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Mike Ashley communicates with Newcastle United fans and still they’re not happy…

1 week ago
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It might have taken 2 months but Mike Ashley and Lee Charnley have finally come good on their promises.

Back on 11 August 2019, Lee Charnley apologised to Newcastle United fans on behalf of both Mike Ashley and himself.

Lee Charnley saying (well, words attributed to him in the match programme for Steve Bruce’s first match): ‘There is certainly a need to communicate more as a club and to let fans know where we are heading collectively.’

Yet on Friday 3 September 2021, Mike Ashley made it very clear in his public statement (see below), where we all are ‘heading collectively’…very likely, the Championship!

Lee Charnley in the match programme for the Arsenal match on Sunday 11 August 2019:

“We go into today’s match following changes on and off the pitch over the summer months.

“I appreciate it has been at times, and certainly during the early part of the break, a period of uncertainty for supporters.

“We want to communicate clearly and proactively, but it is important that we do so at the right time.

“Sometimes we must adopt a ‘no comment’ policy and I accept that can be – and has been – frustrating. There are reasons behind that approach.

“Often, there are legalities at play or we may take the decision in order to respect the integrity of a process or the individuals involved. What we won’t do is fuel speculation by offering a running commentary.

“Instead, when we have something definitive to say, we will say it, as we did as soon as Rafa’s position became clear.

“We understand and expected the disappointment that Rafa’s departure caused. We strongly believe we went beyond what could reasonably be asked in order to keep him. But let’s be clear, he moved to China for money.

“Whilst I have stated above that I felt our approach during the summer was necessary, 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…”

That Lee Charnley column was really only about nine words of course, to try and make out that Rafa was the villain of this situation: ‘let’s be clear, he moved to China for money.’

Lee Charnley (words by Keith Bishop?) admitted that communication from the club to fans had been shamefully lacking and promised that this was now a new era when they most definitely would be keeping Newcastle supporters abreast of what is happening…”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…”

So what did Mike Ashley and his minions actually communicate to us all on Friday?

Well to me…Ashley has said that due to him forcing Rafa Benitez out, with the combined brilliance of himself (Ashley) and Steve Bruce, a load of money has been wasted on signing Joelinton, Lewis, Krafth, Fraser, Bentaleb, Rose, Lazaro, Carroll, Gillespie, Willems and Hendrick, none of who are first eleven choices at the club now. Only the £65m trio of ASM, Wilson and Willock are first team certainties (when fit), out of the £160m Mike Ashley claims has been spent on players since July 2019 when Steve Bruce arrived.

The other masterstroke, as well as this signing of players almost all of whom aren’t good enough for the first team, has been to give pretty much all the pre-existing players new contracts / extended deals in the past year, instead of bringing in new players. Since 10 September 2020, Joe Willock is the only first team squad player that has been brought in.

Mike Ashley instead thinking it is a genius move to instead just give new deals to existing players in a rapidly ageing squad, with around half the squad in their thirties by the time we get to the end of this season.

The club’s owner than finding it incredible that other clubs haven’t been falling over themselves to pay big money this summer for these mostly ageing players on their way down in terms of their careers, many of them part of the squad put together for promotion over five years ago.

The net outcome of wasting loads of money on mainly rubbish non-first team signings and giving even longer contracts to players that no other Premier League clubs want, is that Newcastle United can’t even allow any loan signings this summer, only the Joe Willock signing (that will be paid mainly in future instalments).

Mike Ashley (Justin Barnes, Keith Bishop…) ending with a rallying cry of…’a strong belief in its current squad. We have a talented and committed group of players who have shown that they are fully capable of delivering and we ask all our loyal supporters to get behind their team, because we are stronger together.’

Stronger together? Well, apart that is from the 10,000+ season ticket holders who have walked away due to the Ashley / Charnley/ Bruce nonsense (and the many many more who had already previously walked away and / or simply refuse to go whilst this owner remains), over 8,000 empty seats already for only the second PL home match (non-televised at 3pm on a sunny Saturday afternoon).

Just looking at the second line of this Mike Ashley message to Newcastle fans, the words ‘ambitious’, ‘commitment’ and ‘principle’ all used, you really have to laugh at the sheer nerve of Ashley as we nosedive into this fifteenth season of his ownership that has never featured any sign of that trio or words.

Mike Ashley statement released via Newcastle United – Friday 3 September 2021:

Newcastle United would like to provide supporters with an update in relation to the approach taken to the summer 2021 transfer window.

Our commitment to being run in a sustainable manner, which secures the financial viability of the club, is a longstanding one. This does not come at the expense of being ambitious, and it is built on the core principle that we will spend what we have.

The cash generated each year through matchday and non-matchday activities, plus any transfer fees received from player sales, determines how much is available to spend. This relates not only to first team playing squad expenditure, but to all other areas of the club. In simple terms, there is one pot of money and spending in one area reduces the amount available for others.

In a ‘normal’ year, our operating model would generate sufficient funds to enable us to make one or two quality first team additions, as well as investing in other areas. This approach takes time and requires careful management and long-term planning, ensuring that we spend the money we generate wisely to benefit the club.

The last two years have been challenging, with Covid-19 having a considerable impact on the club’s finances and therefore the amount of cash we have available to spend. Internally, all parties have long been aware of the budgetary parameters under which we are operating.

Ahead of the summer transfer window and having made a significant impact after arriving on loan in January 2021, Joe Willock was identified as the club’s primary target.

Once it was confirmed that the player would be available on a permanent deal, a collaborative decision was taken to pursue this option. All parties were aware as to the implications for further squad consolidation, with the collective view being that securing Joe Willock was the right priority. There was a shared understanding that further additions to the playing squad would be heavily influenced by player trading, both in terms of available funds and space in the squad.

The deal to bring Joe Willock to the club was formally completed on Friday 13th August 2021 and we are beyond delighted to have secured him.

Our preference to pay transfer fees up front, rather than spreading payments over several years, is well documented. We believe this approach to be in the club’s long-term interests, giving the club far greater certainty and control over its spending in future windows and seasons.

In negotiating/securing this deal post Covid-19, we acknowledged the need to make an exception and, on this occasion, have spread the transfer fee over instalments. We did so this summer to secure a player who we know makes us stronger and who our head coach was unequivocal in his desire to sign.

Since summer 2019, the club has made nine permanent signings and taken five players on loan. Our net spend over this period is c£120m* (£160m spent on players and £40m received from sales). We have delivered on our commitment to spending what we have, and indeed because of our business this summer, have spent more to secure our primary target. To suggest otherwise is misleading and claims that money has been taken out of the club are wholly untrue.

For context, this summer, Sky Sports reported that Newcastle United’s net spend was the tenth highest in the Premier League. The club retained its best players despite the obvious financial challenges.

Having finished last season in 12th place in the Premier League, and in the top six of the form table over the final nine fixtures, the club at all levels maintains a strong belief in its current squad. We have a talented and committed group of players who have shown that they are fully capable of delivering and we ask all our loyal supporters to get behind their team, because we are stronger together.

*Net spend includes assumptions around contingent transfer fees (often dependent on player appearances/league status etc) and those considered likely to fall due at some future date as well as any guaranteed deferred fees. Likewise, not all the fees due to the club have necessarily been received to date.

Put simply, £120m represents our best estimate of the spend the club has made or has committed to make because of the deals done during the five transfer windows since summer 2019 onwards – which is not the same thing as the actual cash in and out during that same period. This approach reflects the reality that trading done in any transfer window flows through into the club’s day to day cash balances over a period of time.’

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