Sir John Hall has been having his say about Mike Ashley potentially selling Newcastle United.
The former majority shareholder says that if he was ‘coming into football now’ he would ‘jump at the chance of taking control of Newcastle…such an attractive proposition’.
Sir John Hall believes that new owners could turn Newcastle United into a club with a similar value as the top half dozen at the minute, if they get things right.
Hall talks about Manchester United worth more than a billion and the other top clubs being in and around that £billion figure, with the right investment a buyer could do the same at St James Park he believes.
One comment does amuse me though, when Sir John Hall says ‘People coming into football now are usually only in it for the money’.
It is ironic because nobody has made more money than Sir John Hall out of Newcastle United, in salaries for the Hall family, dividends, and then the eventual selling of the club.
There were some great years as Freddie Fletcher was recruited to run the business side and he then in turn was the one who brought Kevin Keegan to St James Park.
However, things turned sour when it became clear there was a long-term plan to cash in massively on their initial investment, starting with Keegan forced out as he refused to sell players such as Les Ferdinand. Kenny Dalglish brought in as manager who was prepared to sell key players, meaning Newcastle entered the Champion League with ageing free agents such as Barnes, Rush and Pearce as replacements.
There was then the partial flotation of the club and eventual sale to Mike Ashley (after other previous deals fell through), delivering us into the hands of whoever first put up the money.
Which 10 years later, leads us to this point after a decade of sheer chaos…
Sir John Hall talking to The Sun:
“If I was coming into football now, I would jump at the chance of taking control of Newcastle.
“It is such an attractive proposition. Newcastle have a tradition and a heritage but they also have a potential that has not been fully realised.
“In the recent past we have always been the bridesmaid rather than the bride and new owners can change that — if they are prepared to invest.
“It seems that Mike Ashley wants about £350million. But if you are going to extend the stadium, then you need to think about the millions that will cost and you will also have to put in money for players.
“Manchester United are now worth more than a billion and the rest of the top five or six must be worth £600m to a billion.
“Newcastle have the potential to move up to that level.
“But you have to stay with it because it will take a good few years to compete with the top clubs. You are talking about a five-year period.
“I really thought that under Ashley, United would win a trophy but it wasn’t to be. When he fell out with the fans, that spoilt things.
“The club mean the world to me. Things have changed out of all recognition since owners like me, Jack Walker and Dave Whelan — local millionaires who stood on the terraces as boys, built up our businesses and put money back in.
“People coming into football now are usually only in it for the money.
“But investors will be businessmen who take a gamble — and I think Newcastle is a deal that is bound to pay dividends on and off the field.”