The latest Newcastle United Fans Forum took place on Monday 24 September, with the club’s minutes of the meeting not published until yesterday, 11 days after the event.

Jon Lane (representing Members) is one of the NUFC supporters who takes part in the Newcastle United Fans Forum.

Here he gives us his view on what has gone on…

This particular Newcastle United Fans Forum was always going to be interesting, lots of questions that wanted to be answered and it’s fair to say that we got answers to those questions. Lee Charnley was very open in his responses and talked about stuff that he wouldn’t be able to in public, mostly about transfer targets.

It should be common sense that tells the wider fan base that he was happy to tell us in a room to illustrate a point, stuff that he couldn’t put out in the public domain, such as who Rafa targeted but we couldn’t sign.

Off the back of this there was conversation about other players we’d targeted but not secured for a mixture of reasons, again talking about other club’s players can’t really be published publicly and I’m sure the wider fan base understand that.

Reassurances were given around S….. D….. Sponsorship, the NUFC Club Shop and clarifications  on Justin Barnes and Keith Bishop’s roles which had been sought after for a while.  The only question that couldn’t be answered at all from what we asked, was regarding the ongoing HMRC investigation.

The biggest obvious concern is the manager’s position. Lee Charnley made it clear that he wants to keep the manager and that’s what the club want going forwards. They have the same aims but the timelines are different due to affordability.  This comes back down to the club needing to “live within it’s own means” and there is confidence from the club we can sustain our PL status. Like many I’d like us to be pushing to be a stable top-ten club as a minimum and pushing to win a trophy or for a European place and like most I struggle to see how that isn’t possible when we look at the investment other clubs have put in.

We asked about the money, Lee explained about the cash flow model we operate. He explained we spend what comes in which gives us our budget.  He was questioned in depth about player instalments from previous sales and what’s coming in and he answered accordingly.  We challenged points about how the money comes in and that it doesn’t appear possible that we don’t have more and he covered it off.  He advised there are times we’ll either go to the owner for a loan to see us through the year or a bank to do the same.

The biggest mistake I made was tweeting on the Monday evening (24 September) when I was asked how the meeting went: “Very open, lots that can’t be minuted from that perspective but the big questions were answered as far as they could be #nufc”.

This invited a lot of comments and concern around how the minutes are “watered down” and totally missed the point I had been trying to make, and something I raised in my first article on The Mag.  Talk about players from other clubs or commercially sensitive stuff (such as England Rugby being played at SJP) won’t be minuted, but anything else raised will be.  We have to approve the minutes after the meeting before they are released publicly to make sure it’s a fair reflection of what took place.

Of course most have seen NUST’s tweet advising they haven’t signed off on the minutes – what I would say is that although I can understand and support the concerns that were raised by NUST, the minutes are far from pure fiction and do give the key points of what was discussed in the meeting along with the club’s answers.

I was asked if I believed what I was told by Lee Charnley in the meeting, and said that I did. I could’ve not responded or just said no – but whatever I said I’d be criticised.  I think he’s talking from a position with handcuffs on, he’s operating within the financial model he’s allowed to and there have been relaxations on certain parts of the “structure” such as instalments for new players (by matching the incoming payments up).  Lee was challenged on this around only using player revenue, and he clarified that the club will use everything, and explaining that we don’t have £120m arrive from the Premier League on 1st June. The majority of this comes from 3 instalments throughout the year.

There is also criticism about us (Fans Forum members) being invited to a game in November, which is a shame. The Forum (with the exception of those Magpie Group Members) don’t see each other unless we’re at a meeting. The club have decided they want to invite us to a game, so why should we say no?

This will have ZERO impact to the questions we ask because ultimately we ask them what the fans want to ask them.  It’s like people forget that at least three of the Fans Forum Members are also members of The Magpie Group who have open issues with the current ownership.  Also bear in mind the members who travel long distances to be part of the process at a large expense, do they not deserve a thank you?

I’m getting to the point where I’m starting to accept that no matter what we do as Forum Members, a portion of those who aren’t within the process will always criticise because it’s easier to.

