My last article on The Mag asked the Newcastle United supporters to consider buying the football club off Mike Ashley. Why not club together and between the 150,000 fanatics, surely we could invest ourselves in the club?

Well, as soon as the ink was dry, things changed and in came interest from Amanda Staveley and the article was almost irrelevant.

In the early days of the transfer window, it was claimed that our illustrious owner and the prospective new owner have got their heads together and given Rafa a budget. This article may again become irrelevant again as we’ve purchased a new squad in time for Swansea at home…

Now, there has been much said on Newcastle United’s lack of transfer activity.

The lazy argument is because Mike Ashley is fat, greedy, has drunken conversations with fireplaces, or a combination of all three. Although I’d argue that Mike Ashley does not HAVE to continually put money into the club, I have wondered why he risks leaving the club under-powered when he’s already suffered financially by seeing the club relegated in the past.

It’s often pointed out in these Mag articles that fellow promoted clubs Huddersfield and Brighton have spent more than ourselves once promoted and the question is why these little clubs did everything to try and build on their momentum with higher net spends than Rafa in the summer.

The answer is perhaps in the Premier League regulations which were introduced in recent years, here’s a cut and paste of the relevant rules:

E.18. If in a Contract Year 2017/18, the sum of a Club’s Player Services Costs and Image Contract Payments exceeds £74m, the relevant Club must elect to either: (a) be assessed by the Board on the ‘Prior Year Basis’ (in which case, Rule E.19 applies); or (b) be assessed by the board on the ‘2012/13 Base Year Basis’ (in which case, Rule E.20 applies).

E.19.1. that the sum of the Club’s Player Services Costs and Image Contract Payments has not increased by more than £7m when compared to the previous Contract Year.

Basically, this means that in 2017/18, all clubs are free to pay total wages of up to £74m. Should the total wages exceed £74m, this figure must not be more than £7m more than the club spent in the previous year or not more than £26m over that spent by the club in 2012/13.

There are other income streams  allowed to be bought into the mix (ED: The Premier League wage rules only apply to TV money, so cash from Matchday and Commercial revenues can be used on increased wages, such as the money FUN88 are paying as main sponsor, as well as sleeve sponsor MRF) but for reasons of brevity, I’ll keep this explanation to work just within these rules. I’ve also used figures from the club’s 2016 accounts as the basis for this article, this is because these are the figures that are universally available.

Last season, visiting fans would make much of the fact our squad was worth more than every other club. Our wage bill was also far bigger than any rival, this may have been fun last year but it hampers us this season. We have the fellow promoted clubs in Brighton who had a wage bill of somewhere around £30m and then Huddersfield’s which was far lower. Both these clubs, under Premier League rules are able to increase their wage bill significantly up to £74m without recourse.  Not so good for Newcastle United.

At the end of the 2016 season, we were able to trim a couple of wages off the payroll when we went down, Wijnaldum was on a reported £4m a year and Townsend £3.5m but didn’t move a lot of big earners (ED: Newcastle actually cleared a lot of big earners out of the club in summer 2016, with Sissoko, Wijnaldum, Coloccini, Townsend, Steven Taylor, Obertan, Marveaux, Cisse, Janmaat all leaving permanently, whilst de Jong, Thauvin, Krul, Saivet and Riviere went out on loan) and added a number of decent wage earners to the pot, so our wage in 2017 was unlikely to be a lot less (ED: Debatable) than the £74m we paid out in 2016.

Under Premier League rules, we can pay wages up to £81m in 2017/18 which restricts us to around £14m extra in this season. Given an average premier league player costs £3m in wages, that’s five average players at best when Huddersfield could spend £63m.

Mike Ashley may still be a fat so and so but this does give an indication as to what we are up against, moreover, why we may not be adding to the squad as readily as we’d like. It may also explain why we might just be a little more active in January than the summer as the additional wages would be payable for just six months and there are two chances of getting rid of the big earners Rafa does not rate, speaking of which, it explains why players like Mitrovic, Colback and Saivet have found themselves not just 2nd/3rd choice but forced out in the cold.

Additionally, a look at the table below suggests just why certain clubs like Chelsea could not spend last summer in comparison to Man City:

premier league

(*Some figures are sourced from the Guardian so don’t blame me if they are wrong.)

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  • Rich Lawson

    Good read Bobbi.

