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Mike Ashley cunning Newcastle United transfer policy hit by 20% surcharge

3 years ago

When NUFC only reached survival on the very final day of the 2014/15 Premier League season, Mike Ashley reacted by going with a radical new Newcastle United transfer policy.

More money was spent in summer 2015 than had ever been sent before in a Newcastle United transfer window.

Cash that had accumulated was now allowed to be spent, with over £50m spent on four first team signings, all costing £10m+.

To ensure there would be no repeat of the previous season’s near relegation, Newcastle brought in

£15m Gini Wijnaldum

£14m Aleksandar Mitrovic

£14m Florian Thauvin

£10m Chancel Mbemba

Four players unproven in the Premier League brought in from weaker overseas leagues – a perception that on the continent it would be better value.

Also, there was a strict age policy: two 20 year old (Mitro and Mbemba), a 22 year old (Thauvin) and a 24 year old (Wijnaldum). All players of an age with a potential for high resale value.

Another change was that Mike Ashley made it official that the person in charge of training and the team would be doing just that and nothing else, Steve McClaren given the title of Head Coach rather than Manager and no real say/authority on transfers in and out. It was never publicly acknowledged who was choosing the signings but the assumption was Graham Carr.

What could possibly go wrong?

Well, basically the ‘plan’ was nonsense.

The manager (head coach) not being able to decide which positions needed strengthening or which signings would come in and instead soem other mystery person deciding the Newcastle United transfer policy.

Then the very obvious fact that the head coach who had been appointed should never have got the job, having been sacked by a Championship club recently.

Plus the idea that what a weak team/squad that had been battling relegation needed, was unproven young players from weaker overseas leagues who had never played in the Premier League before, was daft beyond doubt.

Eventually a few quid was made on Mitro and Wijnaldum and a few quid lost on Mbemba and Thuavin.

However, the bigger and only important picture, was that this ridiculous Newcastle United transfer policy had led directly to relegation, a second one for Mike Ashley in a run of seven Premier League seasons.

Rafa Benitez knocking on the door after McClaren’s belated sacking was a godsend for Mike Ashley, desperate to get back to Premier League revenues and worldwide advertising for his retail empire, the NUFC owner allowed Rafa a decent transfer window spend of over £50m (whic also provided the owner with a £40m net profit) with promises of further support for the new manager in future transfer windows.

That summer 2016 transfer window couldn’t have been more different than a year earlier, backed into such a corner, Mike Ashley was forced to accept Rafa’s initial transfer window demands, instead of untried overseas players, Benitez brought in nine players from English clubs and eight of them had played in the Premier League. Three signings from overseas also arrived.

After that initial first window, Mike Ashley refused to back his manager, leading to zero net spend over the entire time Rafa Benitez was at St James Park.

Widespread reporting stated that Mike Ashley was refusing to allow the manager transfer funds because Rafa wouldn’t agree to target Ashley’s preferred young unproven high potential resale overseas signings.

The top class manager left with no alternative but to walk away.

So summer 2019, what do we have?

Mike Ashley once again making it official that the person in charge of training and the team would be doing just that and nothing else, Steve Bruce given the title of Head Coach rather than Manager and no real say/authority on transfers in and out. Also, just like in 2016, a new head coach who should never have got the job (sacked by a Championship nine months earlier and a woeful PL record) and no other Premier League club would have appointed. Fans left in the dark as to exactly who will be choosing the signings but made clear that it isn’t Steve Bruce, with the first signing set to be Joelinton.

A 22 year old who has never played in the Premier League and has played most of his football in very weak overseas leagues, apart from 25 starts in the Bundesliga which is still lower quality than the English top tier.

Finally, Mike Ashley allowing the cash to be released now his preferred type of signing will be made, estimates of the transfer fee ranging from £36m to £53m.

Is Joelinton a signing Steve Bruce wants/needs? Who knows…but what we know for sure is he is playing no part in this and no doubt any other signings, with this deal having been set up long before Bruce was appointed.

Whatever other buys are made in these next three weeks, I think we can be pretty sure they will be in the younger age range. We may well see more money spent in this window than ever before, indeed I would be amazed if that doesn’t happen now, it doesn’t though necessarily equal it being the right thing to do.

Indeed, I find it difficult to see anything else other than a repeat of that disastrous 2015/16 season.

To make the situation even more ludicrous, this mad rush back to signing young unproven overseas players with the high resale value, any potential value is far reduced.

Back in summer 2015, we saw an exchange rate where a pound was equal to 1.44 euros.

Today, Friday 19 July, a pound gets you 1.11 euros.

As anybody who is heading off this summer to a euro country on holiday will tell you, your pound doesn’t go very far. Indeed, at places such as airports, you may even find that you get less than one euro in exchange for one pound.

What this means when buying players, is that Mike Ashley’s/ Newcastle United’s pound won’t go nearly as far either, such as when buying Joelinton. In fact, compared to that summer 2015 window, effectively you will now be paying over 20% more in real terms when buying from a club in a country that uses the euro.

It was a very similar story when buying Almiron in January, as the pound is also so weak against the dollar. Financial experts are predicting it could indeed get far far worse if a no deal Brexit happens, with exchange rates set to slide significantly further.

For example, look at that £16.5m Newcastle could have signed Salomon Rondon for, or indeed other Premier League proven players Rafa Benitez may have had in mind.

Mike Ashley knows best though and whatever does or doesn’t happen in these remaining three weeks of the transfer window, this latest (renewed) Newcastle United transfer policy is very very likely going to make it very likely we will see a repeat of that 2015/16 season unless Ashley carries a great deal of luck this time.


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