I don’t see it as a duty, I see it as an honour to be given the chance to question our club board directly on behalf of the fanbase.  In saying that, on Monday I worked 8-5.30, then had to leg it to SJP from Central Station for 6pm, and we didn’t leave until 8.45pm.  I didn’t get home until 9.45pm.  The Long Distance Rep and London Supporters Rep both have to travel long distances and in cases stay overnight.  To the best of my knowledge this is not “expensed” back to the club. We don’t have to take part in the process, but as a whole I believe we all think it’s better to be engaged in the process rather than to dismiss it.

I don’t think the Club helps itself in this process though.

There are a few extenuating circumstances as to why the minutes were delayed this time round.  When the person responsible for compiling the minutes wasn’t present it’s going to be a difficult task.  It’s not Lee Marshall’s fault the meeting was moved to a time he was on leave.  And for the record, it’s not the Club’s fault they had to move from the original date, but moving forwards I don’t feel producing minutes is the right way to engage the process and I’ve made that clear to the Club and the rest of the Forum Members.  Some other clubs (I believe Southampton and Brighton) do theirs live on YouTube. I believe doing this would take away some of the genuine openness we’ve seen in the room but taking an approach such as an edited video or an audio Podcast would help re-engage the more sceptical fans out there in the process.

In terms of my personal opinion, I believe the answers we were given.

HOWEVER, it doesn’t mean I’m not concerned by the current state of play with the club. I think there is more the Club could do to be more competitive and more the owner could do to increase the value of his asset – such as invest in the Training Ground now, which could be enough to encourage the manager to sign a long term contract.  The Club has openly stated that the ambitions are the same but the timescales are different – and that is the biggest reason we risk losing our manager at the end of the season unless something drastically changes.

So in summary – we’re part of a process. We submit questions in advance but aren’t restricted about what we can/can’t question in the room. We get answers to almost everything and anything we don’t is minuted (IE – HMRC no comment is minuted). We give up our time and a few members travel at great expense to take part in the process. Finally, we can only ask what you ask us to.

If you don’t like the process raise it with Lee Marshall, but suggest what you’d do to improve it.

My other ask would be that you don’t criticise the Members, we all want what’s best for the club which is why we give up the time and take the flak we do to take your questions directly to the Board.”

Any Members are free to contact me via Twitter (@jonlane86) or email me ([email protected]) if you have any questions you want to have asked.

To feature like Jon Lane submit your article to [email protected] and/or for more info go here



  • Cockneytrev

    Sorry I’m not buying that,,,

  • Waxi

    I still don’t get the financial situation we make a profit most windows and we still go to the owner for a loan. What cash flow model are we working to a one where he keeps the TV money and the club are left with nothing. Something is just not right and stinks IMHO.

    • Cockneytrev

      Exactly,,, smells of bull💩

  • FatParosite

    The fans forum is a tick box exercise to achieve the regime’s obligation to the FA. Off the record is an affront to transparency and used in this case to obfuscate what is really going on at NUFC. We are not GCHQ. Ultimately the fans forum is doomed to failure when it misrepresented on so many levels. Treating the whole process with disrespect also nullifies any ability to achieve anything of note, The whole exercise is bankrupt from the bottom up.

    • Cockneytrev

      In layman terms,, it’s a whitewash and these so called fans should be ashamed…

      • FatParosite

        Bullseye.

  • Tweed Mag

    Perhaps it is being a bit naive to think that the money paid to the club (approx £120m) via TV revenue, could be used for player recruitment. Ha!
    No bank in the world would turn down a short term loan on the basis of the guaranteed future payment would they? Why not pay for expensive recruits in instalments? The club continues to waffle and avoid difficult questions and it must be frustrating meeting with them. I suggest one of the Forum members produces their own minutes, so the scepticism that arises can be addressed. Not sure this article will put minds at rest.

    • Cockneytrev

      Video it,,,

      • Tweed Mag

        Yes, that would put an end to the rumours. But would they agree?

        • Cockneytrev

          How would they know?
          There’s so much equipment about now and I could be put out there without knowing who released it…

          • Tweed Mag

            See what you mean.

    • FatParosite

      ‘Not sure this article will put minds at rest.’ – It does exactly the opposite.

      • Cockneytrev

        Exactly,, again asked more questions than were answered,,

      • Tweed Mag

        I think so. Perhaps the author is just trying to keep everyone happy, but they are dealing with characters who cannot be trusted.