    • Charlie Dickens

      With an estimated 14 million to spare between now and the end of the season (according to the author) and the possibility of Mitro and Mbemba leaving, as well as the reality of not buying anybody between now and the end of the window, and the fact that we desperately need a striker and a number 10, I don’t think it’s a huge factor, and certainly shouldn’t preclude us from brining in actual quality, but this article is interesting nonetheless (not said in jest).

      • Damon Horner

        It would give rational reasoning to let Shelvey go as well, assuming there is a bid in from West Ham.

        There are no guarantees we can sell the players that the club want to sell so if an offer does come in for a top earner they might be considering it.

        • Leazes

          I have a theory that people who don’t like Shelvey watch the game from the sides rather than from behind the goal where you can see his distribution and reading of the game a lot differently…. the TV of course gives several views but only after an incident and not usually in general play.

          Shelvey has many good qualities which outweigh the bad. It was noted by away fans that Shelvey makes things happen has good vision and exceptional passing skills….

          …I would sooner adopt a policy of selling our poorer players than the better ones, which unfortunately hasn’t been the way with this club for my lifetime.

          Ryder watches from the side.

          • mentalman

            it doesn’t matter how well shelvey plays, rafa doesn’t seem to have much faith in him so there’s not much point keeping him to make up numbers

          • Leazes

            Rafa is playing so deep that when Shelvey gets the ball there’s usually nobody forward of him to play it to….

            Any replacement is going to be average….. judging by the restraints that ‘must be obeyed’.

          • Nut

            Your completely correct that watching things from multiple viewing angles can effect how someone might read the game.

            Personally I rate Shelvey as a player but his temperament leaves a lot to be desired and the same with Mitrovic.

            Rafa doesn’t seem to have much time anymore for players who are hot headed.

            It’s a shame though as it’s these types of players who can sometimes help to give a team a bit of backbone. (Think Roy Keene, Eric Cantona etc)

            Personally I wish Rafa would give both these players a concerted go in the team however I equally wish they would sort themselves out mentally.

            Since neither is likely to happen then perhaps it would be best to sell both on.

            But not before we bring in.

          • S.G.M.

            First consideration when selling is, do they want to go, not are they good enough to stay.

          • Damon Horner

            It depends on what the viewer wants to see in a player.

            Personally I think his passing execution and vision is nearer the top of the league but if that’s the case then why has he spent most of his career outside of the elite?

            It’s the off-the-ball stuff, desire to work hard, pace across the ground, effective tackling and plainly overall fitness.

            His good might outweigh the bad if the team he plays for actually wants the ball.

    • Oooh bobbi fleckman

      The way around that may be for the lending club to continue paying wages but inflate the loan fee they charge. i.e. Liverpool can lend us Danial Sturridge and pay the 3m odd that his wage costs yet we pay a loan fee for this amount although this may seem an obvious loophole that is closed elsewhere in the rules.

  • Damon Horner

    So if we elected to be assessed by Rule E.20. Would that not mean our wages can be as high as £88mil p/a and therefore able to increase by £14mil for the year? That should be around £250,000 per week increase collectively.

    • Oooh bobbi fleckman

      Yes, however, it illustrates how Huddersfield and Brighton don’t have the contraints we’ve had. Also note these are based on 2016 figures and although 2 big earners were off the books, we added a lot of bodies in 2016/17.

      • Damon Horner

        Without doubt they’d have had more freedom. Do you still think the 2017 wage costs would exceed the 2016 wage cost? Still doesn’t feel like we should be handicapped too badly.

        • Clarko

          It has been claimed the wage bill before the start of this season/during the Championship was “£97m”.

          • Damon Horner

            That’s totally crazy if it’s true.

          • Clarko

            We had a big squad when everyone returned from loan in the summer, say around 40, that’s ~£2.4m per year, per player on average, that’s £46k per week, per player on average and that’s without considering the £4m wage that Benitez picks up or the rest of the coaching staff, scouts, youth staff and players and executives. Crazy number, but plausible.

            The crazy part is that people on here will have you believe that Ashley is greedy and refuses to financially back the club. Terrible owner, only forking out £97m a year on wages, pshhh!

          • Damon Horner

            That average wage for that many staff looks a little dubious. The accounts would complete the picture though.

            I’d still have questions for Ashley about the running of the club also but I don’t share some of the conspiracy theories others have.

