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Does this confirm Lee Charnley has been furloughed by Mike Ashley?

2 weeks ago
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Lee Charnley is the Managing Director of Newcastle United.

Lee Charnley is on the board of Newcastle United.

Lee Charnley is the only person on the board of Newcastle United.

Alan Shearer is a Newcastle United legend, the club’s record goalscorer, a lifelong Newcastle fan, this morning he had a question.

Alan Shearer writing in The Athletic – 14 January 2021 (Today):

“Where is Lee Charnley?

“What happened to that statement of his where he admitted the error of not communicating with fans? Where is his backing for the manager? Where is the strategy? Come on, Lee, where are you? Where is anyone, aside from Steve [Bruce]?

“I can’t believe he’s having to deal with questions about furloughing staff, giving tickets away, about coronavirus, about a takeover. These shouldn’t be issues for the manager. It’s a tough and lonely enough job as it is. The point is, he’s on his own.

“It would have been the same if somebody else had come in and it will be the same for the next manager and the one after that if nothing else changes, because it’s the way Newcastle are built under [Mike] Ashley.

“This is not the Newcastle United we all want and this is not the Newcastle United we should accept.”

The statement that Alan Shearer refers to above, was made 17 months ago, before Steve Bruce had taken charge of a single match (Bruce will take charge of NUFC game number 68 at Arsenal on Monday).

Lee Charnley in the Newcastle v Arsenal programme notes (see below) from 11 August 2019, where he said that he and Mike Ashley had badly let down both the Newcastle fans and previous managers / head coaches, in terms of communicating. The NUFC Managing Director (and only board member) promising to now (17 months ago) put it right…

Lee Charnley quotes from match programme on 11 August 2019, Newcastle v Arsenal:

I accept we need to do more from a communication perspective moving forward.

“There is certainly a need to communicate more as a club and to let fans know where we are heading collectively.

“That goes beyond the responsibility of just the head coach or manager in isolation; something we have relied on far too heavily in the past.

“We want to give you more of an insight into what happens across the club and you will therefore be hearing more from me, as you are today…”

Whilst many children enjoy the ‘Where’s Wally’ books, where they are challenged to look for where the Wally character is hiding, on Tyneside we also have a Wally that is difficult to spot but the name of the game isn’t quite as catchy – ‘Where’s Lee Charnley?’

On Thursday early evening, NUST (Newcastle United Supporters Trust) revealed that they were granted a ‘Meeting with NUFC’ last week via Zoom.

So what did Lee Charnley have to say then?

Well, the only senior figure at Newcastle United, the only board member and the only senior executive, was nowhere to be seen. Obviously Lee Charnley too busy dealing with all his media commitments on behalf of Newcastle United, keeping the fans updated etc etc.

In all seriousness though, instead of talking to the only person with any (supposed) authority on the entire Newcastle United non-footballing side of staff, the NUST board members instead spoke to Lee Marshall. Yes, instead of where’s Wally / Lee, you will be asking Who’s Lee? Just a member of staff who works on the media side at NUFC, not a board member, not the only named senior executive.

So the question we have to be asking is: ‘Does this confirm Lee Charnley has been furloughed by Mike Ashley?’

As surely, at the very least, after 17 months of refusing to follow up on those August 2019 promises, Lee Charnley could at least of put aside an hour (it was on Zoom, so he could have done it from home, or under his desk, or wherever else he happens to be in hiding), unless of course Mike Ashley has indeed furloughed Lee Charnley and he isn’t allowed to work.

You may think that asking this question is a bit tongue in cheek BUT honestly, with all the other nonsense that happens at our football club and Mike Ashley the only Premier League owner (Norwich did but were relegated) to have used tax payers money to pay so many of his staff, would you really be that surprised if it did turn out that Lee Charnley was spending winter at home on the furlough?

It would certainly be a more reasonable explanation of why he has never been seen, as opposed to why he refuses to do what he promised.

On a more serious note, this absolutely sums up how this joke of a football club is run, from Mike Ashley through to Lee Charnley, the ghostly figure of Justin Barnes, Steve Bruce, the list goes on…

NUST update to members – Thursday 14 January 2021:

NUST Update: Meeting with NUFC

Dear Members,

I hope you all managed to have a great Christmas and I wish you all the best for the New Year. Unfortunately, the festive period has seen us pick up one point, score one goal from open play and get knocked out of two cups! The wonderful world of following Newcastle United! I wanted to provide you wish a short update on Trust matters.

Last week the Board and I met with Lee Marshall, the Head of Media and Content, and also the dedicated Supporter Liaison Officer, at Newcastle United FC. The meeting took place via Zoom and this was a chance for newly elected Board members to meet Lee for the first time. We discussed a number of topics including engagement between the Trust and the club, engagement (or lack of) between the club and its supporters, the need for improvements to season ticket refund processes, the return of fans to St. James’ Park (eventually, we will be back) and our work with the Newcastle United Foundation. There are a number of outstanding actions from previous meetings which we chased for progress and await further updates from the club.

We remain of the view that it is vital that a transparent relationship between the trust and Newcastle United exists and the club appears to recognise the need for that relationship to prosper. The supporters’ trust exists to represent you to the football club and the board will continue to seek to do that in all our dealings with the club to the best of our ability. We will not, and do not, always agree with the club and their approach on various issues and we will continue to make representations to them on your behalf no matter how difficult the relationship is between the club and its supporters. It is our job to be a critical friend but in a transparent and constructive manner. It is to that end that I contacted the club on Wednesday to express the significant concerns of the Board that the club appears to have not learned lessons from the 2015/16 season and that the club is in real danger of sleepwalking to relegation. The performance at Sheffield United was simply unacceptable, but it was not unexpected for anyone that has watched the full 90 minutes of all our games this season.

Alan Shearer summed the wider relationship between the club and the fan base well today in his column for The Athletic “It’s a club which has no real relationship with its supporters. It’s a club that’s creaking, that’s existing and very little else. It needs hope again. It needs love”.

The Trust has achieved a lot in the last few years, from our work campaigning for season ticket refunds through to live events, representing the views of our members in local, national and international media, lobbying the Premier League for transparency, and engaging legal counsel to write to the Premier League, to our work with the Newcastle United Foundation to run mental health workshops and more.

We have been continuing to work hard on a number of key areas in the last six months through communication with the Football Supporters Association and the Newcastle United Foundation and other key community partners, and this work will continue into 2021 and beyond. With a strong member base we have grown a significant and influential fan movement, with a growing influence and a stronger reach and we will continue to seek to develop and grow as an organisation to better represent our members.

We will be in touch with more news from the Trust over the coming weeks and months, I hope you and your families stay safe and well. In the meantime, I joined Vice Chair Thomas Concannon on the Gallowgate Shots podcast earlier this week to discuss all things NUST – you can re-watch that session on YouTube here. Adam Beckett, Marc Corby and I will also be live on the NUFC Matters podcast on Sunday 17th January from 6pm for a live Q&A.

Finally – the Board and our Council volunteers give up their spare time to represent our members and to give you a louder collective voice. One of our key challenges is to grow our message offline, so a polite ask to all our members – to reach out to a family member or friend that isn’t a member and isn’t active on social media – and try and get them signed up to the trust! It’s only £2 to join and then £1 therein each year afterwards, as cheap as we can possibly make it because we want the Trust to be open and available to all Newcastle United supporters.

Best wishes on behalf of the Board

Greg Tomlinson – Chair’

(To join 14,000+ other fans as members of the Newcastle United Supporters Trust go HERE)

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