For millions of people in the UK and certain other parts of Europe, there is only really one choice for sports equipment, and like it or not that is Sports Direct.
The reason for this is simple, it’s cheap.
(To feature like Notts Toon, send in your articles for our website to [email protected] – all views those of the author etc etc)
The aggressive pricing, huge range and almost total market domination has seen competitors driven out of business, others facing much reduced profits, all of them utterly defeated by the ‘stack em high, sell em cheap’ ethos of Mike Ashley’s retail empire.
The problem for Newcastle United is that this is the same way in which the club is being run, and it is the absolute antithesis of what is required to be successful in football.
Now, to quantify something which is obvious, there is a huge difference between footballing success and financial success.
Mike Ashley is being extremely successful in his running of the club if his aim, as was suggested by Sir John Hall, is to use the club solely as an advertising vehicle for Sports Direct, and every single fan, even those like me who do not give him a penny, are guilty of helping him by association.
There are degrees of complicity, and whilst I may not be actively involved in the handing over of my money, I am certainly guilty of making a noise (along with many others) and drawing attention to the plight of the club So if the old saying of ‘There’s no such thing as bad publicity’ holds true, then even we dissenters are working for the Sports Direct advertising machine.
What other choice do we have though?
Back to the running of the football club and it is plain to see that there was never any serious intention to bring in any genuine, proven quality to the squad. Players fitting this description cost serious money, in excess of £10m, and the club shows absolutely no intention of spending that sort of money and spending it the number of times required to make any meaningful improvement to the squad.
Even if the club signed a player such as the much linked Charlie Austin or Bas Dost today, it would not be enough, they would have to go and spend similar amounts another three or four times to make the improvement required to the first team which many feel was hinted at by the owner, and blatantly stated by the former temporary head coach. It won’t happen.
I have stated before that cost does not always equal value, but that is if you’re in a position to gamble on potential, which NUFC clearly are not.
We have gambled for years now on loans, cheap imports, youngsters, other clubs reserves and lower league players, where has that taken us?
Any time we have unearthed a good player they have been sold for profit, or left for pastures new, for a genuine chance of success and a pay packet more befitting of the industry.
Sure we can call them mercenaries if it makes us feel better, but the reality is that they are just looking for their worth in an inflated field of employment, wouldn’t we all do the same?
The sad truth is that words do not matter, potential is not realised and years of this insane policy has left a squad bloated with players who simply are not good enough. Riviere, Willo, Obertan, Gouffran and the list goes on and on.
Thanks to this policy we have squad places taken up by bodies who will never be Premier League footballers, and like Einstein’s theoretical definition of insanity, it looks as though the policy will continue unabated in the vain hope of uncovering another Cabaye, Debuchy or Carroll.
Unfortunately the market is now wise to this, and coupled with the poor name which the club now has in football, it seems that these ‘buy low, sell high’ bargains are a thing of the past.
The time has arrived when only serious and real investment will see the club’s fortunes improve, but seemingly the club has no intention of doing this, and instead those who found hope in the owner’s scripted interview will find scant comfort in his hollow words, as the chickens come home to roost for this once great institution.
Personally speaking, I will not shed a tear for either Mike Ashley or Newcastle United if next season goes the same as the last, or worse. I keep mentioning and remembering the statement made, containing the cryptic statement about the owner not selling until “at least Summer 2016”, a statement which I believe did not receive the attention it deserved.
I think that here we saw the true intentions for the club, to have one last suck on the Premier League teat before being discarded like an empty bottle.
What should stick in the throat of every single Newcastle United supporter is that we have allowed this to happen and will now and forever be seen as mug punters ripe for conquest.
We are as easily swayed by cheap and long-term season ticket deals as the customers of a pound shop reaching for a value four pack of baked beans.