          • Clarko

            How does that average wage look dubious? 46k per week, on average for each player, without taking into account other staff members, which would drive the average down? According to global sports salaries survey the average wage for a current Newcastle player is £32,888.

            Questions are fine, as long as they’re the right questions, money shouldn’t be one of them.

          • Damon Horner

            Read that the average PL wage is £50,000 so an overall average of £46,000 would put us comparable to teams at the top who pay massive salaries like £200k+ a week.

          • Clarko

            Dude, that doesn’t make sense. It just doesn’t.

            You find an average wage, lower than £46,000 per week, dubious, because the average PL wage is £50,000.

            You know what “average PL wage is £50,000” means right? All 20 teams. Meaning not just the 4 teams at the top.

          • GToon

            Does it come out of his pocket?

          • Clarko


  • TheNutJob

    Let`s see what Clarko comes up with

  • Peaky Magpie

    If the police are investigating the transfer of Barkley to Chelsea will they be bringing back the death penalty for whoever sanctioned the purchase of Hoss ???

  • kingfisher

    Excellent post Bobbi. I’ve never been a fan of loan deals, however with the potential takeover in the background, and possible new owners coming in with their own ideas (and hopefully of course a much improved budget for the summer transfer window and beyond), loan deals may be the way forward. Even if we have to pay exorbitant wages for a few months but we maintain our Premier League status, I would suggest that’s the better option.Then if/when we are taken over, the new owners can start from scratch !

    • Oooh bobbi fleckman

      Remember, only two loan deal are allowed between EPL teams at any one time. I don;t think we have a great deal of wriggle room.

      • kingfisher

        Good point Bobbi !

      • HTL

        That is true, But what is the limit on loaning players from abroad?

        • Oooh bobbi fleckman

          I believe there is no limit loans from other FA’s

    • Leazes

      What takeover?

      • kingfisher

        The longer this situation goes on, the more I worry that it’s not going to happen. As you say, it could be a P.R stunt, however I’m clinging on to the hope that being a business man and wanting to make money, he should be prepared to speculate to accumulate to protect his investment. But there have been so many broken promises from Ashley that I wouldn’t put anything past him. There’s nothing wrong with someone making a profit from a business venture, but when his penny pinching ways are to the detriment of not only the N.U.F.C brand but also the thousands of supporters of that brand, then he really does not have one ounce of decency in him !

    • Mike

      ha ha sorry mate Santa has left the building

      • kingfisher

        I suspect you could be right Mike. 👍

  • Leazes

    So all the rumours that the Chronicle are printing about supposed signings are lies… and all of the media come to that…. nothing new.

    See David when you apply yourself you can have a use… even if it is still making excuses for the regime which has done its darndest to put us in to the very position that the club by its own failings has to constrain its own spending!

    ….’Not my fault we wuz relegated guv I’m only the Chairman and doing what I was told by the owner.

    …. The initial underfunding was deliberate, Ashley and Chanley have Manquillo-ed the club….

    Benitez must know the constraints……so why is he still here? Why the silence from the club….. are they really dependent on a trans-gender tory wum fleckman to get their message out? Why did they downsize in the first place if they knew the rules.

    I said at the time we were relegated that we should be building for the premiership not filling the ranks with Championship players that we would have to ship out again….

    …..and didn’t!

    A club regime where catastrophe is self inflicted.

    • mentalman

      most people who can see beyond us having rafa as manager knew it was a mistake buying so many championship level players who weren’t good enough for the premier league

      • Leazes

        Bit like putting Lewis Hamilton in a Fiat Panda….. you don’t need a manager of this quality to run a championship squad.

  • Clarko

    Great article.

  • Paul Patterson

    I find it funny when people say that Brighton and Huddersfield spent more in the summer than we did.
    Even funnier when you look at the table as it hasn’t got them much safer than we are..

  • Monkseaton Magpies

    Yes great article which explains a lot. However the starting point of 2013 means that clubs will never be able to compete with Man City so there should be new rules reducing their wage bill say £20m a season to bring them inline or there will forever be a gap. Pointless having the £74m cap when Man City have treble the wages of this figure.

    • GToon

      Exactly. The horse has bolted on this issue I would say.

  • S.G.M.

    Ross Barkley to Chelsea for £15mil. Berkley’s agent pockets 7 million. Someone is going to have to explain that one to me.
    But I perfectly understand Ashleys refusal to play ball if this is the way transfers are successfully completed.

