Newcastle United have a battle against relegation, we all know that. Captain Coloccini has set an example by apologising to the supporters. It is sad that his motives are questioned after being at the club for 7 years.

Whilst the captain has been put in the firing line, he is not the cause of the problems. Starting a season with 3 senior central defenders was always going to be a recipe for disaster. Mbiwa did not have to be sent out on loan. A couple of seasons back we could have signed Douglas on a free but no, Ashley brought in Joe Kinnear.

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Having one fit recognised senior striker plus a French journeyman was also always going to be a recipe for disaster. Ba had been sold at a profit, Carroll had been sold at a profit, even Leon Best had been sold at a profit. Unwilling to lay out serious cash, Remy was only ever going to be here on loan. Ashley didn’t invest.

The problems run deeper, a journeyman manager was replaced by a journeyman assistant. The theme at the club has been to cut costs and generate profit. This is down to the person who should have a fraction of the decency and courage of his captain. Ashley owes an apology.

It is easy to sit on the sidelines and complain. This piece is an attempt to offer Ashley a constructive way forward. His football business is no closer to achieving his 5 year plan after 8 years at the helm. His idea of cutting corners results in a poor quality product that falls apart, both in football and in his other brands.

In order to put bums back on seats generating gate income, to increase commercial revenue from ethical sponsors, Ashley needs a product that is fit for purpose. Here is a simple 7 stage plan for you, Mr Ashley:

Step 1 – follow your captain’s example. It is fine for Charnley to say that mistakes have been made but be up front. Accept that those mistakes have been made by you. Take responsibility. 2 top 10 finishes in your 8 years is not good enough for one of the 20 richest clubs in the world. It is your stewardship that has led to underperformance.

Step 2 – communicate with your customer base. If you won’t do it, appoint a deputy who will. Local radio stations will willingly host a once monthly phone-in for whoever is appointed. Charnley himself acknowledged that communication must improve. If he hasn’t got the balls to do it, appoint someone who has.

Step 3 – appoint a football director who is accessible and who can provide support to a manager. There are people out there who it may even suit on a part-time basis. They can also help to establish a club philosophy, preferably in keeping with NUFC traditions of battling attacking football. Appointing someone like Keegan would make step 1, your apology, meaningful. The likes of Hoddle could be a compromise.

Step 4 – immediately appoint a progressive manager. We do not know what division we will be in at the moment but if relegated, you have Pardew’s compensation to play with. There are managers who have recent experience of the league; Karanka, Warburton, even Adkins who surpassed his predecessor at Southampton.

If top flight status is retained, then there are a host of other managers on the European stage who could fit the bill. The Premier League should be attractive to the very best and after all, your people did tell us that there were 80 credible applicants in January.

Step 5 – commit to having a quality squad. Given the playing philosophy outlined in step 3, it should not be hard to ensure that we have 3 decent goalkeepers and 2 players per position among the senior squad. Our poor run was arguably started when poor young Alnwick was asked to step up. It may be that a busy period did not allow for rotation of central defenders with Steve Taylor injured. A lack of goals could be down to Riviere being our only fit ‘striker’.

Yes, we know injuries happen. A hungry squad of Under 21s should provide further back up.

The squad must also have a blend that includes experience. Aside from Coloccini and Williamson, sometimes Jonas, sometimes Ryan Taylor have been the only over 30s to provide a mature head. We need balance.

Step 6 – invest. OK, the sale of Bale by Spurs distorts their figures, Burnley are a small club going back down, but them aside, Newcastle United has had the lowest net investment in the playing squad in the Premier League over the last 5 years. In fact, since selling Carroll you have a substantial surplus.

newcastle united

You clearly have plenty of cash in reserve. Investment is required in the summer, on top of any outgoing players. You still have over £10m surplus from last year’s increase in cash after raiding the bargain basement last summer. You should also generate a further cash surplus in excess of £40m this season. That is the minimum net spend that you should target to build a balanced squad.

Ok, it is acceptable that not every season should be the same but it seems reasonable to compete with clubs less rich than Newcastle United. You have your surplus, use it wisely. In future seasons it seems reasonable to commit a minimum of 15% of turnover or 50% of cash surplus in order to progress relative to competitors.

Step 7 – build in some safeguards. You seem to like performance related contracts. Your other business employs workers on zero hours contracts. If they do not work therefore do not produce, you do not pay them.

