United yet divided – The saga of the Fat Controller

Like many of the Toon Army, I have extremely strong opinions regarding the dictatorsh….I mean ownership of our beloved club. One minute I am cursing Mike Ashley’s name and the next I am thinking that he really does have a plan and it could be a lot worse.

After the recent sale of home grown talent Andy Carroll, the opinion was completely divided amongst fans as to whether it was the Board or the player to blame for Carroll’s rapid departure.

I have decided to look at it from both sides of the coin once and for all to try and give myself some peace of mind.

The Beginning.

Almost four years ago, the intensely private sports retail tycoon shocked the world of football by buying the shares of Sir John Hall and moving on to take total ownership of Newcastle United for a sum of over Β£130 million. At the time, I felt like Christmas had come early. The club were heading for financial ruin due to failed attempts at securing consistent Champions League football (mainly due to poor managerial appointments) and now we had our own British sugar daddy to come in and clear the debt whilst pumping ridiculous amounts of money into the superstars we were so used to being linked with.

This British sugar daddy also took to wearing our colours like one of us and started drinking in the local pubs like a regular bloke from Blaydon. At the time, we must have been the envy of every club in the league. This man built an empire selling Adidas trainers on the cheap but what did he know about running a football club? Well it’s a business and he is a businessman so it shouldn’t be too much bother. He travelled with the fans to the Mackemland, he necked some pints at The Emirates, he was just one of the lads out for the ride.

Cockney Mafia Out

It didn’t take long for things to start to turn a little bit sour.

Installing Chris Mort and Dennis Wise is still the biggest mistake Ashley has made to date and showed his total lack of any knowledge on how to run a professional football club although his appointed of King Keegan showed the fans that he had their interests at heart so he was temporarily forgiven for the appointment of some little dwarfish [email protected] that everyone outside of Stamford Bridge can’t stand.

After huge interference in team matters by aforementioned dwarf, Keegan was subsequently sacked by Ashley and Llambias and the pair, along with Dennis Wise, were dubbed ‘The Cockney Mafia’ by supporters. Ashley then caused turmoil behind the scenes at the club by putting us up for sale creating an all time low morale amongst fans and players which consequently sent us into freefall and ultimately relegation. During this time, fans were bemused with the appointment of Joe Kinnear who was unable to boost the overpaid stars to fire fight against the dreaded drop.

After failing to find a buyer and local businessman Barry Moat getting all our hopes up then pulling out at the last minute, Ashley accepted that selling the club whilst in the Championship would be financially impossible and released a low amount of funds (whilst reaping some tasty transfer fees) to give new manager Chris Hughton the almost impossible task of promotion back to the top tier of English football at the first time of asking. We all know what spirit and performances Chris Hughton went on to achieve, although that article is for another day.

Calm had seemingly been restored on Tyneside in 2010 and things were looking rosy until the abysmal sacking of Chris Hughton with the team battling in the top half of the league. Chris had instilled a new found belief into the players and his treatment by the board was nothing short of scandalous and completely out of the blue. The fans once again cursed Ashley’s name and the general consensus was that he truly did want to destroy the club. He then appointed serial relegation specialist Alan Pardew to lead our troops into battle, much to the general amusement of everyone but the Geordie faithful.

His latest scandal – as far as his haters are concerned – has been the sale of home grown gypsy, Andy ‘Rocky’ Carroll. Carroll was reportedly forced out of the club by Llambias as Multi Millionaire Ashley ”needed the money.”

On the flip side….

Many fans have grown to accept that Ashley actually does want the club to be successful, whether it be for personal pleasure or profit. There is an argument for every one of his decisions which I can empathise with but I just don’t know whether to trust the integrity of it all.

Ashley started off as one of the lads in the stands and seemed to have a great time. He held his hands up and admitted his naivety and mistakes in the appointment of Wise and Mort, after sacking them both. During the turmoil with Keegan, Ashley reportedly tried to smooth things over after a row Kev had with chief protagonist Derek Llamaface. He then faced a hate campaign from the fans and put us up for sale, citing that he had ‘listened to the fans’ and was doing it as he appreciated our disdain. He appointed the fans choice Alan Shearer after the interim manager was taken ill and after relegation, held his hands up and praised all the staff for their efforts.

