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Newcastle United Managing Director gives first interview in years

1 year ago

Lee Charnley is a man alone.

With Newcastle United being a dysfunctional club that is run in a totally different way to any other of a similar size.

Instead of a powerful board (or two) to guide the club on its strategy, Lee Charnley is the only director on the NUFC board.

Instead of a high powered business team set ambitious targets of moving the club forward on a day to day basis, Newcastle United have Lee Charnley as the only named senior executive.

Lee Charnley is also the lowest paid Managing Director/CEO of any Premier League club.

Any extra communication has to be welcomed from the club and so the first interview with Lee Charnley in years has to be of some value.

Speaking to a number of journalists working for the papers, the NUFC MD hasn’t said anything startling but you live in hope that eventually there could be more transparency from the club.

It would have been even better if it had been a chat with one of Mike Ashley’s figures in the background who he has working above Lee Charnley, especially Justin Barnes, or failing that his PR man Keith Bishop.

Or of course even even better if it had been the organ grinder himself, Mike Ashley, explaining exactly what is going on with his failure so far to convince Rafa Benitez to stay…

Guessing a bit like how the club tried to pain such a bleak picture of the finances (the ‘real’ loss in 2016/17 was less than £20m and not the accountancy tools one of £90m they were pushing), this is another exercise in trying to get us to believe how we should be grateful for Mike Ashley in ‘saving’ us, rather than being the person who somehow relegated our great club twice within seven Premier League seasons, as well as a couple of near misses.

Lee Charnley:

“It (failing to get promotion) would have been a catastrophe, a bloodbath, the manager would likely have gone.

“It was a one season gamble from his view as well.

“Some of the players would have wanted to go…Matt Ritchie for example, he bought into this on the basis of, one year in the Championship then going to the Premier League.

“Then we would have had Financial Fair Play, you cannot operate a business continually that has a wage bill higher than its turnover…it is not sustainable.

“We would have had no choice but to recruit Championship players and three teams then come down with more money than you.

“You end up on a cycle of trying to catch them and you have to reset financially – it would have taken years to get out of the Championship.

“We had planned a conversation with the manager after the (final) game (of the season against Tottenham).

“Mike (Ashley) said ‘We are going for it’ and we talked through the game….’get the manager to stay, get off to decent start, the fans behind you, build momentum and it can develop a life of its own.

“Mike’s priority was to keep Rafa and he said I’m going to support you, and come next year I do not want to be in this league.

‘It’s not like we’re sat on a big pot of cash keeping it for a rainy day,’ said Charnley. ‘Money comes in, money goes out and what’s left is available to spend, it’s that simple.’

“This year was about staying in the Premier League, and now it is about growing and improving year on year, but doing that within our means.

“Not to say there is a lack of ambition, because there definitely is ambition, it will just take some time.

“There have been a lot of briefings and information out there (about a possible takeover) but we are planning and assuming Mike will be the owner of this football club.

“We are moving forward assuming Mike Ashley  will be the owner because what’s the alternative?”


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