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Opinion

Newcastle United Takeover – Why Charlton and not us?

7 months ago
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Like most supporters I dream of the day when Mike Ashley and his minions leave our club in a Newcastle United Takeover and we can once again be truly described as ‘Newcastle United’.

Living in South East London, I’ve been able to witness, first hand, what happens when an unpopular owner leaves a club and the lift that gives to its supporters.

Ronald Duchalet had been in charge of Charlton since 2014. In that time he got rid of managers and star players who stood up to him, brought in yes-men to do his bidding, recruited players who the managers neither asked for or wanted, hardly ever attended any matches, didn’t communicate with the fans and made no attempt to understand what the club was about.

During his five year dictatorship, thousands of season ticket holders deserted the club (Does this all sound familiar?).

When news of the takeover first surfaced, my Charlton supporting friends were full of stories about the superstars who might be on their way to The Valley such as Ronaldo and Bale and Messi…but now things have settled down, there are more realistic stories about the club strengthening the squad, looking to expand the fan base, investing in the club’s infrastructure and having real dialogue with the fans.

The new owners have also said they will be attending matches at The Valley on a regular basis.

As a Newcastle fan I am pleased that my Charlton supporting friends can now look forward to a brighter future but I also feel envious.

Whenever I hear the news of a takeover of a club and the departure of an unpopular owner, my first thought is ‘why can’t that be us?’

I guess the straight answer to that question is because no one thinks the club is worth the £300-350 million that Mike Ashley allegedly wants for it and unfortunately, it’s hard to see Newcastle United increasing in value as he drives away supporters and fails to invest in either the team or the infrastructure of the club.

Ronald Duchalet sold Charlton at the most opportune time as they had just returned to the Championship via the play-offs, so he got the best price (£50m)for his asset.

I would have said that Mike Ashley was in a similar position last season when we had a world class manager, a team that looked like it could hold it’s own in The Premiership and fans and players who were united behind the manager. Unfortunately, that moment has now passed.

If you look at this from the point of view of an investor I can see why paying £50 million for Charlton looks a far better bet than paying £300-350 million for Newcastle.

Charlton are a Championship team with some good young players, a popular young manager, a decent academy and with a great record of engaging with the local community. With a reasonable amount of investment in the first team they could easily find themselves in the Premiership and being based in London they’ll find it easier to attract players to the club.

The new owners also won’t have to spend lots of money on the infrastructure as unlike Mike Ashley, Ronald Duchalet did put money into the training ground and the stadium.

Newcastle United, by contrast, are a Premiership team but not an established Premiership team having spent most of the last decade either fighting relegation or trying to get back into the Premiership.

The first team squad is in need of significant investment, the academy is not up to the standard of other Premiership teams, both the training ground and the stadium need money putting into them and attendances have been plummeting. Any new owners would have to invest a large amount of money on top of their initial investment to right all the wrongs of the Mike Ashley regime.

I just hope there is someone out there with deep pockets who can see past the sad state of Newcastle United under Mike Ashley and recognise what a vibrant football club this has been in the past and could be in the future.

I also hope that Mike Ashley and his minions realise that far from making slow and steady progress, the club is in long-term decline and the only way to reverse that decline (and for Mike Ashley to still get a reasonable return on his investment) is to sell up as soon as possible.

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