It has become crystal clear to everybody by now surely, that Rafa Benitez hasn’t been given any transfer budget whatsoever by Mike Ashley.
Even the manager has made this clear himself.
The only way he can bring in signings is if he sells players and then is given some, but not all, of the sale price.
I reckon we all accept the above now.
However, beyond that basic reality, a lot of Newcastle fans and media appear to be over-thinking the situation between Mike Ashley and Rafa Benitez.
I, and I guess most of you, don’t believe for one second that there isn’t money available that Ashley could make available for the manager to spend, but chooses not to. After all, he has got form.
After stockpiling cash over a number of transfer windows, Mike Ashley then suddenly allowed over £85m to be spent in the relegation season whilst Steve McClaren was Head Coach.
There was £50m+ spent in summer 2015 and then another £30m+ in January 2016 with Newcastle still deep in relegation trouble.
However, let’s just for one second suspend belief, that there are currently no funds sitting there that could and should be spent.
If that was/is the case, then it still means Mike Ashley is choosing not to give Rafa Benitez transfer funds, it isn’t that he can’t do it.
The easiest way for more transfer funds to be available would be if instead of keeping on taking payments in instalments, he took full payment up front.
So for example, if Aleksandar Mitrovic has been sold for £22m (that could rise to £27m if hitting certain targets) and the initial payment might say be £5m, why not tell Fulham they can have him for £18m if it is all paid up front, or maybe say £22m paid up front and drop the clauses for another £5m in the future? Yes the club would be receiving less cash overall but surely it is better for Rafa to have say £18m/£22m to spend now, rather than only £5m now and a larger amount that will only be spent when we have a Pardew or McClaren puppet back ‘in charge’?
At the moment sales exceed buys by over £25m (£35m until Muto deal is confirmed) this summer and yet Newcastle still can’t supposedly afford £8m for a left-back, or bring in any striker unless Dwight Gayle, and possibly others as well, are sold.
Alternatively, Mike Ashley could put money in himself, or loan it to the club, which of course he has done the twice he has relegated us. Why not back Rafa to build the club rather than ony spend money when disaster threatens, or has already happened? This isn’t Ashley being charitable by the way, the club is Mike Ashley’s asset and indeed is valued at £400m+ according to the owner, meaning it has vastly increased in value since he bought it. By putting in/loaning cash, Mike Ashley himself would be the massive winner if things improved because of that. More Premier League revenues guaranteed, more massive free worldwide exposure for his retail empire would also be guaranteed, whilst the club would also grow in value if successful – with one day a sale generating far more money. Ashley could put in tens of millions and NUFC would still be well within Financial Fair Play (FFP) limits.
This is the same of course with the likes of spending cash on revamping the Academy, building the state of the art training complex that was promised five years ago and said by Ashley (via JFK) to be essential to the club’s future ambitions, or indeed St James Park itself – which has hardly had a penny spent on it. Apart that is for the various improved advertising hoardings and big screen that are used almost exclusively to promote Sports Direct and the rest of his brands. Plus spending money on the Academy, or St James Park, or the training ground, all stand outside FFP. Like investing in players, spending on any of these things would almost certainly increase the value of the club when he chooses to sell it (one day very soon please).
If Mike Ashley wanted to help Rafa Benitez (and there was genuinely no funds available), then he could also allow the club to borrow money at a commercial rate, giving Rafa money to spend now in advance of 2018/19 payments coming in from the Premier League, other clubs do this. Yes, interest would need to be paid, but just how expensive would yet another relegation be?
Yet another option, and maybe the easiest of all, would be if Sports Direct actually paid for the massive free promotion they get now.
Back in the 2014/15 accounts (see below), Mike Ashley pledged that Sports Direct were going to start and pay a market rate for the so far free advertising/promotion by NUFC.
I think £10m per season would be very cheap for Sports Direct. If you doubt that, just consider that FUN88 pay £6.5m to sponsor the shirt. I reckon SD get at the very least twice as much benefit from their relationship with Newcastle United, than the betting firm does.
So please, don’t be fooled.
Rafa Benitez doesn’t have money to spend, solely because Mike Ashley chooses that to be the case.
When newspapers are trying to explain why it might be the case as to why there is no money to spend, it is all irrelevant, it is only because the owner decides that this will be the situation.
Just look around you, there is not another top club that is run along the same lines as how Mike Ashley treats Newcastle United. If you think he is right in what he does, then the logical assumption must then be that everybody else is wrong.
The Mag – 14 April 2016:
Extract from the 2014/15 Newcastle United Football Accounts
‘During the current and prior year, advertising and promotional services were provided to Sports Direct International being a company associated with the ultimate owner of the company, MJW Ashley.
No consideration has been paid by Sports Direct International for these services to date but Sports Direct International and the Company are in the process of agreeing an arms length rate for these services and the Company anticipates receiving payment for these services in the future.
During the current and prior year, advertising and promotional services were provided to companies associated with MR MJW Ashley, the ultimate shareholder of the Company’sultimate parent undertaking MASH Holdings Limited. No consideration was paid or payable for these services.’