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Mike Ashley remarkably cuts wage bill and getting close to transfer window profit

3 years ago

It seems an awful long time ago when it was declared that Mike Ashley had persuaded Rafa Benitez to stay after relegation, by allegedly guaranteeing the manager a transfer budget plus whatever he made from selling players.

That was 15 months ago and it was widely reported that the guaranteed budget was £20m as well as the player sales.

In April, Newcastle United confirmed that Rafa Benitez had produced a £40m surplus on his transfer activity in summer 2016, yet in the January 2017 window, the manager lined up a number of deals only for Mike Ashley to block even loan signings coming in.

Rafa Benitez made clear his anger and frustration, and along with the fans he dusted himself down and got on with the job of promotion, confident in the knowledge that surely this would only mean more money to spend this summer (2017) once promotion was confirmed.

Only days after the title was won with the final match of the season, a statement was released by the club (effectively) confirming that Rafa was staying and Mike Ashley quoted as saying that the manager would be backed with ‘every penny’ possible, including money generated through transfers.

As it stands now (2pm on deadline day), Newcastle United have (including loan deals) moved 14 players out and brought in six.



Christian Atsu, Florian Lejeune, Jacob Murphy, Javier Manquillo, Joselu


Mikel Merino (loan)



Florian Thauvin, Kevin Mbabu, Daryl Murphy, Emmanuel Riviere, Siem De Jong, Grant Hanley

Loaned out

Adam Armstrong, Matz Sels, Ivan Toney


Vurnon Anita, Sammy Ameobi, Yoan Gouffran, Haris Vuckic, Lubo Satka

This activity on transfers has led to Newcastle spending £36.2m and recouping £24.7m (according to respected sports finance specialists Sporting Intelligence), meaning a net spend of only £11.5m.

So as it stands, Rafa Benitez has created a transfer profit of £28.5m in his time at Newcastle United.

It could get even better for Mike Ashley though, as the likes of  Tim Krul, Jack Colback, Massadio Haidara and Achraaf Lazaar could all land new clubs today, Krul is reported by Sky Sports to be on his way to Brighton for a medical, whilst Lazaar could still sign for Serie A side Benevento, Hull claimed to be interested in Colback and French clubs willing to take Haidara if he drops his wage demands.

No sign of incoming signings at the minute as it is claimed Newcastle wouldn’t pay the loan fee Southampton wanted for third choice left-back Matt Targett, plus other supposed targets such as Lucas Perez seemingly going elsewhere.

Newcastle are reported to have turned down Fulham’s £15m bid for Dwight Gayle BUT what if they (or somebody else) come in with a higher offer…

Various journalists have claimed Gayle could only depart IF Rafa could land a replacement striker.

In that scenario of Newcastle agreeing to sell Gayle for something more than £15m and a new striker arriving in his place, Mike Ashley could actually move into profit in this transfer window if any loan fee payable was £4m or less.

Who would have thought it…

By my reckoning as well, Newcastle/Mike Ashley must already have managed the remarkable (though not exactly ambitious…) feat of now having a lower wage bill than when in the Championship last season.

Newcastle have already got off the wage bill first team squad players such as Anita, Gouffran, Hanley, Sels, Daryl Murphy, and Sammy Ameobi. In addition last season they were paying part of the wages of Krul, de Jong, Riviere, and Thauvin, when they were out on loan last year.

With Atsu on the wage bill last season, Newcastle have only added Jacob Murphy, Lejeune, Merino, Manquillo and Joselu to the wage bill, none of them on massive money.

When you then factor in that Mike Ashley cut the wage bill when dropping into the Championship last summer (amongst the many leaving were Coloccini, Steven Taylor, Marveaux, Obertan, Townsend, Sissoko, Wijnaldum, Cabella, Bigirimana, Janmaat – and then Tiote in February 2017), the wage bill as it stands now must be significantly lower than when the club were relegated.

This is astounding, as pretty much every other club will be seeing their wage bills heading very much upwards.

Is cutting the wage bill on promotion and having no/minimal net spend really a recipe for success when stepping up into the Premier League…?

(All contributions from Newcastle fans welcome, send articles (as well as ideas/suggestions) to [email protected])


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