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http://sport.independent.co.uk/football/pr...icle2851384.ece

 

Mort brings sea change to tone of business on the Tyne

In his first interview as Newcastle chairman the lawyer tells of his big plans for the club to Michael Walker

 

Published: 10 August 2007

 

Shearer's Bar, St. James' Park, 10 days ago: Sam Allardyce addresses around 1,000 Newcastle United fans. The evening is bubbly, loud, optimistic. Fast forward seven days and Shearer's Bar is rather less busy. But there is another gathering. This time it is Newcastle's new chairman Chris Mort, a London lawyer by geography and profession, sitting down with half a dozen Newcastle diehards, supporters who write fanzines and run websites dedicated to the club.

 

There have been many changes at St. James' since the end of last season, Allardyce and Mort being two of the biggest, but Tuesday night's chat was illustrative of another, just as notable to seasoned Newcastle observers, a change in tone.

 

"It's no accident that we now have a lawyer who is chairman of the club, " Mort said. "We want things to be run in the proper way." The 41 year-old Mort tends to supply such answers – short, dry, sometimes sweet – but a point is made. There was weight behind the use of " proper", funnily enough one of Graeme Souness's favourite words.

 

And it is the contrast with what went before that strikes hardest: Chris Mort is not Freddy Shepherd, Allardyce is not Souness, and to the six lads gathered round a table while Mort supped a couple of pints of Guinness, that is reason enough for cheer. This dialogue was not part of the previous regime.

 

Tomorrow at Bolton, for the first time in 15 years, there will be no member of the Shepherd or Hall families leading Newcastle's delegation into a rival Premier League boardroom. Newcastle's new owner, Mike Ashley, will not be at Bolton as he is on holiday, and anyway, it is Mort who is the new face at the top of the club. He has left his wife and family behind in north London to take this post, which some might view as a strange trajectory in career terms, but Mort said his wife was understanding when the original call came from Ashley. "It wasn't: 'I'm going to become deputy chairman of Newcastle United'," Mort explained. "It was: 'I've been offered the position, let's talk about it'. I didn't present it as done.

 

"My wife is interested in football, is aware of the position I have at Freshfields [the law firm]. She's used to me doing high-profile things there, though not as high-profile as this. She's aware this would be a challenging, exciting position. It wasn't a difficult decision for her or me to conclude this was a good thing to do." But for how long? Some refer to Mort as "interim" chairman? "I've not had that conversation." Friends, did they not think this was a peculiar career move? "I don't think anyone has said 'you're mad'. I've had a few thousand requests for tickets.

 

"I'm excited. It has been a fast-moving time, hectic, but I expected it to be. In buying the club we have clearly taken a lot on. We appreciate that. But if you work in Freshfields, a big law firm in the City, that's obviously a demanding environment, you're doing big transactions with clients with big expectations. So in terms of taking on a heavy workload that is not new to me, but it is a different role to the business advisory role I've done traditionally. It's exciting, taking on the whole player transaction side of life, running a football club side of life is obviously different. But not in pace of life."

 

When he returns to his desk on Monday, Mort will know that while a fresh era is upon Tyne, the past hovers. It is just 45 days since his appointment and, aside from supplanting Shepherd and the Halls, three of the other issues to arise are raids by the City of London police, Kieron Dyer's on-off transfer to West Ham and a daily look at the books that has revealed Newcastle's debt is beyond Ashley's estimate when he first bought shares in the club on 23 May. The most commonly reported figure for Newcastle's debt is £80m – to go on top of the £133m Ashley paid for the club. Is that accurate?

 

"It's a bit more complicated than saying there's a debt figure of £x. In terms of money being spent by the club it is more convoluted than that. It's not that debt has been squirrelled away, it's spending some of the money before it comes in, which frankly, is not necessarily debt, it's just a means of investing money before you've actually got it. There's been a bit of that, the club has done that."

 

So there is something in the rumour that Newcastle spent their Northern Rock sponsorship money up front? "I'd rather keep it broad. I just think the financial position of the club is not as strong as we hoped it might be. But that in itself has not held back our investment on the playing squad and it's something that we'll deal with. We did the typical due diligence one would do on a public takeover. There is no sense that anyone has tried to mislead us."