The same should apply to your customers. If they do not get what they pay for, they should not have to pay. A good brand will generate business. Anybody who advertises should pay an appropriate rate, including that shabby retail chain.

You should produce a season ticket deal that is performance related. If you do not meet commitments, if you do not meet targets, then build in a rebate scheme. If not in the top 10 after 19 games, refund 25% of the season ticket. If not in the top 10 at the end of the season, refund 50%. This should be retrospectively self funding since it will be down to your lack of squad investment.

You give your workers performance related pay. Is that too good for your customers, or are you a hypocrite?

There you have it, Mr Ashley, free advice and 7 simple steps. They may not be as attractive to you in the short term as the 7 deadly sins but in the medium will give you a platform to build your ethical commercial income from ethical sponsors.

You will have a marketable club with capital growth. Who knows, you may win a few friends on Tyneside too.

Rex also runs his own website (toontoon.co.uk) which you can visit HERE and you can follow him on Twitter @ToonToonCoUk



  • Michael Clarke

    Makes sense

  • A lex

    Good points, but apart from 1 and 7, the others are for a different owner. Ashley won’t do 2-6.
    People need to realise that, as far as Ashley is concerned, we’re doing fine and operating at ‘his’ optimum level. 
    Is this acceptable? No, so postings like this are just pi$$ing in the wind, I’m afraid. Get Ashley out, the we can have serious and constructive dialogue with a future owner.

  • LeazesEnder

    Take that Lee Ryder….. 

    ….we’ve got Seven Things never mind your piddly Five!

  • Jail for Ashley

    I’d much rather he just went, disappeared for good leaving us to get over the damage he’s done with a well intentioned owner,  somebody who can gladly advertise their product on our famous stadium, they don’t have to be a billionaire but they have to be somebody that cares about the club, the fans and the City !

  • NottsToon

    Point 1 is blatantly ridiculous.

  • RexN

    NottsToon You seem to get the point of the article.

  • NottsToon

    I get the point, but anything which suggests carrying with the current owner in power is doomed to failure. No true fan will ever trust him again, it has simply gone too far and he has done too much for that to happen. Removing Ashley is key, it is what must happen before we can even think about the future.

  • LINDSLEYCUP

    ASHLEY OUT ITS THE ONLY WAY HE WILL NEVER INVEST BUT I HAVE SAID FOR A WHILE HE WILL LEAVE A STING IN THE TAIL YOU CAN BE ASSURED OF THAT!!!!!!!

  • RexN

    LeazesEnder An absolutely priceless comment!

  • hettonmag

    Some good points Rex,  that would mean Cashley running the club in a professional  manner and that just aint going to happen.

  • terriertwo

    Why not just get seven new players in in the summer plus a new chairman with a football brain and not a pen pusher not forgetting a new manager and a complete change of coaching staff. Sorry that makes it twelve but who’s counting unless its fatty counting the pennies.

  • Andgeo

    1. Release goufran on a free.
    2. Release Williamson on a free
    3. Get a proper manager
    4. Buy 3 central defenders who are ‘fit’ to play in the premier. (1 for back up)
    5. Don’t sell any more players.
    6. Buy 2 centre forwards who are ‘fit’ to play in the premier.
    7. Appropriately remunerate NUFC for all your Free tat shop advertising, and back date this 8 years providing the new manager with at least £160m to build a proper squad.

  • Chris Moore

    7pts seems ambitious at the minute! ;)

  • Ashley sell up and get rid of his muppets. A new proper manager and staff. A proper boardroom and members. a big clearout of cheap foreign players and 2 news player in every position.

  • StephenBowers

    If Newcastle United are just a free billboard for Sports Direct ( and I don’t disagree) surly the message being generated currently can only be negative.
    Defeat after defeat, poor Managment, the cheapest option every time, terrible communication,possible relegation or at best lowly finish in the league. It’s not exactly putting a positive spin on The Sports Direct Image.
    Cheap tat, shop ditto football club.

  • Porciestreet

    RexN A lex 
    Why should he be allowed to surrender………? What options were we as a club and it’s fans given when he drove his f*****g steam roller onto the pitch to announce his arrival.  The man is a complete PIG and deserves absolutely NOTHING from the fans. A well placed 7.62 is too good for this man.

  • PeterS84

    how about just an apology from Ashley, that would be a start