Poor old Lee Charnley, he’s getting it right in the neck over signing players isn’t he.

Or rather, that should be…NOT signing players.

(To feature like Dean, send in your articles for our website to [email protected] – all views those of the author etc etc)

As Mike Ashley said in his now (in)famous address to the Geordie nation in response to this question;

What about appointments of managers and so on (signing players)?

“It is Lee Charnley and the football board that make those decisions, as it was Derek Llambias who brought in Alan Pardew. I will not be picking the next manager – it is not what I do.

“My job is to make sure that they have the maximum financial resources and it is their job to get the best pound for pound value out of those resources.”

So Mike Ashley just sends up a sack of cash and lets Lee Charnley get on with spending it. Do you honestly believe that?

I hear you shout, ‘Yes but Lee Charnley is the Managing Director, he’s in charge of the club and makes the decisions on a daily basis’.

Well I’m sure he does do when it comes to how many paper clips Newcastle are going to order in, or what colour to paint the bogs in the Gallowgate End, but do you really think Newcastle appoint managers and pay millions of pounds (or not as the case may be) on players without Mike Ashley dictating what the final outcome of the process is?

At times it may not be Ashley (in person) himself, it may well be one of his trusted inner circle who help him run his business empire, but it sure isn’t Lee Charnley or anybody else inside St James Park making those big decisions.

At normal clubs, they will have a board of directors who will meet and decide the overall strategy and budgets, including the transfer policy.

Then they will have a football board who will meet more regularly, and it may contain some of the same people as that overseeing board making the broader decisions on policy/strategy, but they will run the club on a day to day week to week basis – making the decisions as to how that strategy/policy is implemented and exactly how and where the budgets are spent.

signing players

At Newcastle we had one ‘board’ containing Ashley and two members of staff, Finance Director John Irving and MD Lee Charnley, which was no doubt purely to satisfy the legal requirement (as a company) to have a board of at least two directors.

Now we have a newly revamped  ‘board’ where they have basically scooped up all the remaining senior staff (Charnley, McClaren and Graham Carr) and added wildcard Bobby Moncur, whose real role appears to be spokesman (apologist) for the club’s actions/inactions, whilst masquerading as a normal fan rather than a paid employee.

The bottom line is that Mike Ashley, as he does with all aspects of the club, wants to distance himself from the (usually unpopular) decisions that are made.

He needs people prepared to take on the role of fall guys and that is what their main role is. This means we don’t end up with the very best available people who could do the various jobs, instead we end up with those who are willing to do as they are told without complaint – in return for jobs that they otherwise would never have been considered for at equivalent sized clubs.

Step forward Alan Pardew, Derek Llambias, John Carver, Joe Kinnear and…Lee Charnley.

Do you really think that it is Lee Charnley’s fault that Newcastle are not signing players so far? Do you really think it is a club employee to blame, rather than simply following orders from Mike Ashley?

Look back at summer 2012, Newcastle had made a massive surprise breakthrough by finishing fifth and fans were on a real high. There was real belief, surely now Mike Ashley would use this opportunity to really push on.

We bought Vurnon Anita.

Yes, instead there was a clearout with the likes of Alan Smith, Danny Guthrie and Peter Lovenkrands all allowed to leave, with Fraser Forster and Leon Best sold. Only one senior player bought, Vurnon Anita, and the transfer fees and saved wages meaning Mike Ashley actually came out in front in that transfer window which could have potentially really pushed the club on. The squad was actually weakened and Ashley gave away a future England goalkeeper for a pittance.

Do you think it was Derek Llambias who decided not to replace those players? Do you really believe that it was him who decided to make a profit in the transfer market and/or failed to get the deals done on incoming players?

signing players

If you have any doubt as to who really makes the decisions, rather than the minions, just look at what happened only five months later.

With Mike Ashley realising he’d left the club precariously in danger of relegation, he allowed Newcastle to buy five players in the space of a few weeks. Do you honestly think that it was Derek Llambias who can take the credit for those signings, as well as the blame for United leaving themselves short in that summer of 2012?

The reality of course is that there is no secret to transfer deals, if you offer enough money in terms of wages and transfer fee then you can sign the player – if you are shopping at the right level for your particular club.

That is why Moussa Sissoko, Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa and Mathieu Debuchy signed – offers were put on the table that meant the deals were done.

Which brings us to our main exhibit.

Step forward Joe Kinnear, good old JFK.

Announcing his own arrival live on radio hours after Mike Ashley allegedly appointed him in the pub over a ”few’ drinks, Diector of Football Joe Kinnear became our signing players guru.

June 2013 he landed the job and February 3 2014 he ‘resigned’.

(In)Famously, Newcastle United failed to buy a single player in a whole year, the two transfer windows whilst Joe Kinnear was in charge of ‘signing players’.

A bit like Lee Charnley, but even more savagely, JFK was mercilessly ridiculed. With even media claims that he had wanted to buy Shane Ferguson from Birmingham, until (as the story goes) he was supposedly informed that the winger/full-back was actually already a Newcastle player.

How we laughed.

signing players

Of course, that period whilst JFK was here, was also another massive opportunity wasted. Once again, somehow, Newcastle ended up in fifth place mid-season, only to then sell our best player, Yohan Cabaye, in the January and buy nobody. Leading to a second half collapse that was almost a carbon copy of our most recent John Carver one.

Bit of a coincidence don’t you think,  that Joe Kinnear packed his bags as soon as Sky Sports announced that January 2014 transfer window had slammed shut.