In the Championship, he secured some of the best talent in the division at the time with the signings of Wayne Routledge, Leon Best and James Perch. They were all at the top of their game within their respective clubs. He let Hoots get on with things and we were promoted with flying colours….no drama. He then invested in signings of Hatem Ben Arfa and Cheik Tiote on our return to the Premier League and didn’t sell any of our star performers with his sights set on Premier League survival. This was all the fans had asked for and he was probably advised that with the squad and wages, it should be possible.

Some say that in hindsight, the sacking of Chris Hughton was the right decision. Chris did well but would he ever have taken us to the next level? My thoughts are that he deserved the chance and it was a shame he wasn’t given it, but he was never given the full backing and a five year deal so we were never given any false pretences (some would argue that CH was promised a contract at the end of the season….I saw this as the ‘vote of confidence’ managers get before being sacked). The loss against West Brom actually made me call for Hoots’ head for the first time and after that dire performance, I wasn’t massively surprised when it happened the next day.

There is an argument that Ashley has NEVER sold our prized assets unless they have showed a desire to jump ship and I personally think this isn’t too far from the truth. I personally blame Andy Carroll for leaving rather than the board. Β£35 million is a ridiculous amount of money for an injured player who breaks team mates jaw and has only six months experience in the top flight to his name, plus a few recent court appearances. A lot of fans have said he is sucking the club dry but in reality, he has never taken any money out the club. If anything he has been completely ripped off with the amount of debt and ‘unobvious’ repayments his flash lawyers didn’t flag up at the time of purchase.

It’s also amazing that the appointment of Alan Partridge actually seems to be working. He has got us playing some good football although the jury is still out with most fans.

I will make my decision come the summer when I see how much he invests back into the team but I think the main problem at NUFC isn’t Mike Ashley….it’s Derek Llambias. As I have mentioned, Llambias has been party to all the major negative stories at NUFC and it’s time this was highlighted and something was done about it.

A highly emotive subject I know and I am bound to take a few hits on the chin for sitting on the fence but I think many will agree that their opinion of Ashley will all come down to the transfer kitty in the summer. I can live with people making mistakes, holding their hands up and learning from it.

Is this the case with our chairman? Or is it just one thing too many? Have you completely made up your mind on whether ‘In Ashley we Trust’ or ‘Fat Cockney out’???

About Moreno

Raised in Tyneside and now spreading the Gospel of Shola down in shandyland! Follow @MorenoToon on Twitter !

134 thoughts on “United yet divided – The saga of the Fat Controller

  1. Hey Toonsy – tried the blog on another B’berry – still returned the same error!

    Maybe its B’berry specific?


  2. Hitman,
    fans dont care about the club breaking even..

    Neither did Leeds fans when they were in the champions league…..


  3. i carnt get me nut round these new rules from uefa…this will water down the CL,the CL without the top clubs in europe will be like the europa


  4. Toonsy- Ive always believed that for a club to be sustainable debt should only be for infra-structure support, for stadia, training, medical etc – as those investments give a return over time.

    A footballer though is a fragile commodity, they are signed for huge sums, have huge contracts and can be gone tomorrow – HBA for instance. To sign a player with no guarantee of a return is therefore a different matter imo. Players and salaries need to be ran within financial constraints otherwise its short term gambling with debts accruing over time which ultimately have to be paid for, otherwise the cost of the debt is a noose around a clubs neck just waiting for a slip or fall (however temporary) that can become fatal.

    Lucky for folks I am off now and cant bore you any more πŸ˜†


  5. toonsy
    Posted February 19, 2011 at 11:32 AM
    Stardust – Is it when trying to post comments?

    Yes – I posted once the other night on first log in, I clicked remember me and have been unable to post since? I’ll leave it with you, it appears its only affecting me and I imagine most wont browse with B’Berrys anyway


  6. Stardust – I’ll put a little bit in the next article about it to those who specifically use Blackberry’s to see if anyone else has a problem and what model they have?


  7. Ashleys problems come from him not knowing when he’s onto a good thing and taking the wrong advice.

    He had the fans eating out of his hand down to Chris Morts running of the club, Communication with supporters, Planning for the future and improving the financial situ, So when Mort went back to his law firm instead of replacing like for like he brings in Llambius.

    Bobby Robson advised him to appoint Fatih Terim when Allardyce was sacked, Ashley chooses to bring Keggy back in a publicity and moneymaking stunt and make him answer to that “recruitment team” (that was a sure fire winner like πŸ™„ )

    Even this season we were in a healthy position to comfortably stay up and possibly even qualify for europe, Instead of sitting back and enjoying the ride he decides to first change manager and when that didnt derail things, He sells/allows the top scorer to leave and strengthen a side no better than us.

