Being a supporter of NUFC is certainly a topsy turvy ride, not just on the field of play, but our owners seem to have to have a certain quality (or lack there of) on their CV’s that ensures that the soap opera continues in our boardroom.
I’m interested to know? Just what do we as Newcastle fans want from our owner? We’ve certainly have had the two extremes in Freddie Shepherd and Mike Ashley recently. Both seemed to have one thing in common however, and that was that they seem to have more bad than endearing qualities about them.
Shepherd, on the one hand loved the sound of his own voice and seemed to find any means of getting his face on the telly. He made sure that he said what the fans wanted to hear (at least to the media anyway). He also backed up his managers and brought some quality “names” into the club on big wages in reaching for a quick fix way to glory. He also seemed to have good relationships with regard to sponsors and getting corporate backing and bums in seats.
Despite this however, his ability in his choice of manager was on the whole, quite pathetic (with the exception of the legendary Bobby Robson) and even that ended on poor terms.
Shepherds financial control was kept under a cloud for many years, with high season ticket sales, merchandise sales, and fantastic corporate sponsorship deals making it seem like we were rolling in the cash. Unfortunately his departure and due diligence exposed a poor financial state of affairs, with massive uncontrolled wages, and instalment transfer payments of “over the hill” deadwood players had taken is toll – we had lived above our means for too long.
I must state that I believe we would have survived a few more years yet financially, but without doubt, the ship was sinking.
Enter the hero Mike Ashley, a self-made billionaire from England who supported the Toon and was going to come and give us much awaited and deserved success… NOT
If anything, his first year was worse than any Freddy Shepherd had ever had in charge, and his mistakes accelerated in into relegation after a disaster year.
The financial burden Ashley took in the relegation year to keep us afloat is no doubt appreciated by Newcastle fans but lets face it, if he had only invested properly and backed Keegan instead of that midget Wise, we’d never have gone down and incurred those costs. Yet down we went, and in hindsight, it had turned out to be a blessing in disguise, and a chance to start from scratch.
In my honest opinion, since our relegation year, Ashley has done a lot right, whilst continuing to do a lot wrong.
The investments in the academy, the training ground, the scouting networks, and the purchasing of some real diamonds has been great to see. But again, there is a down side to this, as it only seems to have been done, to make Ashley a profit in their eventual sale once they have been developed.
Of course an academy wouldn’t be necessary if we had some rich old Sheikh pumping millions into buying extravagant signings every transfer window (which many fans seem to be calling for) but surely no TRUE fan wants this!
The thing is for me, Ashley has all the makings of being a great owner, but he has three major flaws:
– His poor communication skills and inability to tell the whole open truth without a twist (who is the PR woman again?)
– His willingness to sell for a profit and running the club to much like a business without thinking about the team (don’t sell our best players UNLESS you replace them with the same quality or at least potential)
– His using the club as advertising boarding for Sports Direct (@St James Park) where his logo covers the seats the boarding, the stands, the billboards outside (all of which is costing us millions in lost
sponsorship revenue as a club).
So here is my question to you…
What is your perfect owner?
1 – The shrewd businessman (Arsenal Model) developing through the ranks, but selling the players at their peak, keeping financially sound and profitable, setting up for future successes…
2 – The big spenders (Man City) sugar daddy run clubs that dominate at the moment but have no idea if they will cave in when owners get bored…
3 – Somewhere inbetween (Man United and perhaps Spurs) start young, and build slowly each year, while trying to hang on to the best players and replacing the weak links, with an element of risk financially dependant on success which needs to be had relatively quickly.
If you were the Newcastle owner, what changes would you make to the Ashley model?
Thanks to JJ for giving us this to ponder.