 

Nor will Newcastle seek to do anything but aid the City of London police. " They made it clear their raids were not related to the Quest report but I know that there are areas of concern within football and I share their concern. We have no interest in doing anything untoward."

 

The raids did not add misgivings to Mort's perception of football from the outside. "The impression I had was that football has gone through an incredible transition. A number of clubs have changed the way they have been run, moved from the way they developed through the 1950s, 60s, 70s, 80s, when they were normally run by local businessmen, to professionally run organisations. Chelsea, Manchester United, Arsenal, Tottenham, they have all made the transition into incredibly commercial organisations. That is certainly what we aspire to: to make it as professionally run an organisation as possible."

 

One imagines being unprofessional constitutes a serious misdemeanour in Mort's world-view and it is apparent West Ham's attempt to sign Dyer offended him, perhaps personally as well as professionally. That became more evident last night when, after pressure from Mort, the West Ham chairman Eggert Magnusson retracted the word "embarrassing" – relating to Newcastle's handling of the Dyer deal – from an interview.

 

Mort means business. "Dyer is a player who's played for England. He's a very strong, valuable player for the club," he said.

 

"Clearly his wife and children would prefer to move south and that's something he's talked to West Ham about. It got uncomfortable the way West Ham went about trying to do the transfer. Therefore we felt we'd be happy for Kieron to stay and they would have to pay more to acquire him. I'm not going to elaborate. But they went about their business the wrong way, to my mind."

 

Comings and goings: Changing of the guard at St James' Park

 

Players In:

 

Jose Enrique (Villarreal, £6.3m)

 

Alan Smith (Man Utd, £6m, right)

 

Joey Barton (Man City £5.8m)

 

David Rozehnal (PSG, £2.9m)

 

Mark Viduka (Middlesbro', free)

 

Geremi (Chelsea, free)

 

Claudio Cacapa (Lyon, free)Players out:

 

Scott Parker (West Ham, £7m)

 

Hugo Viana (Valencia, £1.2m)

 

Titus Bramble (Wigan, free)

 

Antoine Sibierski (Wigan, free)

 

Andy O'Brien (Hibs, tribunal)

 

Olivier Bernard, Pavel Srnicek, Kris Gate, Craig Moore, (released)

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Can you highlight the good bits? CBA to read it all.

Lazy bastid.

 

He was meeting with fans who write fanzines and websites.

 

He spoke about the structure of the debt that was different to the way they expected it to be after the due diligence. He basically confirmed what a lot people always said that a lot of deals were financed "in advance" by future incoming money.

 

He's also staid very calm about the accusations from West Ham and just said that in his opinion they were doing the business the wrong way.

Edited by Isegrim
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Guest James_coDurham
Can you highlight the good bits? CBA to read it all.

Lazy bastid.

 

He was meeting with fans who write fanzines and websites.

 

He spoke about the structure of the debt that was different to the way they expected it to be after the due diligence. He basically confirmed what a lot people always said that a lot of deals were financed "in advance" by future incoming money.

 

He's also staid very calm about the accusations from West Ham and just said that in his opinion they were doing the business the wrong way.

 

Cheers ;)

 

I guess an interview with Mort just doesn't inspire me to read a long article. I put it down to his really dull and boring appearance. bring back the fredster!

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"Clearly his wife and children would prefer to move south"

 

I thought his long term partner lived in Ipswich and he wanted to be closer to her and his kids? If Mort is getting basics wrong, like whether Dyer is married and where his 'wife' lives, then perhaps he hasn't got a full grasp of the situation.

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"Clearly his wife and children would prefer to move south"

 

I thought his long term partner lived in Ipswich and he wanted to be closer to her and his kids? If Mort is getting basics wrong, like whether Dyer is married and where his 'wife' lives, then perhaps he hasn't got a full grasp of the situation.

 

 

Dyer bought up the thorny issue of a loyalty payement we did what was neccessary to kill the deal.

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Can you highlight the good bits? CBA to read it all.

Lazy bastid.

 

He was meeting with fans who write fanzines and websites.

 

He spoke about the structure of the debt that was different to the way they expected it to be after the due diligence. He basically confirmed what a lot people always said that a lot of deals were financed "in advance" by future incoming money.

 

He's also staid very calm about the accusations from West Ham and just said that in his opinion they were doing the business the wrong way.

 

...without explaining why we raised the price by £2m at the eleventh hour. as it stands his negotiation skills look under par.

