Rafa Benitez wants as big a budget as possible this summer.

No surprise there, any manager obviously wants the same.

However, the manager has repeatedly made clear that as much as the level of transfer budget is important, freedom to spend it as he sees fit is even more important.

For Newcastle to sign better quality players, it is obvious that money has to be spent.

You will get the odd bargain such as Martin Dubravka but at some time the cash has to be put on the table, with a combination of transfer fees and wages getting deals done.

Mike Ashley and his minions are always keen to talk about buying players as not being just about the transfer fee and at his recent first interview/PR statement in three and a half years, Lee Charnley was keen to put this line out once again.

Journalists were only allowed to ask questions on certain subjects and on behalf of Mike Ashley, Charnley went on at some length about how wages were such an important part of any transfer, so if for example if you bought a £10m player it would really be at least a £25m player, if say he was given a five year contract at £60,000 a week (£3m per year).

Yes you can’t ignore the wages but this kind of explanation/defence of Ashley’s running of the club ignores two things: any player brought in usually means at least one current one leaving and off the wage bill. So for example Dwight Gayle would have come into Newcastle on decent wages as a £10m buy but equally, Papiss Cisse left that summer as well.

Also, the club making a big thing of a long-term commitment to wages, ignores the obvious fact that each year’s wages has to be taken in the context of all the revenue that will come in during each of those future seasons, not just the here and now. So unless you have an owner who repeatedly puts you at risk of relegation…

So back to Rafa Benitez and his struggles with Mike Ashley.

A bit like the 13 year old Michael Owen NUFC transfer record, it is also telling that despite being signed two and a half years ago, Jonjo Shelvey is still Newcastle’s highest wage earner, his £80,000 a week said to be the highest by some distance (13 years ago Michael Owen was put a £110,000 a week contract).

Much as Newcastle fans see it as a massive tipping point when Ashley finally allows the transfer fee record to be broken, supporters should be at least as keen to see when Shelvey’s wages are topped.

In the past, Rafa Benitez has invariably preferred to bring in experienced players at past clubs, rather than relatively inexperienced ones.

For the Championship challenge, the United boss overwhelmingly relied on experienced players, bringing in the likes of Ritchie, Gayle, Daryl Murphy, Gamez, Diame. Clark and others.

The then 22 year old Isaac Hayden was the youngest to get anything like regular football that season.

Moving up into the Premier League, I find it inconceivable that Rafa Benitez wouldn’t have wanted to add some experienced players, ones who might not have carried massive transfer fees, but who would have almost certainly been up there with and probably beyond Shelvey’s eighty grand a week.

The manager made clear he had been blocked in making early transfers last summer, with an experienced older (high wage) goalkeeper amongst them.

Instead Newcastle signed Murphy (then 22 years old), Manquillo (23), Atsu (25), Merino (21), Lejeune (26), and Joselu (27).

Never mind beating Shelvey’s wages, I find it difficult to see any of last summer’s signings even being in the top handful of wage earners, with the likes of Ritchie, Clark, Gayle, Mitrovic etc all beyond what they were brought in on.

This brings us to another key point on wages, as you can see, Newcastle’s biggest wage earners are almost all players who were bought from Premier League clubs.

Even in January when even Mike Ashley was forced to accept relegation was a possibility, whilst he blocked any permanent buys, he did allow three loans, which included short-term high wages (by Newcastle standards) for two Premier League players – Slimani and Kenedy.

So when we wonder where Rafa Benitez is looking to shop (assuming he now has been told what his transfer budget is) this summer, if there remains similar constraints on wages as there was last summer, it is surely all but impossible for the NUFC record transfer fee to be broken.

It also makes it very difficult to see how the club could recruit any decent player from another Premier League club, even if the transfer fee isn’t too prohibitive.

At the moment we are stuck with a load of players such as Sels (five year contract), Saivet (five and a half years), Mbemba (five years), and Lazaar (five years), all brought in from lower wage overseas leagues, put on ludicrously long contracts.