        • Cockneytrev

          He is their to represent the fans, not everybody,,,

          • Tweed Mag

            It is there, but clearly not working. The regime has no idea how to deal with the fans.

          • Leazes.

            Think he there to represent himself.

    • JohnnyH

      Dead right mate, standard practice to borrow secured loans against assets.

      We’ve got the TV money, player payments, ( Sissoko, Wilnaldum et al )
      Commercial revenue, gate receipts, transfer surpluses all rolling in and they fob us off with the old ‘living within our means’ bollocks.

  • Carverlier football

    Lee Charnley was very open and told the fan’s forum exactly what he thought would placate them… So my question to Lee would be: if we’re living within our means and have a net spend since promotion of around zero, wheras Brighton, promoted at the same time, have a net spend of well over £110m in the same period – where does he think Brighton got all their money from? Why isn’t he making complaints to the FA/Premier League? Surely they must be breaking FFP rules or doing something underhand to get an unfair advantage? Or, Lee, is it just that our pleas of poverty are so much horse leavings…?

    • Cockneytrev

      👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏

    • Jezza

      Precisely. I wish to God the club was living within its means because that would have seen some of the £123 million television money spent on new players in the summer.

  • Kenny

    The time you wasted listening to that krap you will never get back

    • Tweed Mag

      Exactly. I’m off to fix a ridge tile on the roof. Just me and a bucket of cement. I won’t be producing any minutes either.

  • Phildene

    And what’s more infuriating is that neither the Premier League nor FA, the two governing bodies, want to know. I have emailed the PL 4 times informing them of what is happening and how unhappy we are as supporters and when I finally got any reply it was to contact Lee Marshall. I’ve now told them it’s gone beyond that and he’s more than likely to be on Ashley’s side. I am now waiting ( again) for an answer to that! I’ve suggested an investigation and asked for their help. I’ve put it to then that they’re ignoring my emails and will do so again.

    It’s SO frustrating when the leading bodies don’t want to know!

    • Leazes.

      Keep going, don’t give up.

    • Cockneytrev

      A friend who’s not a NUFC fan used the exact words,,”it must be frustrating “

    • Carverlier football

      Maybe try a different tack and ask them to investigate Wolves, Brighton, Fulham, Huddersfield, Bournemouth etc because if we’re just honestly living within our means then they clearly must be cheating with all the money they’ve spent on players and facilities…

  • JohnnyH

    Jon,
    I Don’t entirely agree with the position you see yourself in regarding confidentiality.
    Personally I wouldn’t feel bound by the need to keep minuted matters confidential, once agreed as a true and accurate record, meeting minutes are then for general consumption in my experience.

    You should be able to post what happened, it’s what most of us would expect from a fans forum representative.

    • Jezza

      They can’t name those prospective player targets because they didn’t exist.

      • Leazes.

        The targets probably exist but Charnley’s brief is operating to a set of rules from the owner that he won’t discuss with anyone, such as wage ceilings, and sell on value, regardless of the needs of the team.

        Charnley is the squad builder operating it to satisfy the accounts which can be plundered at will by the owner….. how can targets to satisfy the manager even exist under the few rules we do know about?

        • Jezza

          I see what you mean. I think by prospective player targets they must mean players Rafa wanted, players good enough for the Premiership who would have cost the going rate and were therefore immediately dismissed out of hand by Ashley’s minions at the club.

      • Cockneytrev

        Or if they did, underbid by 10s of millions,,

  • Realist

    Optimistic travelling down here today. We can get something today if rafa wants to be a little more adventurous. I get that it’s away at the library that is old Trafford but have a go at them. Keep the faith, support the lads. Hwtl

  • X2

    In other words you bought everything that nice Mr Charnley told you despite the club rotting away beneath us while the asset strip continues to feed cash to Ashley. The same Ashley who literally stuck two fingers up to you and every other NUFC fan.

    • Leazes.

      You can see why Charnley wants him there…. he’s a filibuster…..

  • Leazes.

    Very disappointing report from this individual, never have I read so much which says so little!

    First name terms with people who have systematically ripped the club to shreds! and acceptance without a murmur the vague mealy mouthed response to questions, and even vaguer report to the Mag.

