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Media yet again desperate to keep Newcastle United in their place – Here’s latest patronising garbage

12 months ago

The media are relentless with Newcastle United.

They are absolutely desperate to keep Newcastle United and the NUFC fans in their place.

Any negative angle that can be pursued, you will find journalists doing so. Whether it is true or not, whether the story holds water or not, is unimportant.

No other football club is covered remotely the same as Newcastle United.

This was true pre-takeover as well.

From 7 October 2021 it has simply got far far worse.

Here’s the latest patronising garbage…

The Mirror report on Newcastle United – 4 March 2023:

‘Newcastle fans are surely not interested in growing the brand, they are not interested in buying Dijon; they want a winning team’

Amanda Staveley betrayed Sir Bobby Robson with Newcastle plan showing no regard for fans

Newcastle director Amanda Staveley was speaking at the so-called Business of Football Summit when she suggested the Magpies’ board could pursue a ‘multi-club’ model

At St James’ Park, they celebrated this seminal Sir Bobby Robson quote on what would have been the great man’s 90th birthday. A fortnight later, Amanda Staveley described Newcastle United as a ‘brand’. A brand.

Quite what Sir Bobby would have made of that, who knows? Actually, we all know. It would have been the same reaction to something entitled the Business of Football Summit – at which Stavelely was speaking – and it would have been the same reaction to her suggestions Newcastle would go down the ‘multi-club’ path.

By multi-club, Staveley was referring to the trend of big clubs owning, or part-owning, a stable of smaller outfits across the globe. But if ever there was a stand-alone club, surely it is Sir Bobby’s Newcastle United?

By its nature, by its fanbase, by its geographical position at the summit of a great city, it stands alone. But Staveley, intoxicated by bringing the Saudis to the Premier League and the decent form of the football team, cannot help herself.

Newcastle have won a few games in the Premier League, got to the final of the Carabao Cup and, all of a sudden, it’s all about ‘brand’ and ‘multi-club’ and ‘growth’. Here’s an idea. Before you can run with the commercial giants of the football world, learn how to walk on the treadmill of winning or regularly contending for major trophies.

That is what Manchester City have done, to be fair.

…a word of advice for the Newcastle United board. The fans are surely not interested in growing the brand, they are not interested in buying Dijon (the French club, not the mustard) or Slask Wroclaw.

They want a winning team, they believe they are unique and they want to remain unique. And Sir Bobby would have wanted the same.’

If this doesn’t shout ‘Newcastle United / Newcastle United fans know your place’, I’m not sure what does.

The fact that The Mirror and their journalist Andy Dunn actually use Newcastle United fans and Sir Bobby Robson to have a go at…Newcastle United fans and their club, is quite incredible.

Amanda Staveley was just one of many key speakers asked to talk at the well established Financial Times Business of Football summit in London this past week. Other key speakers invited, included Javier Tebas who is President of La Liga, Richard Masters (CEO of Premier League) and Everton owner Farhad Moshiri.

If this had been a director or CEO of any other Premier League club than Newcastle United, not a single journalist would have  gone on like this, when reporting on what Amanda Staveley had said.

Have you ever heard such nonsense as this from The Mirror?

‘Newcastle fans are surely not interested in growing the brand, they are not interested in buying Dijon; they want a winning team’

Amanda Staveley betrayed Sir Bobby Robson with Newcastle plan showing no regard for fans’

Yes, how dare the Newcastle United owners AND their fans wanting to elbow their way to the top table, wanting to compete on AND off the pitch…because make no mistake, this is exactly what has to happen, if Newcastle are now going to be a long-term success story, able to compete over the years ahead, in the short, medium and long-term.

It is not an either or.

To be able to compete on the pitch over a long period of time, you also have to compete off the pitch.

In October 2021, the new Newcastle United owners inherited an absolute shell of a football club ran by a skeleton staff, with don’t laugh, Lee Charnley and Steve Bruce the most senior official (as opposed to shadowy Ashley non-official NUFC figures such as Sports Direct figures Justin Barnes and Keith Bishop) members of the hierarchy at the football club.

The new NUFC owners faced with a staggering list of essentials, if they club is ever going to be able to compete:

An entire new hierarchy of senior staff to run the club, both on the pitch and on the business side (not Steve Bruce and Lee Charnley).

