The 2015/16 Premier League wage bills make interesting reading….
The headlines of the Newcastle United accounts were released on Thursday (6 April 2017) morning and the club were keen to emphasise both how much had been spent on transfer fees and how big the wage bill was.
The club announcing the Newcastle United accounts headlines Thursday 7 April:
‘The significant increase in the wages to turnover ratio, up to 59.4 per cent from 50.1 per cent in 2015, again reflects the spend on the squad, combined with the change in first team management personnel in March 2016.’
This sentence above suggests that when the full accounts are published, the cost of sacking Steve McClaren and his coaching staff will be a significant figure as part of that wage bill.
Only minutes before these NUFC accounts headlines were announced, the very well respected Swiss Ramble (a Swiss based English bloke who collates information and writes great pieces on the business of football) had published a number of tables giving information about the relative performances of Premier League clubs last season, in financial terms.
Newcastle United were one of a small number of clubs who at that point still hadn’t made public any financial figures for last season.
This is his (Swiss Ramble’s) table of Premier League wage bills last season:
As I said above, Newcastle United are always keen to tell us just how much the club are spending and how fans should be grateful for Mike Ashley’s presence, which was very much the theme when announcing yesterday’s accounts information.
Most of the text (see HERE) being about how the owner has ‘saved’ us after the relegation, even though the accounts they published were for last season in the Premier League, not this season’s reduced circumstances in the Championship!
The media happy to just repeat the club message which was being grateful to Mike Ashley, rather than the disastrous accounts for last season, which saw the club somehow managing to reduce their turnover under Ashley’s disastrous running of the club, with clearly no improvement on commercial and matchday revenue, NUFC now being pretty much totally reliant on any rise or fall in TV income.
Back to the 2015/16 Premier League wage bills and last season Newcastle’s wage bill was £74.7m.
Just look at where it puts us in the table of spending on players’ salaries.
What it tells us is that at the most, only five clubs had lower wage bills, with Newcastle on a par with West Brom in joint 14th/15th.
The message from Newcastle United is always telling us how ambitious the club is but the reality is that when you look at the bigger picture we aren’t – plus this is without even taking into account what has happened since these latest published accounts and dropping to the second tier etc.
These accounts and wage bill are after years of supposed progress in the Premier League at the club.
In the accounts info published yesterday, this quote was attributed to Lee Charnley:
“Significant sums of money were spent to strengthen the playing squad in the summer 2015 and January 2016 windows, which also resulted in an increase in our annual wage bill. In the context of this spend, relegation was both unacceptable and totally unexpected.”
The reality is that relegation was not ‘totally unexpected’, the club had been run into the ground by Mike Ashley with many transfer windows of no signings or minimal spending on players, plus slashing the wage bill.
The 2014/15 season saw Newcastle only survive on the last day against West Ham, we had hit almost rock bottom. Spending relatively big on inexperienced players (20 year old Mitro and Mbemba, 22 year old Thauvin) from weak overseas leagues was never going to see a surefire recovery.
If you count the ability of your team by how much they are paid, then the table above tells you that Newcastle were in the bottom six or seven or best, so arguably almost guaranteed a relegation fight, unless the players proved better than what their salaries suggest.
Just look at the clubs above with higher wage bills: Palace, Stoke, Southampton, Villa, Leicester, West Ham, Everton…all teams that we would hope/expect to be doing better than, both on and off the pitch.
Anybody who thinks that heading back into the Premier League will be some kind of cure all simply because NUFC will be getting Premier League TV money is crazy.
Unless the whole club starts to be run on a proper professional and ambitious level to match that of Rafa Benitez on the playing /coaching side, we stand almost no chance.
The revenues flowing into the club should be far higher and they need as good a professional team to run matters away from the football side, as Rafa does on the pitch.
The only positives with revenue is after this accounting period Newcastle got really lucky with the £55m or so that Spurs and Liverpool were willing to hand over for Sissoko and Wijnaldum. We can’t count on money falling out of the sky like that any time soon.
Rafa Benitez needs major backing this summer if/when Newcastle return to the Premier League, that first season needs Mike Ashley to really push the boat out to prevent what could very likely be another major disaster.
The overall tone though of yesterday’s accounts release appeared to be preparing the ground for lower available resources than fans/Rafa would have been expecting this summer.
I hope I’m wrong.