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Failure of Newcastle United Commercial Revenue under Mike Ashley shown by football finance expert

3 years ago

In the last season (2006/07) before Mike Ashley arrived, the Newcastle United Commercial Revenue was £27.6m.

By the time we got to the last available Premier League season account of 2015/16, that figure was £25.1m.

So getting on for a decade later, with the massive growth in popularity and money that Premier League clubs attract, the figure was still less than before he arrived.

It seems almost impossible, considering the fact that every other single decent sized club, has seen their Commercial Revenue increase significantly.

When releasing the 2012/13 accounts, amazingly Mike Ashley actually had this included with the accounts:

“Matchday and commercial revenue is a key driver because that is where the club can compete with – and outperform – its competitors to enhance its spending capabilities.”

Exactly how you are supposed to be able to ‘compete with and outperform’ when the money actually goes DOWN thanks to the owner’s running of the club, is anybody’s guess.

Moving forward the 2016/17 Newcastle United accounts have just been made public and the quality football finance experts are having a field day, especially when the club’s claimed £90m loss is actually more down to accountancy tools and the ‘real’ loss is shown to be under £20m in that second tier season.

When it comes to Newcastle United Commercial Revenue, the excellent Swiss Ramble (a Swiss based English bloke who collates information and writes great pieces on the business of football) has done some great work.

He has published a table showing the Commercial Revenue of each Championship club in the 2016/17 season.

As you can see, Newcastle United are behind both Leeds United and Norwich City.

Leeds a club devastated by a very very long stay in the second tier and Norwich, a club with a fanbase surely far less than half of Newcastle’s.

Surely this is a massive failure for NUFC, how can they fail to drive more commercial money than these two clubs?

The Swiss Ramble gives us some context:

‘Newcastle United commercial income almost halved from £28m to £15m, including central Premier League sponsors.

Comprises commercial £12.1m and other income £2.7m.

Only surpassed by Leeds £16m and Norwich £15m. Ubiquitous presence of Sports Direct advertising surely puts off other potential partners

Not only is Newcastle United commercial income lower than £28m that Ashley inherited, but they have fallen way behind rivals, e.g. gap to #THFC has grown from £11m to £58m in that time.

Unsurprisingly, annual report no longer says, “club continues to focus on maximising commercial revenue”.’

I think the Swiss Ramble is very much on the money but gets one thing wrong, yes t will be true that  ‘Sports Direct advertising surely puts off other potential partners’ BUT far more important is that Mike Ashley has all but zero interest in bringing big commercial partners on board, as that would mean diluting the overwhelming profile that Sports Direct enjoys from their free promotion via Newcastle United.

For Newcastle United ever to stand a chance of properly competing, we need a club that is run completely differently with new owners, where NUFC always comes first in trying to drive as much money into the club as possible.

Compare those commercial revenue figures above, to the ones for matchday money from fans in 2016/17 in the Championship (Table via Kieran Maguire and his PriceOfFootball:

Every club, including Leeds and Norwich, only gets to around 40% at the most of what Newcastle fans generated.

Surely the Newcastle United Commercial Revenue should have followed suit, at least to a certain extent, if you forget about Mike Ashley and Sports Direct…


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