Just how much of a risk is it really, if Rafa Benitez say wanted to bring in a couple of signings this summer who may be Premier League players 30+, who wouldn’t cost massive transfer fees (maybe free agents even), but would be given say a two or three year contract at £100,000 or so a week?

Unless Rafa gets the freedom to do what he wants to do, what hope is there?

Just like transfer fees, at some point Newcastle have to pay the market rate for some players, which may be at odds with the rest of the squad. Obviously you don’t want a them and us situation but it is a fact of life that some people get paid more than others in every environment and Newcastle United & Rafa need to have this freedom to operate.

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  • Leazes.

    You seem very informed…..Are you the ex-Brighton footballer Dean Wilkins?

  • Paul Patterson

    Well, if you pay peanuts, you get . . Charnley!

  • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

    Hmmm, the implication is that it’s a bad thing that we haven’t increased wages beyond the £18m transfer fee and £6m a year wage of Michael Owen. It’s worth reminding yourself that in that era, we were insolvent due to such spending.

    • Billmag

      It’s also worth reminding you we never got relegated under the previous owners.

      • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

        That seems quite a small straw to grasp when the business is extinct.

        • Billmag

          C’mon you know and I know this club wouldn’t have gone under, we are more in debt now to Ashley than we ever were under H&S.

          • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

            Wouldn’t have gone under? What makes you think that?

            I actually think the mechanism in place meant the bank would have forced the clubs hand and indeed were doing so before Ashley arrived.

            Someone had to come in and save the day.

          • Billmag

            That’s your opinion that you think the bank would have forced the club’s hand but you don’t really know that, and that someone who came in to save the day was the Sheriff of Nottingham the one and only Mike Ashley who has single handedly has destroyed the hope’s and aspirations of thousands of supporters.

          • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

            It’s my opinion based on the facts and a few people I know who were closer to the action than I was.

            I think the question is, why would Barclays not be concerned? These are the facts:

            The club was losing money at a rate of £2.5m a MONTH. It was even losing money on merchandise retail.

            Shep had been rebuked by the two venture capitalists he’d hoped to save the day.

            The windfall he’d hoped from MGM wasn’t going to happen because the government did a U turn.

            The club wasn’t going to be able to pay it’s transfer commitments, premier league rules were to be triggered to withhold the TV money to satisfy football creditors.

            The first of the bank bonds were maturing, the figures did not suggest they would be rolled over.

            HMRC had just won the VAT case over agents fees, the club were ordered to pay £5m to HMRC.

            The club’s borrowing was attracting interest rates of 11%, there were 18 yo charvers getting better rates to buy their Vauxhall Corsas.

          • Billmag

            Still no answer to the fact we have more debt now than we ever did under H&S.

          • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

            How much more debt do we have?

            It’s fairly obvious there will be more debt after 2007, we continued to make losses from 2007 – 2010 as we still had players on big contracts for that period and this had to be financed

          • Come&TakeIt1836

            There is actually less debt as a ratio to the club’s worth today.

            The club was much more heavily leveraged before… probably at least 50% of the value if not more. It became even more debt-ridden under MA during the recovery but this has reduced to being only about 33% of the club’s value and it is now, of course, not interest bearing. The debt situation is considerably more healthy today v. 11 years ago.

          • Billmag

            I have just had my reply to you above subjected to a review, no swear words just a normal reply but the Mag found the need to review it, so I will not if you don’t mind reply to you.

          • Come&TakeIt1836

            No problem. I get that sometimes, too, and it is frustrating with all the other trash and personal threats people serve up that do get through…

          • Billmag


          • Come&TakeIt1836


          • Wezza147

            Don’t feed the trolls Fleckman/monkseaton/comeandtakeit/bodkamagpie etc. Just block them.

          • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

            Thanks for the heads up Wezza147.

          • Billmag

            Nothing wrong with a bit of banter mate as long as it’s not abusive.

