Newcastle United – The last great North hope?
Newcastle United are flying the flag for the region.
Once known as the ‘hotbed’ of football, the North East is looking more of a wasteland.
Middlesbrough have had a proper go financially at bouncing straight back to the Premier League but are nowhere near automatic promotion, they are currently just about clinging onto a play-off spot. However, if they don’t go up this time then the finances will bite and they could be struggling.
Speaking of struggling, Sunderland are in freefall and League One looks a certainty.
Whilst beyond that, difficult to believe that not so long ago, both Darlington and Hartlepool have been in the third tier, now the pair of them appear doomed to non-league for the foreseeable.
Any football infrastructure in the region has crumbled and really everything points to Newcastle standing alone, IF relegation can be avoided and Rafa Benitez sees potential in staying on Tyneside.
In the case of Hartlepool and Darlington, plus Gateshead showing no signs of competing for promotion to League Two, it also means there are no local sides at a competitive level to loan out promising players to.
As for this season in the Premier League, the fact that Newcastle’s eleventh closest away trip is Wembley (544 miles round trip) to play Spurs (when they finally confirm the date…), tells you everything.
It appears to be not just a North East thing but a definite drift from the North overall to the South. Yorkshire is now desolate when it comes to Premier League football, with the likes of Leeds, Sheffield Wednesday, Sheffield United, Barnsley and Bradford all having once been top tier teams in the Premier League era – but no longer.
Hull bucked the trend as a bit of a yoyo club with initial overseas investment helping them compete but they are surely going only one way now.
It is only really the North West big quartet in Manchester and Liverpool that you can count on in the top flight.
Huddersfield and Burnley are giving it a decent go but they stand out, the only two away trips before you get as far as Manchester.
The signs from below aren’t good either, with Wolves (407 miles round trip) and Cardiff (631 miles round trip) looking nailed on for promotion.
Is it a case of rich ambitious potential owners not seeing the benefits in investing the further North you go, with the exception of that North West quartet?
Bournemouth attracted a rich overseas investor and are outspending Newcastle United, they even happily paid a fine for breaking spending rules when getting promotion from the Championship.
Does this failure from overseas (where any likely buyer of Newcastle is almost certain to come from) to generally see clubs further North as attractive targets, then extend to Newcastle United? A club which we would all see as a special case no matter what surrounds us.
There is a fascination around the country and beyond for Newcastle United, a club that gets relegated and then averages over 51,000 every week.
We stand alone in many ways, both in terms of geography but especially in terms of potential, still waiting to be unleashed.
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