The Chronicle Q & A

The Chronicle recently submitted questions to NUFC on behalf of fans and printed the responses. The full answers can be read here. But I’d like to highlight some specific points made by Derek Llambias.

 

“We didnt promise to spend all the money in this window.”

All the money? They hardly spent ANY of it. 1% of the transfer fee received has been reinvested in transfer fees.

 

Our wage bill this season will increase by seven percent as a result of the business weve done, including new deals for existing players. Assuming a tenth place league position, that gives us a wages-to-turnover ratio of approximately 65 per cent.

I’m almost certain this is a creative use of the facts. I believe he’s saying 65% based on last years reported turnover, in the championship. Given that we’ve shifted Barton, Enrique and Nolan off the wage bill I don’t see the new players or improved contracts being any more than that.

 

As a result of some of the things we’ve done in the past there will always be fans who will not like nor believe what we have to say. The upshot is that when we speak publicly more often than not we are criticised. After the statement I made last week, it was interesting to read comments from some supporters saying “I just wish they’d shut up!” Of course everyone has a different view, that’s football for you, which as we all know is a very passionate game.

Strange one this. He seems to accept it’s down to things they’ve done in the past, but we’ve never heard of any regret from the club at all for how they’ve gone about their business. He clearly recognises they’ve been lying to fans, employees and the press but it strikes me that he seems to be saying the fans are being unreasonable in not getting over it. and not believing them now. I’m firmly in the camp that would prefer them to shut up, unless what they’re saying is “sorry for everything, we realise the error of our ways, lets pull down some Sports Direct signs as a show of good will and move on”.

 

Our long-term plan off the field is to make sure that Newcastle United is self-financing, which in turn will allow us to invest in the squad, our youth development system and our facilities, without having to rely on additional financial support from the owner. There aren’t many clubs in England who can hope to achieve that.

There’s no clubs that would want to achieve that. Why on earth would anyone spend 5 years balancing the books….then go and build up £50m of debt in order to buy a top striker or two. It’s like saying I’m going to clear my credit cards…so I can hammer them again. Either you’re balancing the books for stability and we’ll rely on the youth/facilities, or you’re running a model of buying big to sustain success on the field….which can only be achived in that order. Clearly the former is the aim, and it’s spin to say we’ll invest in the squad once we’re breaking even….resulting in us not breaking even.

 

This year we’ve set ourselves the target of a top ten finish in the Premier League. In the coming years we cannot compete with the financial strength of the top six. We have a realistic view of what we can achieve at Newcastle and how quickly we can achieve it.

So we’re aiming for 7th-10th this season….and long term too. What we see this season is the hight of ambition, from the horses mouth.

 

We started our search the minute Andy Carroll left. The manager and our scouting team identified a number of targets very early in the year and we worked hard to secure those players as soon as possible. Unfortunately it wasn’t until very late in the window that negotiations broke down. At that stage we turned our attention to other available players on our shortlist. Many clubs live to regret knee-jerk business decisions conducted in the final few days of the window. Despite our best efforts unfortunately we were unable to agree the right deal for an additional striker.

It’s an absurd position to take that they concentrated on one deal for 7 months waiting till the last day or 2 to switch targets, without saying “look, either do the deal or we have to move on” after 4 months or so. The idea they think this excuses the idiocy of such an approach speaks volumes about their incompetence, the idea they use the phrase “knee-jerk” about a decision they had 7 months to make takes it from the absurd to the hilarious.

 

Whilst it heralded the end of the Level 7 ‘singing section’, we didn’t want to create a new singing section elsewhere in the ground. We would far rather encourage a good vocal atmosphere around the whole stadium than in just one part.

By which I can only assume they mean they’d rather encourage no (anti-Ashley) atmosphere anywhere in the ground, than have a group persistently on his back. I’d be interested to hear the thinking behind this. If not anti-Ashley sentiment, what was it that changed their mind on how to generate atmosphere between the moment they came up with the ‘singing section’ and now?

 

Season ticket sales are actually up on where we were this time last year.

This might be true. I’m certain gate receipts will be well down though. The differentiation on this is key. Because seats that were £450 are now being sold for £100 to kids in order to achieve the modest attendances we’re getting.

 

From time to time we are approached by people claiming to have an interest in buying the club. Our message to them is clear: buy a box for a commitment of five-seasons and then we’ll know you’re serious. No-one’s taken us up on that offer!

What a joke. “Taken us up on that offer”? Any potential buyers (and people have approached them apparently) must spend 6 figures just to get into a room with them. And he says it like it’s an offer too good to be true.

 

He deserves credit for his financial support but a section of supporters don’t make him feel welcome at St James’ Park, or when he attends away games. Criticism is part and parcel of the job, abuse is not. This makes life uncomfortable and certainly doesn’t make Mike feel more inclined to put his hand once again in his pocket. That’s not stubbornness, it’s human nature. I think most of us would feel exactly the same.

If I’ve ever read a more pathetic paragraph then I don’t remember it. I thought Ashley was supposed to be a business man that makes the best of his investment. Not a schoolgirl who’s fallen out with her BFF. In most lines of business contempt from your customers is seen as a negative, you would usually take action to win them over, engage in PR moves that show you understand and want them to be happy customers. You don’t say “be nicer or we’ll serve you up some even worse product!”. What a terrible man.
A Compendium of Contradictions from Mike Ashley

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