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Tyne Talk

Mike Ashley pet journalist admits defeat on Newcastle United takeover but bitter to the last

2 months ago
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The wheels continue to turn slowly but surely towards towards the Newcastle United takeover and the end of Mike Ashley at St James Park.

With formal confirmation / approval set to come from the Premier League any time within the next couple of weeks.

Predictably, objections have come in from various sources, however, judging on Premier League past history, it would be astonishing if the deal was halted at this very late stage.

Interesting to see this latest piece from Mike Ashley pet journalist, Martin Samuel.

The man from The Mail has resolutely defended Mike Ashley against the indefensible numerous times in the past, attacking the Newcastle fans and Rafa Benitez.

Particularly shameful was the Mike Ashley PR statement that Samuel published in July 2019, The Mail man always happy to facilitate Ashley’s message.

This new article sees, Samuel seemingly admit defeat on the Newcastle United takeover, an acceptance that his mate is going to relinquish control after 13 tortuous years.

However, nice to see that Ashley’s man is staying bitter to the last, now moving on to doing everything he can to try and dilute any elation / anticipation that Newcastle fans have about the imminent takeover.

Martin Samuel starting his piece:

‘No club has the right to reside among the elite but Newcastle have been in the doldrums for too long. It needs owners with the imagination to realise potential and maybe this new consortium will do that.

How long Newcastle will be allowed their dream, though, is another matter. Until they become a threat to some large vested interests is the best estimate. Then, watch attitudes change.’

He puts forward Financial Fair Play (FFP) as the key thing that will stop Newcastle fans having their dreams realised…

‘Newcastle’s honeymoon will last until the moment the elite feel threatened. There were two types of stories doing the rounds at the weekend. One said Newcastle’s new regime intended to abide dutifully by financial fair play rules, the other that there was £200m to spend on transfers and becoming a leading force. Can’t be done. Mutually exclusive. FFP is there to stop a club like Newcastle benefiting from owner investment.’

FFP does limit Premier League club owners in terms of money they can put into clubs to subsidise transfer fees and wages, maximum losses of £105m in any three year period.

However, Football Finance expert Kieran Maguire estimates that due to Mike Ashley restricting spending and insisting on profits in recent seasons, Newcastle would be able to spend around £150m net on players for next season, if the new owners want to do it.

For all the FFP rules haven’t helped Man City, it hasn’t exactly stopped them. When taken over in 2008, they then had Premier League finishes of 10th, 5th, 3rd and 1st. Then everything that has flowed from that, in terms of competing in the Champions League as well as winning other trophies.

Newcastle fans aren’t daft, they know that if / when the takeover happens it won’t bring instant and / or guaranteed success. More and more money will be invested in the playing squad and that will be largely reliant on the revenues growing as well.

However, Manchester City have shown how this can be achieved over time.

Mike Ashley has massively restricted and neglected the revenue streams at NUFC, simply aiming for Premier League survival and the TV money to keep things crawling along. Both commercial and matchday revenues hardly any better than when he arrived 13 years ago, whilst almost every other club have massively increased theirs. A decade of free promotion for Ashley’s retail empire, most fans refusing to buy replica shirts and other merchandise, fans boycotting games and Ashley forced to give away 10,000 free season tickets. These are just the tip of the iceberg.

No desire to chase outside commercial deals and grow the revenues, this will swiftly change if the takeover happens.

The NUFC shirt and kit sponsor deals are due for renewal at the end of this current season and little doubt that the new owners will agree significantly better deals than at present.

Martin Samuel:

‘And some will argue FFP won’t be an issue for Newcastle because they have big gates and a fanatical following, but it isn’t as simple as that. Newcastle’s kit deal with Puma is estimated to be worth £6.5million annually — that’s almost £40m down on Tottenham, close to £100m behind Liverpool.

Of course, it is reasoned Mike Ashley did not leverage enough money from the black and white brand and perhaps that is true. What is also true is Newcastle’s profile beyond these shores is comparatively slight.’

Martin Samuel also fails to properly mention / explain that FFP doesn’t include money spent on your stadium, training ground and youth development / Academy. Man City have spent massively here, so that they can attract and develop the best young players to make success sustainable, to help attract players and get the best return from them, as well as increased capacity to enable more fans to watch their team and drive up revenues.

In the article he claims that Newcastle’s lack of pedigree will be a major obstacle, with a failure to feature in Europe very often a significant obstacle (‘It is not a pedigree that instantly attracts glory-hunters in foreign markets’), ironically, Newcastle played European football (Champions League, UEFA Cup, Cup winners cup) in eight of the ten seasons before Mike Ashley came, then only of course once in 13 years under him.

Martin Samuel declares:

‘For now, Newcastle are Schalke. From Gelsenkirchen, they attract the third-highest attendances in Germany — an average of 61,044 this season — but their profile beyond is limited.

Why? Schalke have never enjoyed success in Europe’s biggest competition and haven’t won the German title since 1958.’

Going down this angle is pure ignorance.

I love the set-up of German football and fan ownership and so on but the scope of what rich owners could do at Newcastle United is massively different to what is the case in the Bundesliga.

The Premier League is the world league, the Bundesliga has nowhere near the same profile / interest.

Last (2018/19) season, when it came to making money from TV deals, 18 of the top 20 in Europe were from the Premier League, only Barca and Real Madrid from another league. The money from overseas rights is huge for the PL, plus the extra money that can be made on top of that, due to the exposure.

Newcastle were 13th highest in Europe last season on TV money, £120m after only finishing 13th in the league. Schalke only banked £69m but this was actually the third highest in the Bundesliga, despite finishing 14th in the league a complicated system of distributing cash means that it is largely based on league positions over the past five seasons, thus boosting Schalke so high. The 14th highest TV payment last season in Germany was actually only £36m, only 30% of what Newcastle received.

Bottom line is that if you are a Premier League club it puts your finances on another level, then Newcastle are a one club city and it’s a club with a massive support, with revenue streams that have been restricted, with now imminent new owners willing to also fund ambitious plans.

Success for Newcastle United will not be guaranteed under new owners but we will now have the golden ticket that buys us entry into being able to compete and grow, season after season.

As has been repeatedly said, NUFC have massive potential and as well as rich new owners, so many other factors that can help unleash a monster.

FFP may be prove a hindrance to a degree but Mike Ashley was the blockage that just couldn’t be flushed away. Until now.

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