpool.  Many Newcastle fans were unhappy with this sale as Carroll is a local lad and looked as if he was going to tear premiership defences apart for years to come.  However, I don’t think you will find one person who would not agree that this was an excellent bit of business by Mike Ashley, considering the player’s injury record and form since leaving Newcastle.

(To feature like Phil, send in your articles for our website to [email protected])

Demba Ba – Picked up by the scouting team on a free transfer and had a £7m release clause inserted into his contract; if Newcastle had not accepted this then they probably would not have been able to sign him.  Newcastle tried many times to renew this contract without a release clause but Ba’s representatives refused.  When Chelsea came calling he was always going to leave and there was nothing the club could do about it.

Yohan Cabaye – Bought for a bargain £4.5m due to the scouting network discovering a release clause in his contract.  Arsenal offered £11m for Cabaye which was turned down immediately.  The player then handed in a transfer request and went on strike, refused to play.  The player made it clear he wanted to leave so Newcastle took the best option they could and accepted a payment of more than £20m from PSG in the following January.

Mathieu Debuchy – Arrived for £5m to Newcastle and is Cabaye’s best friend.  When Cabaye left, Arsenal made an offer for £11m for Debuchy and while he didn’t hand in a transfer request the noises coming out of the club were that he wanted to go.  Newcastle therefore doubled their money on a player who had impressed at the club and then found a replacement for less than half that fee in Janmaat, who many believe is a better full-back.

I therefore believe that this lack of ambition which is thrown at the club due to them selling their best players is unfair.  All of the players who left wanted to leave and either handed in transfer requests, refused to sign a new contract, or in Cabaye’s case went on strike to push through their move.  If they hadn’t agitated for a move would Newcastle have sold?  I am not so sure they would have, unless ridiculous money was offered as in the Carroll transfer.

The next claim is that Newcastle sell their best players and don’t replace them, which I do agree with to an extent, but Ashley has never been about spending money because they have it, but rather looking for value in the market when it arises.

Two perfect recent examples of this are Ayoze Perez (£1.5m) and Moussa Sissoko (£1.8m), going further back you have Cheick Tiote (£3.5m) and Yohan Cabaye.  The argument against Ashley is that the signings he does make, the money is used from players that are sold.

I don’t see the problem with this business model as the club is self-sustainable and is being built and developed on a strong financial footing.  A focus is being placed on developing players from the youth team which seems to be coming through particularly well this year in players such as (Dummett, Aarons, Sammy Ameobi, Armstrong etc).

newcastle united wagesSouthampton correctly receive constant credit for their youth set-up and I believe this is what Newcastle and Ashley are looking towards for the future of the club.

Swansea have just agreed a £30m fee with Manchester City for Wilfried Bony and the transfer has been described by many as good business for both teams.  I can only imagine the reaction if Newcastle were selling Bony to Manchester City in this transfer window and Pardew was still in charge.

To finish, I just believe that the Mike Ashley regime at Newcastle receives a lot of criticism that is unfair in my opinion.

Yes he has made mistakes in the past but as a Newcastle fan I agree with many things he does at the club, especially in the era of financial fair play and taking a longer term view of progression, rather than what has gone on before him at the club which nearly sent the club bankrupt.

The next managerial/head coach appointment is crucial and if they can get it right then the future could be very bright indeed for Newcastle United.

***We are rolling out a host of improvements to the website in early 2015 and the first of these is that we have moved over to Livefyre, our new commenting system.

Setting up a Livefyre account is easy, all you need to do to get started is click Sign In below, then click Create An Account.  You then enter a unique Username (the name which will appear whenever you leave a comment), a Password and your Email Address and you are ready to go.

Alternatively you can sign in with your Twitter, Facebook, Google+ or Linkedn account.

Pull your friends into the conversation by clicking to share on Twitter and Facebook.

Don’t worry, we are in the process of transferring all previous comments into the new system and they will then show as well, so please be patient!

