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Adviser to Amanda Staveley fronted Saudi PIF takeover explains Newcastle training complex issues – Report

5 months ago
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The Newcastle United takeover is expected to be announced shortly, a collective effort from the Reuben brothers, Amanda Staveley and the Saudi PIF, set to change the club forever, hopefully.

Things will change but 13 years of Mike Ashley neglect can’t be put right overnight.

So many challenges on and off the pitch, what will be the priorities and how quickly can work begin on them?

The Newcastle United training complex is one area that will certainly be in the spotlight.

Now an adviser to the Amanda Staveley fronted Saudi PIF takeover bid has been speaking about the issue of the training complex and planning for what will happen once the takeover is complete.

Refreshing your memories, back in 2013 it was announced by the club that Mike Ashley had agreed a new state of the art training complex would be built ASAP and that it was essential if Newcastle were to be able to compete.

The club’s announcement (see below) in November 2013 included:

This is a hugely exciting development for Newcastle United. We have one of football’s great stadiums and we are delighted to now be announcing plans for a training complex which will rival any in Europe.

“Top players and top teams need top training and medical facilities. Our current training ground has served the Club very well but the new complex will give us all of the ingredients that we need to continue maintaining and enhancing the performance of elite footballers.

“It will also be an added attraction when we are looking to recruit players.”

However, Lee Charnley on 18 April 2019 stated:

“We are looking at a training ground building project that is potentially going to be between £15m and £20million.

“If you were to ask me now, do I think we are best served spending that on a new training facility or spending it on improving the team, now, today in the short-term, I think that money is best spent on the team.

“We have revisited the plans that came out and we now have a different design. We have also got a different build structure.

“In my experience, has a player turned round and said I’m not signing for Newcastle United because of your training facilities? No. Did it stop us getting promoted out of the Championship, did it stop us finishing tenth, did it stop us having a good season this season? No.

“Is it something at some point in the future, if we could and it was the right time to spend the money, we would look at improving? Yes.”

Previously the club had claimed that the building of the new training ground was being delayed because they didn’t want building work disrupting relegation fight(s). Now Lee Charnley was questioning whether we want new signings or this new training complex…

No reason why you can’t have both. Money spent on things such as training grounds doesn’t impact on financial fair play, so it wouldn’t impact on potential allowed training spend.

Most sensible/ambitious club owners would happily finance such a development themselves, a bit like building an extension on your house, when you come to sell the club/house, the investment/improvement you have made would then at that point lead to you getting a higher price. Very likely more than the extra money you have spent on a training ground or extension.

After leaving Newcastle United, Rafa Benitez revealed to The Times in July 2019:

“When I came to Newcastle, they gave me the plans for the new training ground, I was talking to the architect and changing a few things…And, after three years… they painted the walls.”

It is just totally embarrassing and reflects the lack of ambition throughout these 13 years.

Mike Ashley refusing to spend a penny he isn’t forced to on the infrastructure, whether the training ground, Academy or St James Park.

That is because he had no ambition for the club, long or short-term, apart from crawling season to season and hoping to keep bringing in the PL revenues and the worldwide exposure for his retail empire.

At the official NUFC fans forum, when challenged on the potential of expanding St James Park, Mike Ashley and Lee Charnley also previously used that excuse of spending on the stadium would mean less (no?!!) transfer spend. Just crazy, no wonder we have got nowhere in these 13 years, all areas of the club need to be progressed and improved.

How embarrassing is it that when one Newcastle player recovering from injury last summer, had to use the swimming pool at a local school (this was told to me by a very good source), due to the lack of facilities at the training ground?

So what can we expect moving forward…

The Athletic quoting an adviser to the Amanda Staveley fronted Saudi PIF takeover bid 9 May 2020:

“It’s literally going to be day one when we get there, we’ll be starting from scratch. There’s a lot we don’t know.

“What would we need? Can we do it all in Benton or do we need to move?

“Where could we build an alternative training ground? Who would design it? Do you have the first team and academy at two sites or together?

“We have to look at what they’ve got and not got and then formulate a set of wish-lists; what would the scouting department need, the analysts, the manager? It isn’t a case of, ‘Boom — we’re in there, let’s get going.’

“We’re excited and we’ve got lots of ideas, but this is going to take time. It might take a couple of years until we really see the fruits of it.

“We know there are certain things you just can’t do on site properly, from rehabbing injuries, preparation work and recovery, because they’re using a local gym for its pool.

“We’d want it to be bigger and better, with a world-class gym, bigger changing rooms, space for an expanded medical department and masseurs and scope for better match recovery.

“We’d want a purpose-built video room.

“The canteen is quite small. Basically, you want to encourage players to stay there longer, because then you know they’re eating properly, doing the right things, being looked after, spending time with each other.

“That’s part of the formula for a successful team.”

Newcastle United official announcement – 30 November 2013:

‘United Announce New Training Ground Plans

Newcastle United have announced plans for a stunning new state-of-the-art training complex

Newcastle United Football Club have announced plans for a stunning new state-of-the-art training complex as part of a multi-million pound redevelopment of the Club’s existing 35-acre training ground site.

The current intention is that work will get underway in May 2015 and when complete in early 2016, the Magpies will occupy one of the finest training facilities of its kind in Europe.

While existing training pitches and a modern indoor training hall will be retained, the Club’s current Training Centre building will be demolished and replaced by a much larger, high-tech structure.

It will accommodate newly-designed changing, training, rehabilitation, medical, leisure and catering facilities and will also introduce the latest aquatic technology to the site, with a 20-metre swimming pool, a hydrotherapy and fitness pool and specialist equipment to aid injury prevention and recovery.

The new construction will also create a fitness centre double the size of the Club’s existing gymnasium, as well as administrative space, a presentation suite for match analysis and a new media suite.

Newcastle United director of football, Joe Kinnear, said: “This is a hugely exciting development for Newcastle United. We have one of football’s great stadiums and we are delighted to now be announcing plans for a training complex which will rival any in Europe.

“Top players and top teams need top training and medical facilities. Our current training ground has served the Club very well but the new complex will give us all of the ingredients that we need to continue maintaining and enhancing the performance of elite footballers.

“It will also be an added attraction when we are looking to recruit players.”

The new training complex has been designed to fit within the Club’s impressive environmental policy, building on the Magpies’ achievement of becoming the world’s first carbon neutral football club in 2012.

A formal planning application is to be submitted shortly before a tender process begins.’

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