    The guy is a fcuking tool, Im still expecting his business genius to shine through but i never does, The only deals he has impressed me with were selling that prick Dyer and piroetty Parker to Wham for a profit other than that he amazes me with his incompetence…


  8. Roy ur taaking oot ya ars pal.
    Gi ya heed a shake man 😯

    Do you feel better now Roy. :mrgreen:

    Howay man have a gan if ya want 😈

    woo hoo croppers lost the plot.


  9. toonsy
    Posted February 19, 2011 at 11:27 AM

    Lets just forget about this UEFA break even shite.

    The big, big teams in Europe – Man Utd, Barca, Madrid ect… all have huge debts and generally lose money or just get bailed out by the government. Do you really think UEFA will have a CL without these clubs? I don’t think so, it’s all about money.

    As for what type of owner I would like – One who isn’t mute, tells us his plans, his ambitions, how he plans to do it and someone who doesn’t continually say one thing and does another.

    Thi football club has the capacity to generate more money than most clubs – I just want us to punch our weight in the transfer market. Whatever anybody says you cannot achieve success on buying the likes of Tiote every season. There’s not a never ending supply, we do have to spend decent money on established players too.

    We’re not the only club to have scouts looking for good young players, we do have competition.

    I would like an owner who will do the best for the club, not just himself.

    Every decision Ashley has made has been for himself – to protect his investment. That doesn’t automatically go hand in hand.


  10. Stu, so basically you want someone who is a die hard fan of the club?
    Can’t see any queueing round the block with offers though mate.
    Of course he is trying to protect his investment, he has spent a bloody fortune and just gets constant abuse in return!
    As I said in the article, I am sitting on the fence until I see what happens in the summer although I don’t think he deserves a lot of flak he gets, especially all the ‘bleeding dry’ and ‘lining his pockets’ comments.


  11. Stuart – ….”As for what type of owner I would like – One who isn’t mute, tells us his plans, his ambitions, how he plans to do it and someone who doesn’t continually say one thing and does another.”

    Forgive my ignorance and I’m not having a go, but didn’t MA say he had a 5 yr plan or something to put the club right. ❓

    Is that not good enough for now?


  12. Stu, a he’ll of a lot of people I know mate! Can you honestly say you haven’t heard plenty of comments along those lines???


  13. see theres a 17yr old kid from france comeing to toon next wk for trial,has been watched by scouts for while, another free-be πŸ˜‰


  14. Aye Ice, he’s been tracked by Marseille and Man Utd aswell so hae can’t be too shabby. One for the future hopefully.


  15. Alan Partridge
    Posted February 19, 2011 at 12:54 PM

    I will excuse your ignorance.

    That plan changed every five minutes, we went from 5 year plan, Arsenal model, Aston Villa model and god knows what model we’re on now. But even so he didn’t actually tell anyone how he intended to impliment these plans.


  16. Moreno
    Posted February 19, 2011 at 1:05 PM

    But I didn’t and I don’t think my ideal owner would have to be a fan. I like the things tat Randy Lerner has done at Villa, the Arab at City, ok he’s thrown a shit load of cash at it but he’s told everyone what he’s trying to do and does a hell of a lot for the local community.


  17. Stuart – Both of those clubs are losing money hand over fist, which has been fine when the owners can back it up, but when that stops, what then?


  18. STUART aye i said that a while ago,read some local city news that they have put a ship load of cash into local community,bringing quite a few jobs in too


  19. toonsy – Villa are addressing that, that’s why O’Neill left. You’ll probably find that this year they’ll break even or have reduced their losses.

    As for City, their losing money yes, but they did go on the biggest spending spree in history, only R Madrid can come close. But they don’t owe a penny to anyone. All the money the Arab has put in is equity in the club. Look at their turnover, it’s gone up about 50% in two years, it will go up again when their in the CL. It will soon start balancing.

    Why aren’t we looking at increasing revenue instead of cutting costs? We have the potential to be huge, but he doesn’t seem to grasp that aspect of football.

    I wouldn’t mind betting we earn less through advertising and corperate than we did 5 years ago in real terms, that’s a shocking indictment on his regime imo.