Christmas Gifts - shop.themag.co.uk
  • MagpieG

    I tend to agree with your assessment of the sales. Any sensible fan should be aware of the football food chain and our position in it. Look at the players Arsenal have lost over the past 4 or 5 years and both Spurs and Liverpool have lost their best player recently. The biggest problem with Ashley lies in his crippling lack of ambition. If we had a coach/manager who played good attacking football and we had a decent stab at the cups then I think most of us would be reasonably happy. Unfortunately Ashley simply wants the club to tread water while he milks the tv money. We’re losing our soul.

  • LeazesEnder

    Phil… Its not so much the ‘Not replacing players’ but the fact that he doesn’t replace them in a given season…essentially writing-off a campaign and he’s done it again and again!  … and will continue to do so because once safety is achieved the accountants are happy.   You are making the mistake of thinking that the owner likes the club…he doesn’t!

  • Texas09

    Rubbish lame article… (yawn!) none of what Ashley gets is unfair he buys and sells players to for a profit to fill his own pockets. Does not have any ambition to take the club forward does not spend great amounts on quality players and milks the club dry. I for one can’t stand the man, and yes he deserves everything he gets he takes the 52,000+ fans for mugs and knows he can get away with it because he knows us Geordies love the club, he has and never will have any ambition to take the club to the next level to compete with the bigger clubs it’s not the fans killing the club, it’s the greedy controller we’ll probably sign no one yet again in this window de ja’ vu all over again same old story and he Ashley will be dragging his heels in over a new manager the longer he leaves it the better the new man will want new players, so greedy man Ashley will stick with Carver no doubt till the end of the season so he does not have to spend one penny and if that’s the case I fear the worst free fall here we come and possibly relegation. The day can’t come quick enough for me when he Ashley sells up it’ll be a time to celebrate, I go to the home games and for me its utter pain watching the state of the club and how it’s run it’s all based on Ashleys cheap Sports Direct everything revolves around that he maybes is a great business man no doubt but as a person and a football owner that’s worth a fortune he ain’t half greedy it’s all about him him him does not care about the fans or the club only ££££ signs.

  • LeazesEnder

    Texas09 I think its a worthwhile article because Phil is using the excuses many in the media are using to pacify a large section of fans and those questions and those journalists have to be challenged whenever they repeat the lie!

  • Demented_Man

    Three points:
    1. If you continually sell your best players there is only one direction you will go – down.  Southampton sold some of their best players in the close season but have a much stronger youth set-up than Newcastle’s.  Hence they have actually improved.  Admittedly, sometimes you just have to let players go in this day and age, but Newcastle neither make a real effort to keep them nor seek to replace them with similar quality.
    2. Just because Newcastle regularly make a profit on the transfer market doesn’t mean they are being put on a “firm financial footing”.  As has been repeatedly pointed out here and elsewhere, NUFC’s commercial revenue has plummeted these past few years due to being regarded as little more than an advertising hoarding for SD.
    3.  MA actually knows nothing about football, a fact admitted even by his pal Pardew, and doesn’t care that he knows nothing.  He cares nothing for the fans either, relying on their stupidity and/or loyalty to continue turning up at SJP in droves whilst deriding and humiliating them.  His sole concern – to remain on the gravy train that is the PL.
    In short, Newcastle have become a soulless selling club under Ashley, where any pride or excitement fans may have once derived from watching their team has been remorselessly eliminated.

  • toonterrier

    Like most supporters I welcomed Ashley when he bought the club thinking that we would see the club move forward with a good chance of winning trophies and fighting for a place at the top of the league.
    To say we were disappointed would be an understatement. No ambition,no chance of winning anything with any money coming into the club topping up the bank account of a bloke worth four billion pounds and we’re expected to be happy with mediocrity. Wouldn’t wish him on Sunderland never mind Rangers but the sooner he moves on the better. . .

  • RexN

    As ever, much as I disagree about letting Ashley off lightly, I applaud any attempt to stimulate debate and to put yourself in the firing line so well done on that, Phil.