Job done – attract as much of the blame, flak and ridicule as possible, then quietly slip away with your pockets bulging with cash. Job’s a goon un.

If Mike Ashley had wanted Newcastle to sign players in that period, do you really honestly think that he would have stood back and let JFK cock it all up?

Which brings us back once again to Lee Charnley.

Hiding under his desk as the ridicule flies from every direction. Even being spotted watching England playing cricket at Durham last weekend brought him endless stick.

‘What was the idiot up to sitting in the rain waiting for the cricket to start up again, when he should be hitting the phones and the road, dynamically signing up Charlie Austin, Saido Berahino and/or the other similar credible signings Newcastle need to avoid another relegation struggle’.

Can you blame Lee Charnley for taking the job? Can you blame Newcastle fans for pointing the finger at him when days and weeks go by with the club seemingly not addressing the massive problems facing the club?

The answer on both counts is no. Lee Charnley taking Mike Ashley’s money to be his latest fall guy means that he is accepting of what he must know comes next in terms of stick from supporters.

It is Mike Ashley to blame for no signing as yet and it will be the same if the rest of the transfer window proves to be catastrophic.

Just like you will have to give the club owner a certain amount of credit if he finally bites the bullet and does what it takes to bring in the credible players that Newcastle need to start rebuilding, rather than terrible decisions such as trying to address a desperate striker shortage by bringing in a budget buy such as Emmanuel Riviere.

Spending what it needs won’t automatically equal success. but not spending what it needs, will almost certainly guarantee failure.

Remember kids, it is Mike Ashley who will decide if Newcastle United are signing players this summer, not those carrying out his orders.



  • Paul Forth

    That’s why he’s got a board so he thinks us fans will think its them to blame and not him, got to remember he’s the puppetteer

  • Rowla

    Hear hear. It shouldn’t stop us giving Charnley hell though.

  • DavidDrape

    spot on

  • Pedrothegreat

    Listen I am no Mike Ashley fan, I think he is a everything we say he is, and a total abomination for the sport of football, simply because he is a ruthless business man, and not a football guy, as long as the books are ok everything is ok in his eyes, as long as there is profit he is happy. But to have a say in transfers, and footballing things, quite simply put, I think he cannot be bothered, he is more preoccupied with his other business to give a toss what happens to the club, I doubt very much Mike Ashley gets out of bed in the morning and the first thing on his agenda is Newcastle United and who we should/should not sign. Charnley is obviously his glorified accountant, and Carr is our football man, all following orders from each other, the club is ran in such a way the buck lies with no one, because no one will stand up and take the responsibility of admitting mistakes, Ashley did it at the end of the season, and he promised “punching above our weight”, lets see what excuses are made if we fail next season and who will take the blame this time around .

  • killyted

    everyone who has any interest in NUFC will understand that charnley is the gofa.the boy has no football background at all.Is this another cashley ploy of taking thePPPPPP not looking good

  • toon tony

    Don’t forget in his now “infamous ” speech when asked where does the blame lie. …..”AT MY DOOR “.

  • mirandinha9

    I’m feeling satisfied that most fans on forums can see Cashley’s tosh for what it was. All he wants is the season ticket money and despite some who will cave in, I get the positive feeling that the climate is changing. Perhaps we can get rid of him after all. As for Charnley, well what can you say? Someone made a great point today by saying how Keegan and Sir Bobby would woo players into signing for the Toon. How would a top class player if Charnley approached them today? Would they come running to Tyneside or go running the other way?

  • fireflyuk

    toon tony Yes but that was in the past, he has relinquished any responsibility by stepping down off the board. So he can now claim in his next tv interview (in 8 years time) that it wasn’t his fault that we got relegated to the conference.

  • Andgeo

    Charnley out! Ashley out!

  • v0ices

    Pedrothegreat ask anyone who knows him mike ashley likes to control everything he can. i am sure he has no interest in small day to day things but policy will be set by him and him only.

  • NottsToon

    Charmless is just the latest PR shield used by the sensitive billionaire, after Llambias, Wise, Kinnear etc…

    The bloke is just a front without power, Ashley is firmly holding onto the reigns and anyone who believes otherwise needs to give themselves a shake.

  • Ballbearing

    What a brilliant article by Dean Wilkins! He’s said it all, and it’s searing endorsement of how this once-great club has been trampled in the mud by one man and his minions. The sad thing is these people are here to stay……….

  • DownUnderMag

    Bottom line is you just don’t know who or what you can trust at this club anymore.  I’ve said before, there’s still plenty fo time left, the window isn’t even open yet, but I just hope Ashley knows what sort of a backlash he is in for should we fail to do enough and end up in a relegation scrap!

  • Timptoon

    I don’t think there’s anyone who doesn’t hold Ashley ultimately accountable for selling the very soul of this once great club and no doubt there is a special circle of hell just waiting for him. This does not make me feel any more well-disposed to the lick-spittles like Charnley and Carr who take the money and never speak out. If they have something to say they should say it. If they don’t like the restrictions they should walk. As long as they hold their positions at the club they, too, should be held accountable for years of failure.

  • Jarra MIck

    I appreciate the sentiment but I think the modern footballer is above wooing, it’s cold hard cash that counts, filthy Luca is all you need to woo any footballer. As I say time and time again a more despicable bunch of people you couldn’t hope to meet. Top class footballer = rotten Cnut.