    All he has done is said what an honour it is for him to sit amongst such distinguished entities…..

    You cant see the wood for the tree’s can you? Are you a plant?

    Shame on You!

    Resign you Ass.

    • Billmag

      I was in the process of writing something similar, this report as you say is very vague, no mention of how much money the owner has taken out, to many unanswered questions.

      • Leazes.

        They were never going to get answers but this guy turns up for the biscuits….

        ……it is a common ploy to put individuals like this in place to protect the chair of a meeting…… its a filibustering report as well…. he seems totally adept at what he does.

    • Albert Stubbins

      Your right. They’re a bunch of sycophants!!

      • Leazes.

        This one is an ‘Uncle Tom’….. I’ll wait for the NUST version it might actually say something.

        • Albert Stubbins

          Clearly hand picked. It’s about as genuine as prime minister’s question time!!

        • Pezza

          NUST, a trust that has raised no money in 11 years, wow, they will be credible.

    • Carverlier football

      Are you calling him an ass or going all hip hop (on his ass)? Yo resign yo ass, mofo! :)

      • Leazes.

        I’m not Hip Hop…. did like ‘hey ya’ by Outkast and ‘I’ll be missing You’ by P Diddy…. that’s about it really.

        • Scott Robinson

          Thought you were more of the hop scotch and hip replacement generation?

  • Waxi

    Well the January and every other window under the FCB from now on will be the club looking for a profit a couple of loans and some second rate players. I hope and pray the fat slug p!sses off back down to London it is now official we are efd and going nowhere under this slug.

    • Leazes.

      The club has entered most seasons totally unprepared, Leaving the possibility of spending in the January window to save its skin…. and that seems to be the policy by design not accident.

      If your club doesn’t have an aim then you don’t need to prepare for a season at all…..

      ….. with people like Jon Lane…. Charnley doesn’t need to hide!

      • Waxi

        Leaves we need folk who will ask the hard stuff and question the board as they are just paying lip service. What a waste of time for anybody to go be told a load of waffle about the money then not ask Mr Chumley what is the model we work to as it’s sure eating up the 150 million plus we earned last year. We want/need detail not waffle. Again Mr Chumley where has OUR money gone.

        • Billmag

          They would be barred if they asked the question’s the hierarchy didn’t like.

        • Pezza

          Well, it would seem around £110m went on wages, £40m on other overheads

  • ash1001

    Sorry, but I have to say that you are been conned, just like any other ‘Fans’ member of the Forum in the past (myself included for 3 years), as for the clubs representatives they are all unfortunately ‘YES’ members. Have you ever heard any of then question anything Lee Charnley says, the Fans Liaison Officer just seems to take minutes without supporting any comments from the Fans Members. I would also suggest that anything mentioned in the meeting, to get a true reflection of the meeting should be included, after all the words ‘a true and proper reflection of the meeting’ come to mind.
    Sorry but in its present form it is totally worthless, which is confirmed by the way the club treat it.

  • Albert Stubbins

    What a load of total and utter b/s. Charnely explained how he arranged budget and sometimes this involves going to fat Mike for a loan? We get full houses every week and have made a fortune from player sales and tv/ premier league revenue ffs. Forum not fit for purpose. Charnely and co get off Scot free from these idiots who are ment to represent us. Clearly in fat mikes pocket. Go with him. You don’t represent us!!

  • Leazes.

    Football Focus Keegan stuff now!

    • Cockneytrev

      Just watched it,
      skirted round Ashley,,
      Another whitewash,,

      • Leazes.

        Hair, Marketing the Keegan brand, Liverpool Shankley,
        Newcastle, people around him who didn’t understand football.

        Yup…. the avoidance of anything really poignant or meaningful….. much like Jon Lane.

  • GlasgowMag

    FFS I now see why these guys were hand picked if this is the type of fan who is representing our position at these meetings. From this report everything is rosy in the garden, Lee’s a good guy, clubs just living within its means and we are really bad bad guys for not believing this BS. Please do me a favour Jon stay at home mate because you certainly don’t present me!! Ashley out!!!

  • Sickandtired

    A ‘different timescale’ for developing facilities? FFS man, it’s been talked about for over 8 years!