    Yes, players get traded. Ashley is making a huge profit and cutting costs having changed the identity of our club into a feeder club. This is the 3rd best supported club in the country in terms of gates. When the club gets it even half right on the field, it is the best supported club in terms of passion.

    Whilst you address some of the player sales, we compete in a league where other clubs invest profit in providing a quality product on the pitch. The heart of what NUFC is has been torn out, even as far as peddling a loan shark on shirts bought for children. There is a bigger picture which is more about whether we are Newcastle United or just a Premier League franchise making profit from TV, profit from player sales and profit from debasing our club.

  • Very Terry

    I appreciate this article regardless of its accuracy (which we can’t really guauge because MA never tells anyone what he’s thinking), Anyway,it makes a welcome change and is more constructive than just insulting the guy. 
    I live in hope that he does have a long-term plan to get us playing quality, exciting football at the highest levels but it is really, really fustrating supporting this team in the meantime :(
    Yes, I accept I might be deluded but I’ve waited 40 odd years so far so what difference does a few more make?

  • Alexh1984

    “Southampton correctly receive constant credit for their youth set-up and I believe this is what Newcastle and Ashley are looking towards for the future of the club”
    I know your in Hong Kong but you do realise he’s been here for 7 YEARS don’t you?

  • wor monga

    There’s nothing wrong with any of the comments that the
    writer has made in this article, because under Ashley the club has a better
    scouting set-up in place than it has ever had, which brings in first rate
    professional players and has a decent academy starting to produce good results.
    The trouble is Ashley doesn’t ‘stroke’ the fans…he makes unpopular policy
    decisions seemingly without caring who gets trampled on or upset, he’s forced
    harsh restrictions on spending which he will not allow broken even though it
    means much smaller clubs can easily out bid us, and the sum of his ambition seems
    to be simply to maintain PL status, and sequestrate the huge financial bonus
    that brings with it. He has never tried to kid anybody though, and (unfortunately
    for us)… to him, the Toon, is only another marketable commodity he dominates…in
    a free market, and if you don’t like what’s on offer then don’t buy…He’ll just
    look to entice somebody else who will!!!

  • ash1001

    I think most are missing the point which is that – Just about everyone is making up stories,  next question? why are they making up these stories, there are two reasons in my opinion

    1 – Because there is nothing coming out of the club, OK it might not have been good, but cast you minds back a few years and we had Journalists who could speak to the players etc, and we had the likes of Sir John Hall, and Freddy Shepherd who always had a story to tell.
    2 – Far to many of the blogs, could name one from overseas that I am sure exists on ‘clicks’ when you look at the number of ads on site as well as the tracking cookies, if I am wrong in this I apologise in advance.

    What genuine contact have we with the club – 3 Fans Forum meeting a year, and to be honest at present very little is achieved their, how do I know – read the minutes on the club website and also because I sit on it.

    In my opinion the criticism of Mike Ashley and the club is justified purely on the basis that they do not communicate with us the fans, be it good or bad news,

    The fans can accept bad news  (we have learnt to do so over the years)  but lets have it from the club, not some made up headline grabbing story.

  • Willvenus1

    There is no trust between supporters and regime, and for good reason. Also, everybody makes mistakes but the trick is to learn from them which NUFC rarely do. Otherwise, a fair assessment.

  • Boomsong

    Good article.football is a business at the top level now,nothing more.ashley wants to make a profit and that’s business.premier league is all about money if that’s not ur thing maybe go watch amateur football.

  • Maximus Moose

    Boomsong Profit yes. Asset stripping NO

  • Adam_B

    in a word, no. It is not over the top.

  • Texas09

    Football is a business, and to make it work and be a success you must invest in quality players just ask the likes of Man City Chelsea etc all got strength in depth and don’t sell there best players and build on it. Where as we have a similar guy thats stinking rich and all he Ashley wants to do is make even more money with no intention or ambition of taking Newcastle United forward and taking the fans for fools. And as a profit YES and Asset Stripping Hell Yes Ashley has more than milked the cow, and wants to drain every last drop.