A new first team playing squad.

An entire new board of directors (Lee Charnley was the only NUFC director, he was the entire official ‘board’).

A new state of the art, fit for purpose, training complex.

Expand St James’ Park to its maximum potential capacity.

A new Academy, with resources and facilities to help produce the best possible players of the future.

A new properly resourced and expanded scouting network.

A top team of professionals to run chase commercial revenue.

A properly resourced and supported women’s team set-up.

The list was endless…

The reason Manchester United and Liverpool are very very difficult (impossible?) to dislodge from the top table, is directly due to their ‘branding’…these past 50 or 60 years have seen the Man U and Liverpool brands put them in such powerful positions. When their serious success on the pitch came along on the pitch in the 60s (Man U) and 70s (Liverpool) it coincided with TV becoming such a massive thing. They became world clubs / brands long before the Premier League came along in 1992 and very quickly ensured that the EPL became far and beyond the world’s league, the established ‘branding’ of Liverpool and Man U simply meaning they could take advantage more than any other PL club of making even more money due to their commercial deals, sponsorship and fanbases around the globe.

This of course also largely explains why say Leicester City couldn’t sustain their breakthrough success of winning the Premier League, they sustained that success to an extent on the pitch for a few years (two fifth place finishes and winning the FA Cup) BUT off the pitch the writing is very much on the wall. Unlike Newcastle United (in my opinion) they can’t grow their brand sufficiently to compete longer-term. This applies to other clubs as well, likes of West Ham and Everton, who have had relative success in recent times but have a glass ceiling of how big they can be, even Tottenham as well I think – certainly in terms of when it comes to challenging the size and reach of Liverpool and Man Utd.

For The Mirror to use Sir Bobby Robson against the current ambition that is being shown at St James’ Park is laughable.

He was the stand out English manager, he managed his national side and then went and managed in five different spells at clubs overseas, in Portugal, Holland and Spain. Sir Bobby would have known more than any other English football manager, just what the power of ‘branding’ could do.

He managed at Barcelona, a club that owes so much to their branding and the cash it pulls in due to their worldwide appeal.

This past week, the Sports Business Institute produced a report that showed the percentage of total revenues that comes from Commercial Revenue (sponsorship, commercial deals generally etc), they looked at the 2023 Deloitte report which focused on the 20 clubs in the world that bring in the most cash overall, figures from the 2021/22 season (during which the NUFC takeover happened):

As you can see, a massive 45% of the total Barcelona and Real Madrid cash comes from commercial revenue. On top of that, I have read before how both these clubs regularly attract 20,000 football tourists to home games. This is all to do with ‘branding’ and growing the appeal of their clubs, so that people will spend serious money on tickets and merchandise etc when visiting. One thing for sure, they aren’t exactly attracted by the chance to see Barca play the likes of Almeria or Elche in La Liga.

Once again, for Newcastle United to become a big success on the pitch long-term, they have to become a big success off it. Whether you describe this as branding, commercial revenue, whatever, it all means the same.

Sir Bobby Robson when he was at Barcelona AND Newcastle United would have totally understood how important the business side of football is. That massively dictates how powerful (or not…) you can be when paying transfer fees and wages.

Anyway, Amanda Staveley was asked to speak at the Financial Times Business of Football summit, she wasn’t invited for a chat with a group of fans down the pub. How else exactly was she supposed to speak??? Right across the event this past week in Mayfair, London, this is how everybody at the FT summit would have been speaking, about brands etc. This is not disrespectful to football fans, it is just common sense AND reinforces that to be successful in football these days, you have to be all powerful off the pitch and dive in with the sharks, you have to compete with them in every way.

You have to laugh when you think back at how pathetic the media were across 14 seasons of Mike Ashley at Newcastle United.

He was keen at every opportunity to talk Newcastle United down. Along the lines of how can little NUFC hope to compete with these massive clubs (the PL ‘big’ six and those abroad). Quite unbelievable, then at the same time he was seriously restricting and commercial NUFC growth on purpose, sucking out all the benefits for himself and his retail empire, at the expense of Newcastle United.

Honestly, if you want a perfect indication of just how easily Mike Ashley got away with stuff, what about this.