  • Wezza

    “He explained we spend what comes in which gives us our budget.” – Lie.

    ” we don’t have £120m arrive from the Premier League on 1st June. The majority of this comes from 3 instalments throughout the year.”

    Yes and we now have 1 instalment for this season already in. So 150M has been moved into MASH Holdings.

    Nobody should believe a word this regime now says.
    Ashley out!

    • Carverlier football

      Exactly – if he says we don’t get £120m in one go as an attempt to plead poverty, the immediate follow up question should be “so what about the second and third installment from last year? £80m? Where did that go? It’s not like we used it to buy players in January”

  • Tino11

    Hi Jon Lane,

    If you decide to sell your car or house, please let know, I’ll tell you it’s worth 50% less and you will believe me & I’ll get a great deal.

    I bet you believe the Tories when they say the economy is doing great, that there aren’t many people using food banks, that people haven’t died after being classed as ‘fit for work’ & that we are “all in this together”

    So Mr Charnley spoke in a well spoken, pleasant manner & this was enough for you to buy everything he said?

    You clearly have no critical thinking skills, you are gullible & a disgrace as a fan. Please resign.

    • Carverlier football

      Yes, well spoken and pleasant, well that’s all alright then. I know someone whose friend nannied for Jeremy Hunt. Apparently as a person he was really lovely. But that doesn’t mean that when it comes to running the NHS he wasn’t a complete Jeremy Hunt…

    • Cockneytrev

      There’s more backbone in a beached jelly fish,,,

    • Pezza

      Why are you putting a political spin on this. It often seems to come up on this forum and usually Labour scumbag voters

      • Gallowgate Dave

        You start your comment with “Why are you putting a political spin on this?” and end by calling “Labour scumbag voters”. Room temperature IQ there mind.

        • Pezza

          You know, you are right, what a clutz! it must be the smart phone’s autocorrect facility. Let me try again, I’ll type “the Labour scumbag party”, that’s right, it’s a smart phone.

  • BanJones

    We should have a qualified accountant in on these forums, someone who can spot another accountants double speak. Too little honesty – too much smoke and mirrors.

    • Pezza

      There were contributors on here that are Chartered Accountants, PercyArmsDisco, intravenous Di Milo, Ghost rider, Fleckman and ironically Ben Jones were all accountants.

      • BanJones

        Ghost rider and Ben Jones? You suprise me, I thought they wouldn’t know how to operate a crayon. I meant on the Fan’s Forum rather than this site.

        • Pezza

          Oh, the chap I know who is on the forum is very financially articulate. Not sure if he’s an accountant but has launched MBOs IPOs etc, he knows his way around a p&l.

  • Steve Smith

    The money is disappearing.

    Hypothetically you sell one player every season valued at 5 million to be paid equally across 5 seasons…

    The first season you have 1 million come in, but you then sell another player for the same arrange.

    The second season 2 million comes in and you sell another.

    The third season 3 million comes in, then the next 4 million, the next 5.

    After 5 years you will have the equivalent of the full amount coming in.

    So yes, at some point the money coming in will be less than is required, but we should only be out of pocket for that initial period. We’ve had over a decade of these arrangements now, “every penny generated” should be a lot more than we’re seeing, no matter how the club tries to spin it.

    • Cockneytrev

      Well said,,,

  • BigHairyDog

    I’ve not bothered to read the article is it worth it or just another idiot embellishing Ashley’s lies?

    • Jimmy_toons

      Don’t waste your time.

    • Pezza

      You’ve not read it but still comment? Strange that you call Jon an idiot?

  • Gallowgate Dave

    Wow I defended your original article in the comments here Jon as I think while we know the forum is limited it at least gives some opportunity to hold the “board” (mute mouthpiece Charnley) accountable to the fans, but with fans like you on the forum it’s hard to disagree with the criticism. In fact is Jon Lane a pen name for Keith Bishop?!

  • Leazes.

    I see Chris Holte thinks you have been duped too!…. the clubs TV income was paid in January and June….. you’ve been baffled by BS as they say!

    • Pezza

      Chris can and is wrong

  • Toontaff

    Jon Lane, do you live in cloud-cuckoo-land?

  • lupa

    Same old bulls**t the club’s response to any question asked so predictable.
    F**K Off Ashley