My wife assures me that size doesn’t matter. She usually says it in a rather patronizing manner and with a bit of a smile, but I have to believe that size is very important to a lot of us.
We all like to think that we are the biggest, but exactly how big a club is Newcastle United? What do we have that other teams don’t have, that makes us special?
I’m sorry – if you were expecting me to provide you with the answer there, I’m afraid I can’t. The fact is that every team claims that they have the best fans, and that the fans are passionate, and that football is more than just a game, so why are we different?
Suddenly we find we no longer attract the big players (apart from possibly Sol Campbell, but in all fairness he hadn’t played for a while and had just come back off his Honeymoon). We have players from the continent that I’ve never heard of turning us down.
We now appear to be a bit of a Channel Tunnel, through which players from the Continent can find their way to the Premier League, then spend a season or two wandering round looking for a job, while we pick up their recruitment expenses.
I suspect there are less French nationals using the actual tunnel than there are being brought in by us.
I’d hate to see what happens the first time a league match coincides with a French Bank Holiday.
We often jump up and down shouting silly things like “We don’t want players who don’t want to play for us!”. I never actually understood that one. Do we mean they should love us so much they play for free, or are we saying they should be gushing enthusiasm and grinning from ear to ear all day?
Football is a job. A lot of us, certainly me included, absolutely hate the job we do. If I had to stand in front of a camera and tell the world what a great company I work for, I don’t think I’d be very convincing, and I’m pretty sure the lens would need a rub down with a wet-wipe fairly soon.
I have enough trouble convincing the wife that I like her cooking. There again she says size is not important so what the hell does she know?
I’m back on the old “loyalty” tack again here – why would a 20 year old French player want to play for Newcastle United?
As far back as he can remember we have been a team struggling to maintain Premier League status. A team making more headlines off the pitch than on. A team that seems to think that a pint of milk lasts longer than a manger. And I’m not talking UHT here.
So why would they come and play for us? It can only be the opportunity to get into the Premier League and showcase their talents. Or maybe they are so bad they are on a crap salary?
I’m pretty sure that you can buy a computer program where you can select the sycophantic superlatives that the new signings reel off at their press conferences. “Blah blah blah HUGE CLUB blah blah blah blah FANTASTIC HISTORY blah blah blah AMAZING FANS blah blah blah (insert superlative here) blah blah blah, and I LOOK FORWARD TO PLAYING IN EUROPE NEXT YEAR!!”
OK, so we have a stadium that can seat more than 50,000 fans, a cauldron of atmosphere and fervour that was once considered a fortress. But if today’s ‘blogs are to be believed the fans only turn up now so they can arrange their next anti-Ashley demo.
“Lets demonstrate in the car park”, “Lets chant thought provoking messages like Ashley Out!”, and here’s my favourite of the moment “Let’s turn our backs on him and jump up and down”. Oh yeah , that’ll show him!
All rather strange really when you consider that amongst all the uncertainty that’s floating around, all the perceived lies and lack of communication, if there’s one thing that’s firmly known and understood by all, including Ashley, it’s the fact that the fans don’t like him.
Do we just think he’s forgotten? Needs reminding?
We need to accept the fact that he‘s trying to get the club back into the black, and until that happens “prudent survival” is the name of the game, and not a lot is going to make him change his mind.
I love the way we are doing this at the beginning of the season when there’s still three weeks of the transfer window left. There is a possibility, however slender, that we might actually do well, but let’s not let hope spoil a good bitch, eh?
Apparently the FA has decided that if you want to play in Europe you are only allowed to lose £40 million over three seasons, and they insist that rich owners will no longer be allowed to just keep pumping in more and more dosh.
In this respect by trying to become solvent, we’re almost ahead of the game. Of course some might say that as this is a proviso for getting into Europe then it doesn’t concern us, and wont for a while, but that would be a tad on the negative side.
Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the guy who popped down to the corner shop one day and came back with a kilo of dates, a pint of Laban and Manchester City, is said to be worth upwards of 15 billion pounds. His family, the rulers of the United Arab Emirates, are worth more than a trillion. My own personal experiences of Arabic accounting philosophy would suggest they are worth much more.
Amazingly, out of nowhere, City and Etihad Airways have announced a sponsorship deal worth by 100 million pounds. Just out of interest the Etihad Board’s Chairman and Vice Chairman just happen to be the Manchester City owner’s’ brothers. As long as the owner is not just pumping more an more dosh in.
A fairly reserved estimate is that Manchester City’s owners’ family are 1000 times wealthier than Ashley.
Abramovich, the poor kid on this particular block, is only 10 times richer,
If you go down the list we struggle to be “Big” in that department.
Looking at the last available figures our turnover puts us in 17th place above only Blackpool, Wigan and West Brom. So we’re hardly very big in that department either, are we?
Here’s a really interesting one. What about wage bill as a percentage of turnover?
The last accounts show that 90% of our turnover went on wages. Only three clubs were higher. It’s hardly surprising that Man City are one of them at 104%. The other two were Wigan on 91% and Blackpool on an astonishing 144%. And we all know what happened to them. Of course it’s also worth pointing out that percentage would have improved thanks to our return to the Premier League.
Wow. Maybe we are a big club after all?
What about debt? Where do we stand there?
We apparently have debts totalling £150 million. That’s the 4th largest in the league. Only Man U, Chelsea and Fulham can beat that. So there’s another biggie. Whoop-de-shaggin’- do!
Of the £150 million we owe, £140 million of that is to Ashley and said to be interest free. He pumped the money in to pay off the debts and minimize the interest payments, which now stand at only £2 million. I say “only” because Man U, with four times our debts, are paying 50 times our interest.
This wasn’t intended as a “Wow, isn’t that Mike Ashley a nice guy” kind of rant so we’ll keep that to a bare minimum, but lets not lose track of the fact that last year we had the 4th highest wage bill and the 4th highest debt, all being serviced from the 4th lowest turnover.
Not quite the kind of “big” I was looking for.
For any of you who are interested, search for “Guardian – Inside sport special report Premier League Finances”. It makes good reading.
If that type of thing doesn’t interest you, try “Inside the Dog”. Its crap, but I don’t see why I should be the only one who wasted money on it.
I’m sure you are all going to hit me with why we are a big club (or more likely, why we “were” a big club), but many of us can remember not that long ago when Leeds were the possibly biggest in the country.
Personally I think we are a big club. I just don’t know why.
Thanks to Archie Brand for submitting this.