He renamed St James’ Park the Sports Direct Arena and not a penny was paid from SD for the privilege.

Ashley actually came out and justified it by saying that, by Sports Direct getting the naming rights for £0, that was only being done to help get a high paying stadium sponsor in the future.

Can you honestly believe that? It is the truth though, a big reason as to why he had the audacity to claim such a thing, is because the media totally failed to challenge this ridiculous nonsense.

Which other major football club has ever done this, give up the stadium naming rights to a commercial organisation for nothing??? Even with Ashley as owner, if the naming rights to SJP had been made commercially available (to a company not majority owned by Ashley!) does any rational person believe that there wouldn’t have been countless ‘brands’ desperate to get the opportunity, at whatever price.

Amanda Staveley talked of Newcastle United potentially becoming the top dog of  multi-club structure, where the club’s owners would have part or whole ownership of other clubs as well. I repeat, for Newcastle United to be successful in the years to come, we have to take the fight to these other clubs (‘brands’!!!). Man City have won countless trophies, including four of the last five PL titles, whilst having a multi-club approach. This has given them all kinds of advantages so why wouldn’t Newcastle United at least consider the same?

As I said earlier, it is not a case of trying to compete now on the pitch, or doing all these other things.

Newcastle United are on a massive recruitment drive to bring in the legions of staff needed to run a huge successful club, they are essential. NUFC bringing in loads of first team players and ones for the future, then you have scouting team appointments, coaching side staff, other background staff, an entire proper commercial team and so on.

It isn’t a case of telling Eddie Howe he has to take time off from preparing the team for the next match, in order to seal a commercial deal. The whole club is growing and proper professionals coming in to do all the various roles.

I laugh when I see some Newcastle United fans questioning why the club is spending so much time and effort looking at improving the existing training facilities and planning a proper full on state of the art new one, why putting together SJP expansion plans, why throwing loads of effort into the women’s team, why bringing in young players who won’t be ready for years to come at the earliest, why doing so much work on building up the commercial side of things…

The question these fans ask, is why not just concentrate on getting success on the pitch first, win some trophies then do these things.

Everything is important and the NUFC owners have to build / rebuild ALL parts of the football club. All the major clubs are putting serious resources into their women’s teams and it isn’t because they are suddenly great believers in women’s football. It is because they know it will be a big help in the future, it will help their ‘brand’, it will help grow their club more powerful, it will bring in more cash and influence long-term.

Here is another perfect illustration of the shameful way Mike Ashley ran Newcastle United and the equally shameful way that the media failed to properly challenge him.

Back in 2013 Mike Ashley said it was essential that Newcastle United had a new state of the art training complex, or else it would be impossible to compete.

Newcastle United released this back in 2013, ten (TEN years ago):

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.”

When Mike Ashley belatedly left Newcastle United eight years ago, this essential (if NUFC were to be able to compete) new state of the art training complex hadn’t had a single brick laid.

Indeed, Mike Ashley’s minion Lee Charnley justified this stalling on 18 April 2019:

“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.

“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.”

It was absolutely shameless, the complete opposite of what Mike Ashley and his minions were claiming back in 2013.

The idea that for a major Premier League club, an essentially needed new training complex (instead of kiddie paddling pools and ice baths in wheelie bins) should be permanently put on hold, using the excuse of needing to buy players instead, is juts laughable.

It is like having a hole in your roof letting in water and you justify not fixing it because you need to buy groceries.

Yes, if you are on the breadline then that might be the case.

However, this was Newcastle United owned by a multi-billionaire, deliberately suppressing commercial revenue and taking all the benefits for himself and his retail empire. Instead of handing his onw ‘brands’ free St James’ Park sponsorship and free worldwide advertising / promotion using the entire football club, why didn’t Mike Ashley charge outside businesses for key advertising / promotion and stadium naming rights, to pay for the essential new training complex?

The answer is of course because Mike Ashley was playing us, Newcastle fans called him out on it but the media happily allowed Ashley to do what he wanted without any proper challenge.

It is astonishing that finally Newcastle United is operating as a professional football club, ran with ambition, doing things properly, trying to compete, yet at the same time the media are now choosing to challenge the running of it.

You couldn’t make it up.


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