Last summer saw the Newcastle players in dispute with Mike Ashley over the level of bonuses that would come their way in the Premier League.
Normally players wanting more money would get little sympathy from football fans but that wasn’t the case this time.
The Newcastle squad just wanted a bonus scheme comparable with rival clubs in the top tier.
The dispute dragged on right into the new season and it was just one of the many ways in which Mike Ashley was doing the exact opposite of helping Rafa and his players step up into the Premier League.
It was more than four weeks into the Premier League season when agreement was reached, following a phone conversation between Jamaal Lascelles and Mike Ashley (see below).
So moving forward to the present and only one match left to play, what have the Newcastle players got to play for when it comes to bonuses for the squad?
Well the agreement saw £4m paid to the squad if they finished one place above the relegation zone and then an extra £1m to be added for each extra step up the league.
As you can see from the Premier League table below: Crystal Palace, Bournemouth, Watford, Brighton, and West Ham, could all still finish higher.
So in terms of cash:
NUFC finish 10th – Club receive extra £20.9m based on league position and players bank £11m of that in bonuses
NUFC finish 15th – Club receive extra £11.4m based on league position and players bank £6m of that in bonuses
It is a win-win for Mike Ashley, as for each place up the Premier League you finish, each club gets an extra £1.9m.
So as well as the pride issue and for the club, fans and manager, there are still another five million reasons why Newcastle’s players will be extra motivated on Sunday against Chelsea.
Current Premier League table on Thursday morning and below that the fixtures remaining:
All remaining Premier League fixtures:
Thursday 10 May
West Ham v Man Utd 7.45pm
Sunday 13 May (all 3pm kick-offs)
Burnley v Bournemouth
Crystal Palace v West Brom
Huddersfield v Arsenal
Liverpool v Brighton
Man United v Watford
Newcastle v Chelsea
Southampton v Man City
Swansea v Stoke
Tottenham v Leicester
West Ham v Everton
The Mag – 13 September 2018:
Mike Ashley once again released a PR ‘exclusive’ through Sky Sports at the weekend.
The story being that the NUFC owner would ‘donate £20m’ to the Newcastle players if they win the FA Cup this season.
This leading to much amusement at what other unrealistic bonuses could be offered, such as winning the Premier League, or the Champions League, or the Great North Run before scoring a double hat-trick at Swansea.
This PR announcement came against a backdrop of a row that had lasted all summer, with Mike Ashley having offered the Newcastle players a bonus scheme for this Premier League season that was way below what rival clubs have incentivised players with.
The offer on the table was £1m if they finished 17th and avoided relegation, which worked out on average at less than a week’s wages for each player.
That amount would then increase by £1m for every position above 17th.
The Newcastle players though were refusing to accept less than their rivals and a month into the season there was still no agreement.
However, agreement has now been reached.
Miles Starforth (of the Shields Gazette) has had the inside track on this story from the start and he has revealed that a phone conversation between Mike Ashley and Newcastle captain Jamaal Lascelles saw the bonus scheme eventually agreed.
On Wednesday morning he reports that the agreed deal is the same as what was on offer previously but that Newcastle players will share £4m if they avoid relegation in 17th place and then still an additional £1m for every position higher.
The Premier League payout at the end of the season sees the 20th placed club get £1.9m extra for finishing bottom, then for each place above they get an extra £1.9m.
So roughly speaking, Mike Ashley and the Newcastle players have agreed that the squad will receive half of the extra money the club receive depending on their position…plus the £20m for winning the FA Cup.
Now the players would receive the same £20m if they win the Premier League (cough cough) as they would the FA Cup.
I would happily settle for either…