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Newcastle United agree new bonus structure plus 3 years knocked off FUN88 agreement

2 years ago

FUN88 now have only months to go as the Newcastle United kit sponsor.

With The Athletic having confirmed that next summer they will be replaced.

There had been previous claims / reports of this set to be the case but the ever reliable George Caulkin has given the full inside story.

Back in July 2020, Newcastle United (Mike Ashley) announced that the FUN88 deal had been extended, with a new ‘long-term’ arrangement in place, though no actual length of that new contract made public.

The man from The Athletic now revealing that it was actually a very length six year deal that was agreed with the Chinese betting company 25 months ago, set to run until summer 2026 in return for around £9m per season.

With shirt sponsorship one of the key areas where the new Newcastle United owners would be hoping to get far higher commercial revenues into the club, remaining tied into such a deal until 2026 was a nightmare. To put it into perspective, compared to receiving only £9m from FUN88 for the main shirt sponsorship deal, the new owners announced in June a new sleeve sponsor deal with worth a widely reported £7.5m per season.

George Caulkin though now reporting that after lengthy negotiations led by Amanda Staveley, the new NUFC owners reached agreement to knock three years off this Ashley agreed deal dating from July 2020.

This early release from the FUN88 arrangement means that Newcastle United will be free to enter a far more lucrative sponsorship deal with another business starting with the (next) 2023/24 season.

Caulkin also stating that the new owners ‘will not repeat Ashley’s mistake in renaming St James’ Park’…one of the most shameful acts (amongst the many) of Mike Ashley. Not only the fact that he renamed it the Sports Direct Arena BUT far far worse, used Newcastle United to further promote his retail business with not a single penny paid into the football club by Sports Direct in return.

Whether or not the new owners were made aware of the details of such a long deal agreed with FUN88 before getting the keys off Mike Ashley remains an unknown. Many fans fearful that Ashley would do everything in his power to undermine the chances of the new owners bringing success to Newcastle United and of course this kit sponsor deal until 2026 at such a relatively low amount (£9m per season) would have been a massive shock to the system for the Saudi Arabia PIF if they hadn’t had prior knowledge of the details before taking control.

The fact that Mike Ashley launched legal action against Amanda Staveley only months after the takeover, didn’t exactly suggest he was acting with the best intentions towards Newcastle United trying to become successful. This especially so when he ruthlessly attempted to keep his massive Sports Direct (and related companies) branding at St James’ Park (and at the training ground and everywhere else at the club) after the takeover, despite him (Mike Ashley) having been forced to admit in the course of legal proceedings, that his retail empire had not paid a penny into the club in return for the massive promotion of his brands in the 2019/20 season, the 2020/21 season AND the 2021/22 season.

Another revelation today from The Athletic, saw George Caulkin first reminding us of the yearly battle that the Newcastle United players had with Mike Ashley, to agree a bonus deal that was in line with what other Premier League clubs had in place with their squads. Ashley took this to such a ridiculous extreme that pre-season would become a battle ground with the players wanting a fair deal and the owner refusing, with sometimes even this continuing into the season with no deal agreed until the then owner eventually came to a compromise. One summer the players even went on strike, in terms of refusing to take part in certain media arrangements, until Mike Ashley relented.

Anyway, Caulkin now revealing that those chaotic days are in the past and everybody pulling together with ‘A new bonus structure has now been agreed and is in place, with everybody incentivised to reach the same targets.’


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