          • Wezza147

            I’m all for banter but they are manchester based trolls who have trolled here for years trying to get a rise out of people for their sad thrills. They’re not Newcastle fans.

          • Come&TakeIt1836

            What is your basis for this wild conspiracy theory? I know you don’t have any since I’m involved. I’m only myself, nobody else is me, and I don’t have any affinity or ties to Manchester whatsoever.

            Oh, and I am a Newcastle fan. With all the detailed posts tracking the club and it’s finances, how could I not be? It takes more effort and misplaced faith to believe I’m not a fan.

          • Geordiegiants

            That monkseaton thing is definetly not a fan.

          • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

            It’s very annoying, sometimes it’s because you have posted a very long reply, posted a link for another website of some words can form a sweary word.

            Even if I don’t agree with you, I want to see your view. Anything else is censorship that breeds ignorance.

            Try splitting into two separate posts.

          • Billmag


          • Come&TakeIt1836

            A different perspective might be had if you/everybody could have seen ‘the ghost of Christmas future’ version of the club back while under the previous owners. It is their management that destroyed the hope and aspirations of the supporters over the next 7-8 years. What if NUFC had walked the path of Sunderland or where Villa seem to be heading about 9 years ago and had played lower league football all of this time? They realized what was coming, handed MA ‘the bag’, quickly exited stage left, the curtain came up, the spotlights came on, and MA has done an awkward tap dance routine with the uniformed press, football ‘so-called’ experts, and fans throwing rotten vegetables at him about his financial management of the club ever since.

            I’m not saying MA is a saint and he has extended the recovery longer than it needed to be both through trusting the wrong people (which caused the second relegation) and seemingly not trusting the right people (maybe Houghton, certainly Rafa) but the club was about to go down a very dark financial hole before he arrived. It is quite ironic that ‘finances’ is the area of MA’s ownership that he gets so beat up about as it is probably the area he deserves the most credit… again, I’m not saying that he has been flawless in the finances, just that it is probably what he has handled best.

          • Ram Kishore

            The truth about our club being mismanaged for years is true bobby

    • Billy Bob three teeth

      In what World were we insolvent? We had structured debt repayments for the Stadium improvements with a total debt of half the amount we have now. It suited Ashley then as it does now to present the books as huge losses for tax purposes.
      I get the fact that your probably part of the shadow board PR machine but you don’t half write some complete and utter nonsense.

      • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

        We had £16,000,000 fewer assets than liabilities when Mike took over, that’s an insolvent business.
        The club was trying to get finance from the start of the 2006 season, it failed when both Polygon & Belgravia pulled out of DD in December 2006 an January 2007. By The end of February, Barclays were so concerned, they had a permanent staff deployed at SJP dismayed that FFS had already done deals for high waged players such as Geremi and also for Sam Aladyce.

        We didn’t have structured debt repayments for the Stadium, we had bonds where we paid the interest only, we didn’t pay off a penny in stadium debt since it was built.

        We had unpaid transfer fees that were due in July 2007 which were more than the league money and anticipated ST income.

        There was no advantage to Ashley in terms of Tax. The club already had losses from previous years to use for tax, there was no tax to pay.

        I don’t work for the club, I’m just a fan.

        • Angelswithdirtyfaces

          The club was not insolvent at all. Had it been then it would have been unlawful for it to continue to trade and the directors liable. Many businesses show a paper loss on capital assets due to write downs, often to avoid a tax bill as it happens. Liabilities can always be amortised. Insolvency as regards trading accounts is an entirely separate concept.

          • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

            You are correct, the directors would be liable if they trade whilst knowingly insolvent. It’s extremely hard to prove and hardly ever happens.

            Hall snr recognised the game was up and took it on himself to find a buyer to protect his family’s exposure.

            A company can trade whilst Technically insolvent as long as there is a source of finance to meet the liabilities. Mike Ashley was allowed to trade because he personally was financing the losses from 2007-2010 and more recently in 2016/17.

