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Leicester City deliver new stark reminder on just how far behind Newcastle United are

1 year ago

For many Newcastle United fans, Leicester City have been the club in recent years that really rubbed it in.

Looking at what the East Midlands club’s owners have achieved when making realistic but ambitious investment on AND off the pitch.

Whilst at the same time Mike Ashley did the exact opposite…

Whilst Newcastle United have faced one relegation battle after another, these past seven seasons have seen Leicester City win the Premier League, win the FA Cup, play regular European football, reach the quarter-finals of the Champions League, three top five finishes, only once dropping lower than ninth (12th in 2016/17 when NUFC were in the Championship!).

For those who think what happens off the pitch doesn’t affect that much what happens on it…think again.

The refusal of Mike Ashley to allow any proper investment in off the pitch facilities AND personnel, undoubtedly impacted on Newcastle United when it came to (lack of) success on the pitch.

This is maybe best summed up by the tale of woe surrounding the new state of the art NUFC training complex. Mike Ashley announced nine years ago, back in 2013, that this was essential if Newcastle United were going to be able to compete.

Laid out below is that tale of woe, with the disgraceful Lee Charnley then repeatedly coming out with laughable excuses down the years that saw not a single brick ever laid on this ‘essential’ new state of the art training complex. In April 2019 Charnley declaring (see below) ‘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.’

Absolutely pathetic, contradicting so much of what Mike Ashley put out when announcing the new training ground project six years earlier. Just embarrassing, how could Lee Charnley know why every player turned down signing for Newcastle United? Did they used to send them a questionnaire afterwards???

Under Mike Ashley in his 14+ year reign, Newcastle United had the lowest spend of all Premier League clubs on capital expenditure, the spending on the infrastructure – St James’ Park, training ground, Academy etc…

Not so Leicester City.

It is almost as though there is some kind of bizarre connection when it comes to showing ambition, putting in the necessary realistic investment…and then the chances of success on the pitch.

The new Newcastle United owners have taken a slightly different approach to Mike Ashley…

As soon as they got the keys to NUFC back in October 2021, the new owners said that one of the priorities was a new state of the art training complex, to help Newcastle United compete with the rest of the top tier.

This past week it was revealed that plans have been drawn up by architects for the new training complex to be potentially located near Newcastle racecourse, that understood to be the current favourite but other locations still under consideration.

Whilst this massive longer-term project is being worked on, at the same time the new owners couldn’t allow the farcical situation to continue at the current training facility.

The new owners putting in plans to North Tyneside council for improvements to be made to the current facilities in the meantime, making clear the current training complex is not fit for purpose, stating that it “falls significantly below the Premier League and perhaps even Championship standards” when submitting those improvement plans.

Those plans were passed and work is now underway.

Leicester City on the other hand just got on and did what they could to help keep their club succeeding on the pitch, in 2020 their £95m new training complex opening.

Ahead of this 2022/23 Premier League season kicking off, Leicester City proudly putting out this aerial video of their players preparing for the new season at the stunning facility.

Interesting to note as well, whilst Leicester City spent £95m on their top notch new training complex, back in April 2019 Lee Charnley stated that the new Newcastle United state of the art training complex would cost £15m-£20m when / if it was built.

Now I’m no expert in the building game BUT if Leicester City spent £95m on theirs, what on earth were Newcastle United going to get for £15m or so???

Mike Ashley put out this Newcastle United Official Announcement – 30 November 2013:

‘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.

The new eco-friendly building will be made from cross-laminated timber (CLT) sourced from sustainable forests and will produce its own energy from a combined heat and power (CHP) plant room.

A formal planning application is to be submitted shortly before a tender process begins. For exclusive images, click here.

The Club’s official website, will continue to bring supporters exclusive updates on the project as they happen.’

Lee Charnley 18 April 2019 – as reported by Martin Hardy (one of a number of selected journalists invited to speak to Lee Charnley after the 2017/18 NUFC accounts were published):

“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.”

Lee Charnley quotes in The Chronicle – 14 August 2019:

“It is about priorities.

“There is a pot of money. Where is the greater need? At this time it’s on field.

“It’s not unreasonable, the pot of money can only go so far.

“You go and spend it on the training ground it means there is less to spend on the team.

“Spend it on the Academy, there is less to spend on the team.

“Spend too much on wages, there’s less to spend on the team.

“That doesn’t mean we don’t spend in all those areas, because we do, but our view has been at this point in time the priority is what goes on to the field.”

“It doesn’t mean we don’t want to update the training ground.

“Does it mean at some point in time we would like to update the training ground? Absolutely, yes.

“It is about priorities. It doesn’t stop us doing what we need to do on a daily basis.

“Our pitches are very good, our gym is perfectly adequate and functional.

“Do we have a swimming pool or water facilities? No.

“Would we like to have it at some stage? Absolutely.”


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