  • toon tony

    A big NO from me. The reason players like Cabaye, Ba, Debuchy wanted to get away was because they have ambition, Ambition to win trophies and play in the champions league. Ambition. ….A word never associated with our great club.

  • paul janes

    To run the club profitably is no sin,to run the club with deliberate lack of ambition is joyless unless money is your only god.

  • Hughie

    The point you miss entirely are about timescale and communication. I agree that the low risk financial model pitched at self sufficiency and Sports Direct promotion makes sense for the owner given the initial naive purchase because of a poor due diligence investigation we are told. I do not believe that the feller bought the club to experience the sort of grief regularly dished out to him by some so called fans–both slanderous and libelous incidentally. I think that the man has often taken appalling advice about running a football club, and the naivety of bringing his family etc to matches and being surprised by the verbal abuse dished out perhaps demonstrates this. The question for many of us longer in the tooth fans is that assuming the objective of self sufficiency is realised, will the current model change to a more ambitious approach,which will help to recruit and keep the better players, or will Ashley sell up for commercial or personal reasons? 
    We have waited far too long for the sleeping giant to punch its weight, not along with the Southamptons and Swanseas, but with the Man U’s Arsenals and Liverpools, and to gain respect and trust Ashley and co need to tell us what their intentions are, instead of us having to permanently second guess. What the club astonishingly fails to realise is that it’s current hopeless communication strategy costs it millions in negative publicity.

  • Nicolaus Copernicus

    Clearly written by someone who can see sunshine through the darkest of clouds, or who measures only through spreadsheets. Unfortunately, by turning us into a profitable commodity, Ashley has sucked the very soul out of our club.

  • Very Terry

    Hughie great post Hughie, completely correct in my humble opinion.

  • No Brainer

    Alexh1984 that would mean the 14 year olds who were at the club when he very first began would be 21 now. Do you realise how naive your response where ever in the world you are

  • grahame49

    Due to the cheap prices for under 17s Ashley has created a huge problem, fans who love the club as it is and will do for ever. I seen that look of love by many a bairn at Everton and Burnley our under 17s love our club in a way that all that went before them would have been proud of. So thanks mam and dad

  • No Brainer

    RexN the third best supported club in terms of gates relates only to the number through the door. The club is currently 6th in terms of gate revenue

  • No Brainer

    Demented_Man I think it is correct that in the last four years the club has sold only 5 notable players. Most of whom have laterly found that NUFC was their grade. 
    The sales have created significant revenue making contributions to the future growth of the club. 
    This is being achieved through training and medical facilities that are the equal of any in Europe, as well as a much larger squad of premium players on the books.
    Commercial revenue will be shown to be higher than it has been for some time within the next few weeks with the accounts due to be announced.

    We keep reading so many false rumour that he has taken money out of the club when this is simply untrue there has been no payment of any dividend by NUFC since he took over.

  • No Brainer

    MagpieG Is it not Mike Ashley’s recognition of this which has led him to take this steady prudent approach. Many pundits laud Everton for their club management but they play so close to the wind. A few injuries and they would have to go into serious debt to purchase new players and there is always serious risk that this does not work. As we witnessed in Jan 2013 that is not the case with NUFC.

    If a club has significant reserves and a successful youth policy there are only bright days ahead.

  • GeorgiaPeter

    Very Terry Porciestreet;
    “What difference does a few more make” well, when your our age son, it might just be becoming out of reach. We remember when it was the best club and thats why it hurts so bloody much to see this rogue tearing whats left of it apart.

  • GeorgiaPeter

    RexN Porciestreet;
    You are so right.