  20. Stuart – You need to take into account that we are not the draw we once were with regard to advertising and corporate revenue. This is a fact. There are other teams that are a bigger and better brand than us, and until we can get a break, like Tottenham did, it will continue.

    As for Villa, I doubt they will break even after waxing Β£25 million quid in January. With regard to the Arab, only Β£10 million will be allowed to be absorbed as a loss in any form, and that will fall further. Any injections (cash, equity or whatever) will only be allowed with infrastructure projects such as training academies and the ground itself.


  21. toonsy
    Posted February 19, 2011 at 1:33 PM

    Come on toonsy, man! You know as well as everybody does that this break even shite just isn’t going to work. There’ll be loop holes that Β£500,000 per hour solicitors will have found already.

    As for our income, you’ve just proved my point. Why has our corperate/advertising revenue fell? Which successful company wants to be associated with NUFC under an owner who’s actions just bring bad publicity after bad publicity? Ashley is the main reason why we’re no longer a big draw.


  22. Stuart – A relegation hasn’t helped to be fair. We lost our shiny stable PL club status and have now become a risk where as before, even back to under Shpeherd, and in fact historically were at least a safe bet for 14th place (our long term average) in the top flight.

    Still, you can crack on fella. Times have been worse than this, whether you like it or not.


  23. well you wanted a nibble Roy πŸ™„

    Happy to oblige my friend. :mrgreen:
    well I tried anyhoo. cannit have ya gannin doon the boozer al the time spending ya hard earned wedge on amber nectar can we.

    Can’t believe no match for another week. πŸ‘Ώ


  24. And Stu whether you like to admit it or not, NUFC was fecked financially thru reckless spending by FFS. Which you seem to be advocating.
    I’m not saying MA saved the club from administration or anything, but the club was staring into the abyss for sure. He must take some credit for that. No?


  25. ROY C that killed me the other day with you and batts.

    roy sold me one that taks threepny-bits were the hell ime going to get them,want to see the size of it,told me it was hands free,he give me a giant lakky-band to gan owr me heed,the crook


  26. When ashley first came in the club had been in decline for some time. I think everyone forgets this. Our first team for years was built around shearer wit from wat i can remember no concrete plans to replace the great man when he did put up his boots. We were a mess on and off the pitch. We had to completly re build the entire club esp our finances. And this takes time. Within in our society there is a culture of wanting everything yesterday. There was cheap credit 110% mortgages etc etc and our club was ran like tat. Those days are over. The club is going in the right direction but it will take time to get where we all want to go and no amount of bitching n moaning will change tat


  27. Hall and Shepherd are coming in for a lot of flack but folks forget that they put this club back in the top flight and gave us a fantastic stadium, spectacular players and some wonderful memories.
    Yes they took money out, but who doesnt and they also gambled their own cash in the process but no one could argue that they didnt have the same ambitions as the fans and should be given credit instead of being treat with scorn.
    Yes, they stuck it up Ashley and we are paying for it now but i will always be grateful to them for some of my best ever Toon memories.


  28. Bobby – I’ll accept that for Hall, but what you are negating is the state of the club that Shepherd inherited. Hall had done the hard work and backed it up with cash. We had a 36,000 seater stadium that replaced the ramshackle collection of stands that we used to have. Hall built the club up to a point where it was the second biggest club in England, with Β£100 million of cash sitting in the bank with NO debt.

    By the time Shepherd had finished that Β£100 million had gone, despite the club being floated on the stock market and all the money that brought in, and had been replaced with a squad full of big name flop players who never really produced for us and cost a fortune in wages, a Β£70 million debt, and a business that was losing over Β£30 million a year.

    God knows how that can be applauded. I mean yes there were some great memories, but that was the legacy of Hall, not Shepherd. I mean let’s not forget that we were all ‘mugs’ and all the women were ‘dogs’ according to Shepherd.


  29. Good first thread there Moreno. The way I see we all know it could be better, but where we are know, (19/02/2011) we are probably in a stronger position than many would have expected. I look at likes of Torres and think to myself, does money really buy everything. Ashley may be a man with a plan. The biggest test we face right now is whether we can keep the best players we have and add to them in the summer. If we do I think next season we will have ‘cleared the hurdle’ so to speak, and by that point it will be easier to hold on to our players because we will be a bonifide top half side. The top players themselves can sense this and are starting to drop a few hints.


  30. Alan Partridge said it all: “The end of the summer cant come quickly enough for me because we will all know finally one way or the other.”


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