  • HTL

    Nice try Bobbi on trying to shift the blame to anyone but Ashley.

    Even if the above figures are correct (Have you factored in the big earners leaving at the end of the 2016 season?), that still allows us to increase wages by just under £270,000 per week. which would allow 2 Daniel Sturridge’s (120,000 p/w x 2 for a full 12 months) and still leave 30,000 pounds a week surplus.
    If the £14 million was the allowed increase for a year/full season we could have 4 Daniel Sturridge’s till the end of the season (120,000 x4) and still have above a million left in extra capacity (for the rest of the season), as we would only be paying the wages for part of the year (my figures based on a 6 month loan, but in reality it would be less than that allowing for either further loans or increased surplus capacity on the wage cap)
    so it is not the premier league restricting players coming in by limiting the wages we can pay (as is suggested), but the bean counters inside St James/MASH doing things on the cheap and not willing to pay the going rate in wages for quality playing staff.

  • Shipcote Willy

    The only factor hampering transfers in one called Ashley. As far as shifting high earners, I am sure Rafa would love to shift a few but the fact is he wont sell anyone before a replacement is actually in the club as he knows that proceeds are likely to be swallowed by Ashley who tried hard but couldn’t get the replacement over the line.

    • HTL

      Is that the same huge line that Pardew could not get transfers over?

  • NUFCDan

    My favourite part of this article was all the edits correcting the utter nonsense spouted! Why publish if full of so many mistakes, misinterpretations and half-truths?

    • Oooh bobbi fleckman

      There are two edits, the first just clarifies my point in how the constraints are applied. I’ve explained that other income can be bought into play but analysing each income stream for each club is going to be a long process and some of these clubs have income streams that are artificially inflated (Man C, Stoke, Leicester and others). Also, I was primarily comparing us with the other promoted clubs where we all made losses last year and for that reason, those clubs will be looking at the basic short term cost controls.

      The other is the offloading of players, I chose the two highest paid players that were offloaded at the end of 2016, I didn’t include Sissoko as his salary was said to be closer to the average whilst Wijnaldum & Townsend’s was at the top end, I certainly should have included Marveux’s as he (surprisingly) was the / in the top 4 of highest paid players. I mentioned Colback’s as his salary is really a problem. The Ed got the slight wrong wnd of the stick with the likes of Saivet being on loan in 2016/17 as he’s still on the books now. The point is really that we’re dealing with a few unknown figures so assumptions have to be made.

      I’m not sure why to Editor felt the need to add to this given the usual Mag articles can have tome outlandish claims which go unchecked.

  • Martin

    Newcastle aren’t in the transfer market for players. There is no mystery. Rafa has £0 to spend. Fatty has said Rafa has to sell first. There is no way Rafa will sanction the sale of any player before he buys one. Not least, he will not trust Fatty to give to him the proceeds to spend. However it would not surprise me though if Ashley sells a player such as Shelvey on Deadline Day when it is too late for the money to be spent elsewhere. I for one am looking forward to the window closing so we can put to bed all this nonsense.

    • Paul Patterson

      I get the feeling that you’ve seen this happen before . .

    • Mitros gotta start

      Ivan toney has just been recalled from wigan….striker problem solved…..well done fatty

  • glassjawsh-got-banned

    I’m just glad the Winter transfer window is only a month long. That way only have to be disappointed for 31 days instead of over 90.

  • GToon

    Good article and very interesting. It’s a real shame that this rule has come into play. I don’t see the point of it other than to penalize clubs who were not blowing a fortune on wages. A much better idea would be to place a cap on the total amount and then make those who are above it reduce their wages or have points docked. Didn’t man city have some kind of fine by FIFA because they broke some rules? The fact that this has been started using a base of 2013 is disgraceful, once again favoring the so called big clubs who are propped up by their rich owner.

  • Mal

    An interesting article but it doesn’t change the fact that if we don’t strengthen the squad in January it will be down to MA. Even if the above figures are correct there is scope to do something in January. It really is a disgrace the way he is running down our club. As a business man you would think that he would realise that to protect your assets you have to invest for the future. Rafa must be going bananas and you do wonder how much longer he is going to put up with this situation. Wonder what Charnley’s doing these days – we never hear anything from him contrary to his promise some time ago to have more open communication with supporters.

    • Leazes

      Only the bit he cut and pasted was of any use.

      • Oooh bobbi fleckman

        Which bit was cut & pasted?