  • Opiner1

    “taking a longer term view of progression”
    There is no longer term view of progression. Mid table is where he wants us to be so the Premier League TV money keeps rolling in. That’s it. Yes, our current transfer system is better than in the past when we threw away money on expensive crocks and has beens, but it also took Ashley until after we got relegated to make this change. As with most things he’s done so far here, he changes only after he’s made a disastrous mistake (like giving Allardyce a blank cheque to sign the likes of Smith and Geremi). Even now, while the players we sign are usually good, he doesn’t have the ambition to sign enough players to cover the gaping holes in our squad. And of course, finally, his reluctance to go out and appoint a decent manager. Perhaps that will change this time around, but I’m starting to suspect that he will once again take the cheapest option and appoint Carver because he’s too lazy and tight to bother looking for a good manager.

  • GeorgiaPeter

    No Brainer RexN Porciestreet;
    The argument is not about what clubs charge at the gate, If that wa sthe case, The Stad Des Hite would be full every week but its not . They even give seats away to kids to boost the atmosphere and even that doesn’t work.

  • Opiner1

    No Brainer Demented_Man Hi Mike.

  • stevennufc

    so thats it then!…dont try to win anything…..stay in p.league….and remain on a “sure financial footing”…bingo!….looks like we”ve been missing the point al these years!

  • SimonM68

    Good article in terms of stimulating a lively banter. Ashley isn’t the first to have his trotters in the trough at St James and I’m not sure he’s even the most odious (remember fat Freddies’ comments) And in a sense you can’t argue with ‘buy cheap, sell high’.  When people go on about a good ‘business model’ – it is – for the shareholders (ie him) but not for the stakeholders (us).
    Still by far the biggest crime for me is what happens every January. It’s against the whole ethos of sport and sullies the memory of the likes of wor Jackie and dozens more who have given all on the pitch to try and bring silverware back. It embarrasses us as a club in front of the nation and it’s sickens me to the stomach. It’s one thing not to win anything but totally another not to try. For that reason my firtst nomination this week is …… Mike Ashley

  • No Brainer

    I could not agree more that the great sportsmen like jackie are being sullied. I’m not entirely certain that its mike Ashley who is doing the sullying.
    1. In October 2010 Andy Carroll was given a contract worth 25k per week all based on his potential as he had proved little at that point.He approached his manager on the training field to say he wanted to renegoitiate his contract as LFC had been in touch with an offer of 80k pw. The club refused rightly do both morally and with hindsight good reasoning.
    2. Demba with no links to newcastle the city and a self styled football mercenary left nufc decided to leave again for gold.it has turned out well for him. Financially
    3. Yohan Cabaye well we know he went on strike twice so again not much sympathy there and ot hasn’t worked well for him.
    Question is where the real blame lies – SKY and the premier league not much Ashley Glazers kronke lewis any of them can do about it e.g. Bale Ronaldo pogba van persie Song.

  • LeazesEnder

    SimonM68 He would have sold Wor Jackie….and Shearer wouldn’t have been here,  I’m often asked why Newcastle fans put up with him.

  • geordie1976

    Good article. Lack of communication only breeds rumours, speculation and it will always become negative. Fans hang on in the hope that their team will rise to the heights of expectation… Like a dumped boyfriend being teased by their ex that there may still be a chance. 
    As long as there are 52000 hopefuls filling the stadium then Asheys business model succeeds. For him, he’s found a money tree… A never ending pot of cash coming from the fans who live and breath NUFC. 
    Like a drug dealer he’s found he can dilute his product yet still sell to the addicts for the same price. He is holding all the aces and things aren’t going to change until he moves on.

  • No Brainer

    grahame49 There was a good article on here a while back. A fella harked through the life and love of the local football team essentially as a young lad it fills your dreams, as a young adult its a fierce pride of your town. Getting on to the forties where continuing disappointment festers in to loathing of those performing your dreams to a standard much lower than you would have done. I guess most people on here are over forty

    A few weeks later I heard Man City fans booing the team off. The draw they had just got actually took them top. The people involved in football can’t win ever none of them.

  • magpie9

    His net spending is near enough zero, if he paid the going rate & showed some ambition maybe the players would want to stay

  • toonpete

    This is in my opinion one of, if not the best piece I have read on this site.
    More please Woody

  • toonpete

    magpie9  No-one wants to stay in the north east any longer than they have to, unless there northerners themselves i’m afraid to say. The bright-lights always wins in the end and once the money improves off they go.