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If Mort's opinion is that they were doing business the wrong way then i'm going to assume that he's correct and they were. He's obviously a very professional individual whereas Wist 'Am are well...Wist 'Am.

 

Why the last minute price increase?

 

Zionist conspiracy?

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Guest James_coDurham
Can you highlight the good bits? CBA to read it all.

Lazy bastid.

 

He was meeting with fans who write fanzines and websites.

 

He spoke about the structure of the debt that was different to the way they expected it to be after the due diligence. He basically confirmed what a lot people always said that a lot of deals were financed "in advance" by future incoming money.

 

He's also staid very calm about the accusations from West Ham and just said that in his opinion they were doing the business the wrong way.

 

...without explaining why we raised the price by £2m at the eleventh hour. as it stands his negotiation skills look under par.

 

Nothing less than what West Ham or Dyer deserve tbh. He's a stupid little wanker, they're a cheating bunch of cockney wankers, so I think we should insist on making good money out the deal. If the little wanker wants to leave, he'll waive any loyalty payment, and if the cheating cockney wankers want him, they'll up the fee. It's about time we stood up to wankers, imo.

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Can you highlight the good bits? CBA to read it all.

Lazy bastid.

 

He was meeting with fans who write fanzines and websites.

 

He spoke about the structure of the debt that was different to the way they expected it to be after the due diligence. He basically confirmed what a lot people always said that a lot of deals were financed "in advance" by future incoming money.

 

He's also staid very calm about the accusations from West Ham and just said that in his opinion they were doing the business the wrong way.

 

...without explaining why we raised the price by £2m at the eleventh hour. as it stands his negotiation skills look under par.

He does not explain it to the public, therefore he must be wrong. I don't think he gives much of a toss about how his negotiation skills are seen in public. But as a top lawyer at Freshfields he is no schoolboy when it comes to big deals and I think saying that they just suddenly raised the asking price by 2m without any specific reason is far too simplistic. And I rather want him to stay quiet and not start threatening to crack the egghead...

Edited by Isegrim
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Can you highlight the good bits? CBA to read it all.

Lazy bastid.

 

He was meeting with fans who write fanzines and websites.

 

He spoke about the structure of the debt that was different to the way they expected it to be after the due diligence. He basically confirmed what a lot people always said that a lot of deals were financed "in advance" by future incoming money.

 

He's also staid very calm about the accusations from West Ham and just said that in his opinion they were doing the business the wrong way.

 

...without explaining why we raised the price by £2m at the eleventh hour. as it stands his negotiation skills look under par.

He does not explain it to the public, therefore he must be wrong. I don't think he gives much of a toss about how his negotiation skills are seen in public. But as a top lawyer at Freshfields he is no schoolboy when it comes to big deals and I think saying that they just suddenly raised the asking price by 2m without any specific reason is far too simplistic. And I rather want him to stay quiet and not starting threatening to crack the egghead...

 

What he said

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Can you highlight the good bits? CBA to read it all.

Lazy bastid.

 

He was meeting with fans who write fanzines and websites.

 

He spoke about the structure of the debt that was different to the way they expected it to be after the due diligence. He basically confirmed what a lot people always said that a lot of deals were financed "in advance" by future incoming money.

 

He's also staid very calm about the accusations from West Ham and just said that in his opinion they were doing the business the wrong way.

 

...without explaining why we raised the price by £2m at the eleventh hour. as it stands his negotiation skills look under par.

He does not explain it to the public, therefore he must be wrong. I don't think he gives much of a toss about how his negotiation skills are seen in public. But as a top lawyer at Freshfields he is no schoolboy when it comes to big deals and I think saying that they just suddenly raised the asking price by 2m without any specific reason is far too simplistic. And I rather want him to stay quiet and not starting threatening to crack the egghead...

Hear, hear. Dan was always having a pop at Shepherd for opening his gob (and putting his foot in it) at every given opportunity.

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there's a difference in explaining why we had to raise the price at the last minute and issuing a cretinous fat fred style statement.

 

as it stands, it looks like we have raised the price after already agreeing a fee because we haven't said otherwise. not the most professional way of doing business and unless there's a statment otherwise that's what the rest of the premiership will be thinking of our new owners.

