Mike Ashley and football’s hyperinflation proving to be the curse of Newcastle

No self-respecting Newcastle fan will ever tell you that the Mike Ashley era has been remotely successful, despite the side winning the Championship twice. Managing to end up in England’s second tier was where it all went wrong in the first place and the blame can and should undoubtedly be placed squarely at Mike Ashley’s door. Until the Sports Direct owner leaves St James’ Park, it seems that the Magpies will be stuck in a state of limbo with the threat of relegation never being too far away.

Most of Newcastle’s problems have arisen because of a lack of investment from Ashley despite receiving a king’s ransom in the form of the Premier League TV rights deal from Sky and BT, as well as collecting big sums of money from player and ticket sales. There’s no doubt the 54-year-old is hoarding the wealth coming his way as he milks his cash cow for one last time before a new prospective owner pays him out. It has been rumoured that Ashley is ready to listen to lower offers for the club but it is becoming increasingly difficult to guess his motives.

If Ashley’s inability to get his hand into his pocket wasn’t hurting Newcastle enough then the hyperinflation in the Premier League and world football, in general, is greatly compounding the problem. Indeed, with Newcastle shelling out very little for players in the transfer market, it puts them at a severe disadvantage. That, of course, is old news, but with player sales in the Premier League rising rapidly, there is cause for real concern as nowadays, a meagre £40m is required to buy players that could be considered no more than decent.

If you were to go back as far as 1998, the most expensive midfielder in the world would have cost a club around £6m. Fast forward to 2018, and on average, the most expensive midfielder will now have a price tag of £52m. If you were to compare it to a loaf of bread you bought in 1998, it would cost you 57p, whereas today you would pay £4.58 for it. That is an astronomical increase when you consider a loaf of bread is around £1 in the shops at the moment.

Football inflation is miles ahead of the actual rate of inflation and it’s fair to say that it is spiralling out of control. Whilst this continues, Newcastle will keep falling behind as they pay the price for this madness as well as an owner who refuses to pay the going rate for good players. With what Ashley is willing to give Benitez in terms of transfer funds and the way the market currently is, it’s no wonder Newcastle just about hang on every year.

Before a season has even started, you have a fair idea of who will be where come the end of it given the size of the budget a manager has to work with. Manchester City have spent over a billion pounds on transfers in the last ten years and right now are one of the forces of European football, having won nine trophies in that time. All of this despite drifting along for much of their existence without a great deal of success. In fact, the Betfair tips for Champions League have City as favourites to win the 2018/2019 showpiece at 7/2. It’s that simple, the more you spend, the more likely a team is to succeed.

Where the Toon would be without Rafa Benitez doesn’t bear thinking about and after a win away to Burnley, it’s now nine points from a possible nine for the Geordies. One wonders how far the club could go if the transfer budget matched the ambition and excellence of the gaffer?

There’s no easy way forward at the minute for the Newcastle fans as they fight a close-fisted owner and an inflation rate in football that is frankly out of control. It’s hardly conventional wisdom but in many ways, if you can’t beat them then join them, a new owner may bring the flint that will allow Newcastle to fight fire with fire.

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