            I’m not sure you mean that “Liabilities can always be amortised”. Creditors may agree to take a haircut or defer payment but that needs agreement.

          • Angelswithdirtyfaces

            You have clearly never read the Companies Act. It is entirely illegal to seek to trade through insolvency.

          • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

            Companies can be technically insolvent but have the means to pay debts in obtaining further finance. This is what Nufc did in May 2007 and in Dec 2016, Ashley provided more loans to pay debts.

            You are right, the directors do become liable as it’s illegal to trade whilst insolvent but very hard to pursue.

  • panther

    so were not signing anyone whos any good

  • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

    Wages are important, in this regard the piece is correct. We had a serious problem last season with FFP. Our wage bill could not exceed £73m without additional income, the scope for this season is up to £80m.

    The way the accounts were put together in out Championship year meant that some leaway has been created in the FFP rules as we’ve counted some 2018 wages in the 2017 accounts but it’s still a restriction.

    • JonMag

      what a load of [email protected]@king schitt

      • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

        I’m glad to be discussing this with the upper end of intelligentsia, good point and well made. Tell me, are you Oxford or Cambridge?

        • Come&TakeIt1836

          ‘lowest common denominator’

        • JonMag

          street education & that means i can spot a [email protected]@king idiot like you a mile off.

          • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

            Right, you are clever because you are thick. that’s quite a strong position in a debate.

    • Geordiegiants

      Bobbi what are you talking about man, FFP give our man you are sounding dafter by the day.

      • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

        It means financial fair play, there is an excellent article on it in the Mag.

  • JonMag

    anyone thinks that the fat [email protected]@king scumbag will change is in cloud cuckoo land.
    he`ll sell Lascelles to the highest bidder & he`ll lose Benitez to boot,
    he couldn`t give a monkey`s what the fans say or do

    • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

      It’s likely to be Benitez who sells Lascelles if there is a big offer. If you thought about it for a moment, if we keep Lascelles, he’ll be worth at least as much and likely to be more if he stays and has another good season. England return from the World Cup having been shambolic in defence, Lascelles gets the call to the first team and NUFC have an England defender on their hands, £40m will not even get close.

      Benitez, however, only has a year on his contract and stalling on signing another. He can get £40m added to his budget, buy a cheaper replacement and have more funds to play with in the coming season.

      • MichaelMaximusMoose

        Rafa lost control of transfers 18 months ago

        • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

          on what basis? he has more control over this club than hes had since Valencia.

          • grumpyoldmag

            So why didn’t he sign the experienced keeper he wanted at the start of the season then?

          • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

            Possibly because he had 3 on the books already

          • grumpyoldmag

            Sels left middle of June- Rafa wanted caballero but wasn’t allowed to sign him. He got his experienced goalkeeper on loan in January. I repeat – if he has full control of transfers how come he did not sign an experienced goalkeeper in July or August last year?

          • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

            I agree, Caballero would have been a waste of a salary, £2.2m a year where we’re pretty much maxed out on FFP

          • Geordiegiants

            Bobbi how stupid do you think people are? FFP give your head a shake man

          • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

            If you were the board and Rafa says, I need to pay a keeper £2.5m a year but that’s for 2 years really because he wants a 2 year contract, he’s 35 and has a year in him, would you not say, hang on, you have 3 keepers and the last one you bought on that sort of money was a bit rubbish?

            Look back on this very forum, tleven the Ashley haters were not exactly thinking the keeper was important.

            We have a cap on wages, not an Ashley imposed cap but a FFP cap, my calculations says we’re quite close to that cap.

          • Geordiegiants

            If I’m not mistaken its 70% of revenue. I wouldn’t think we are even close to that. Unless it was commercial revenue then we would be a goner.

          • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

            No, red the excellent article on FFP on these very pages. Most articles are rubbish but this one is brilliant, seriously, a masterpiece.