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there's a difference in explaining why we had to raise the price at the last minute and issuing a cretinous fat fred style statement.

No, to make it public how the dealing was done might look like shifting the blame to West Ham and getting one over them (as a kind of appeasement for fans). Speech is silver, but silence is golden.

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there's a difference in explaining why we had to raise the price at the last minute and issuing a cretinous fat fred style statement.

 

as it stands, it looks like we have raised the price after already agreeing a fee because we haven't said otherwise. not the most professional way of doing business and unless there's a statment otherwise that's what the rest of the premiership will be thinking of our new owners.

 

Why explain when West Ham have been equally as coy? Surely if we had acted unprofessionally then they'd be banging their fists on the table telling the world what went on.

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If Mort's opinion is that they were doing business the wrong way then i'm going to assume that he's correct and they were. He's obviously a very professional individual whereas Wist 'Am are well...Wist 'Am.

 

Why the last minute price increase?

 

Zionist conspiracy?

 

More like you can't think for yourself and digest press waffle whole...

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Can you highlight the good bits? CBA to read it all.

Lazy bastid.

 

He was meeting with fans who write fanzines and websites.

 

He spoke about the structure of the debt that was different to the way they expected it to be after the due diligence. He basically confirmed what a lot people always said that a lot of deals were financed "in advance" by future incoming money.

 

He's also staid very calm about the accusations from West Ham and just said that in his opinion they were doing the business the wrong way.

 

...without explaining why we raised the price by £2m at the eleventh hour. as it stands his negotiation skills look under par.

 

Nothing less than what West Ham or Dyer deserve tbh. He's a stupid little wanker, they're a cheating bunch of cockney wankers, so I think we should insist on making good money out the deal. If the little wanker wants to leave, he'll waive any loyalty payment, and if the cheating cockney wankers want him, they'll up the fee. It's about time we stood up to wankers, imo.

 

 

There is nowt in that whole para that is remotely linked to the facts at hand.

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If Mort's opinion is that they were doing business the wrong way then i'm going to assume that he's correct and they were. He's obviously a very professional individual whereas Wist 'Am are well...Wist 'Am.

 

Why the last minute price increase?

 

Zionist conspiracy?

 

More like you can't think for yourself and digest press waffle whole...

 

No, more like I don't know what went on and i'm not going to pretend to. It makes no sense for one club to increase the price of a player off the cuff, there is much more to it that we may never find out about. I can only assume that something big went on behind the scenes and i'm siding with Mort because he seems like a professional individual.

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Can you highlight the good bits? CBA to read it all.

Lazy bastid.

 

He was meeting with fans who write fanzines and websites.

 

He spoke about the structure of the debt that was different to the way they expected it to be after the due diligence. He basically confirmed what a lot people always said that a lot of deals were financed "in advance" by future incoming money.

 

He's also staid very calm about the accusations from West Ham and just said that in his opinion they were doing the business the wrong way.

 

...without explaining why we raised the price by £2m at the eleventh hour. as it stands his negotiation skills look under par.

He does not explain it to the public, therefore he must be wrong. I don't think he gives much of a toss about how his negotiation skills are seen in public. But as a top lawyer at Freshfields he is no schoolboy when it comes to big deals and I think saying that they just suddenly raised the asking price by 2m without any specific reason is far too simplistic. And I rather want him to stay quiet and not start threatening to crack the egghead...

 

 

They'd clearly forgotten about the loyalty payment and so had Dire (money to burn) untill his agent reminded him at the 11th hr. Suddendly the deal didn't look so good for us. The rest is history. The shit slingling fallout I'm sure both clubs can do without.

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If Mort's opinion is that they were doing business the wrong way then i'm going to assume that he's correct and they were. He's obviously a very professional individual whereas Wist 'Am are well...Wist 'Am.

 

Why the last minute price increase?

 

Zionist conspiracy?

 

More like you can't think for yourself and digest press waffle whole...

 

No, more like I don't know what went on and i'm not going to pretend to. It makes no sense for one club to increase the price of a player off the cuff, there is much more to it that we may never find out about. I can only assume that something big went on behind the scenes and i'm siding with Mort because he seems like a professional individual.

 

 

What's to know? We put the price up at the eleventh hour by £2m. All the other smoke and mirrors doesn't concern me. IMO we should have got shot of him...Frustrated of Fareham. ;)

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