  • Polarboy

    Ashley cuts us to the bone when he could easily show at least some ambition and still have the club on sure financial footing. I’m not saying anything that hasn’t already been said, but a bit more ambition and more competitive wages, and some of those players may not have agitated for a move and we certainly could have gotten the defensive and attacking reinforcements we have sorely needed for the last several years. It’s fine have a great scouting network but sometimes when the right player comes along you need to take your hand out of your pocket, even the greatest scouts can have hits and misses.

  • ourlad

    I fully understand your comments Phil and what Ashley has done. But what he hasn’t done for the club is to bring glory by means of silverware. As we are all aware his priority is the premiere league and not cup competitions. The team selections and supposed injuries speaks for itself. The quicker we get an owner who will give the manager total control of the team and the buy and sell the better. NUFC Is a sleeping giant waiting for that owner to step in and bring the foot soldiers glory and our City.

  • Alexh1984

    Scouting isn’t just for the over 21’s you know. In 7 years what’s been produced? Naive is thinking that Ashley’s policy of producing homegrown players is working.

  • Moonraker15

    Agree with the revenues and business done once the transfers were demanded. However you’ve missed the point as to why these guys wanted to leave. With more investment in players we could definitely get in CL; hence the players could achieve their ambitions at Newcastle! We’ve been there before!,

  • Moonraker15

    You’ve missed the point (although I agree, excellent business). More ambition and the players may want to stay at Newcastle. We’ve been in C L before!

  • No Brainer

    Scouting? The discussion point was youth policy. It is unfair to expect the youth policy to have delivered more than it currently has in the last seven years. Kids like Roberts and Armstrong with Barlaser and streete not far behind starting to make an impact in the squad it is surely showing promise. If one player from your youth scheme gets into your squad each year then by 15 years (career span) you will have 70% of your 25 man squad from that route.
    There is no that has that but the examples above show the club is making real strides in its development of youth local and from afar.

  • Tommy Lucchese

    Ashley’s big mistake was dennis wise and Tony whatshisface, who hilariously went into a court battle with each other when Tony took little den’s eyes out in some deal.
    If he hadn’t of employed them then who knows what path we would have taken but I don’t think we would be where we are today because ashley originally bought this club to have some fun, went into the away end at games, bought rounds of drinks, flashed his belly with Beefy from south shields, bought Alan smith and wore his shirt number 17.
    Then those two ripped it all apart with their stupidity and forced the best thing to happen to NUFC in my lifetime to leave. Ashley tried to get him back, failed and we have NEVER recovered that since. Yes there have been goodtimes but it has never been the same.

  • dav_art

    Tommy Lucchese   I agree Tommy.  These two oft forgotten numpties have a lot to answer for.

  • Alexh1984

    Are you not the one insinuating that only 14 year olds already here when Ashley arrived should be considered as academy products? I’m saying when you have a good youth set up you are bringing in players of all ages, 14,15,16,17 from different parts of the country. That’s scouting.
    The players you mention have been in the squad but certainly haven’t made an impact so far.
    Maybe those players will make the break but the previous 7 years has been full of players with promise who haven’t.

  • GToon

    Is the criticism over the top? Not really. It would take a tiny amount of his vast fortune to turn us into a great playing side or even to re-invest the money gained from player sales like Southampton do rather than pocket the money like he does. The criticism is very fair. The only people who defend him are the likes of the Jamies Redknapp and Carra but if it was their beloved Liverpool who were being run like a shop they’d be the first to be having a go at him. I can’t wait for him to decide he’s made enough money and just leave.

  • richard birs

    Great article.I to look on from afar,and believe much of the criticism of Ashley unfounded.Newcastle is a business he is a business man.Unlike many clubs were sound financialy,we’re heading in the right direction,better PR from on high would help.Sure he’s made a lot of mistakes,Havent we all?