            To find it, go to google, site search the Mag for the author name. the Author name…….Bobbi Fleckman ;-)

  • Wezza147

    But wait! For the clubs Championship season wage B.S to be true then the wage structure was already broken with Lazaar on £120,000 a week, Gamez on £125,000 a week and Gayle on £140,000 a week.
    Of course we know this isn’t true.
    Truth is the above are on considerably less, just take the 1 off.
    My point is that’s the wage structure WAS NOT and WILL NOT be broken nor will the transfer record.
    Football is a distant second in priorities for MA with the prize money already pocketed.
    Just look at other clubs. Wolves looking to smash our record. Wolves. Of course we can’t compete can we.
    All lies.

    • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

      I’d like to see your working there Wezza, I think you may have misunderstood a few figures.

      • Damon Horner

        Surely any misinterpration was brought on by how some expenses were represented in the accounts and has attracted the criticism?

        • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

          Not if you read the notes, it’s all quite clear.

          • Geordiegiants

            It’s all quite clear Bobbi? I’ll ask again then, how much do we get from the jumble sale for our replica kits ?

          • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

            More than we got in 2007.

          • Geordiegiants

            Very clear that.

          • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

            The accounts will not break down every commercial enterprise and every transaction, some people like young Wezza147 clearly struggle to read 30 pages, if you wanted to drill down to all transactions, you’d have thousands of transactions to read through.

            We make a decent profit on merchandise, far more than we did under Ashley’s regime. The exact figures really can’t be disclosed but according to Rangers’ board, we get the best deal in the UK.

          • Geordiegiants

            I don’t think that leaves a lot to be desired Bobbi. Who else has he got the same deal with?
            Commercial revenue has basically stood still for his whole tenure. Most if not every other club in the premier has grown year on year.

          • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

            Sports Direct have fulfilment deals with a lot of clubs.

            There aren’t that many that do it in house, it’s expensive to rent warehouses, staff them and have to deal with logistics, stock holding etc. Often they are staffing these places for two peak times, the kit launch in August and the November / December rush for Christmas.

            The biggest players are Kitbag and Sports Direct but there are others. You will find a lot of Puma & Sondico clubs use Sports Direct either for all the merchandise / website, marketing etc down to just the fulfilment/ logistics where Sports Direct drop-ship.

    • Wezza147

      Trolls are blocked, so don’t bother replying. Have a nice day trolling elsewhere.

      • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

        You are replying to yourself saying trolls will be blocked, does that mean you are the troll? It comes to something when you block yourself for being too dull.

  • Vodkamagpie

    What about signing on fee’s, agent fee’s, bonuses?? ?. Always hear about us selling cabaye, janmaat, debushy, ba etc.., making huge profit.. … What about the assets we lost money on, thauvin, cabella, riviere, de jong, etc. Our profit making has to cover our loss making.

  • GToon

    I get all of that, I really do. But why does none of this apply to the teams who try and win things and are more successful than us? Does the possibility that we might do better and become a good team simply never enter in Ashley’s Head?

    • nufcslf

      Thick as a brick when it comes to a football brain, unless it is in the sales column and it is money in his pocket. [email protected] comes to mind.

  • Geordiegiants

    We are supposed to have a top ten wage bill 🤣😂🤣😂🤣😂.

  • Down Under Mag

    Ashley will be reluctant to sanction massive wages for any incoming players as that will then trigger existing players to want higher wages when extending contracts etc. He is trying to run the club on as low a budget as possible while maintaining top flight status and collect his TV money. There seems to always be an excuse why we don’t have the money to compete with the likes of West Ham, Swansea and the mighty West Brom.

    The players we are signing seem to be signed from relatively low wages so we couldn’t be paying them top drawer wages like other clubs are, so i’m curious to know how our wage bill is so high. The cloak and dagger running of the club by those in charge doesn’t exactly make it easy for the fans to trust the state of the finances at the club.