Your questions to the board answered – Part one Q.1-Q.6

Llambias speaks again

Questions, questions, questions. Answered.
One of the biggest bones of contention at the moment is the current lack of communication from the board.

Quite simply put, it’s rubbish. That is probably being a little bit kind if truth be told.

So it was nice to see that Lee Ryder from the Evening Chronicle had managed to get the board to respond to the questions of fans. This kind of chance doesn’t come along often and whilst I was always sceptical of the answers that we’ll end up with I must credit Lee for actually trying to get some dialogue going.

I was going to put all 14 questions in one article, but with the first handful of questions weighing in at over 2,000 words I thought perhaps that I’d split it into two three parts. Part one will include questions 1-6, part two will include questions 7-14, and the third part will be my reaction to each question.

Here goes.

Q.1 – Where’s the money that was pledged to be reinvested in the squad after the sale of Andy Carroll gone?

We made it clear when we sold Andy that the fee we received would stay in the club, and it has.

The money will be spent prudently within the club and on new players as and when we are in a position to do so. We didnt promise to spend all the money in this window. Money will be available going forward, for the right player at the right time. If the club had been able to move on other transfer targets this summer, then more money would have been spent.

Its a point weve mentioned before, but transfer fees are only one part of the cost incurred in signing players. A free transfer mistakenly indicates that it is without cost to the club, but no transfer is actually free. Most supporters will be aware that the agents fees, signing on fees and salaries are inflated in deals with free agents.

Our wage bill this season will increase by seven percent as a result of the business weve done, including new deals for existing players. Assuming a tenth place league position, that gives us a wages-to-turnover ratio of approximately 65 per cent.

Any suggestions that the owner has in some way profited from the sale of Andy are absolutely untrue.

Q.2 – Why is there such a lack of communication with the fans from Mike Ashley and his board?

When Mike Ashley bought the club back in 2007, we were keen to engage with supporters and did so with some regularity.

As a result of some of the things we’ve done in the past there will always be fans who will not like nor believe what we have to say. The upshot is that when we speak publicly more often than not we are criticised.

Some football club owners and board members talk regularly in public and enjoy it, others don’t. We much prefer to concentrate on running the club and letting the football do the talking.

After the statement I made last week, it was interesting to read comments from some supporters saying “I just wish they’d shut up!” Of course everyone has a different view, that’s football for you, which as we all know is a very passionate game.

We understand the natural appetite for information and the need for fans to have clarity on the direction we’re taking the club. It’s why we have committed to an annual mission statement from the board, along with regular communications from our media department.

Last year the media team facilitated over 500 interviews with the manager, players and other club officials which demonstrates that the club does place importance on communicating with fans.

Q.3 – In 2009 you outlined your plans for the club at a fans forum. Can you give us an update on how you see our position now against that plan and if it has changed? What is the long-term plan for Newcastle United?

Since that fans forum meeting in 2009, the club is now on a far sounder footing. Financially we are in much better shape, even taking into account the impact of relegation.

We urgently had to address a number of problems and we’ve made great strides in that respect.

Our long-term plan off the field is to make sure that Newcastle United is self-financing, which in turn will allow us to invest in the squad, our youth development system and our facilities, without having to rely on additional financial support from the owner. There aren’t many clubs in England who can hope to achieve that.

It’s obviously our football ambitions that supporters are understandably more interested in. This year we’ve set ourselves the target of a top ten finish in the Premier League.

In the coming years we will continue to build the club sustainably. We have a generous owner, but we don’t have the bottomless pockets that some clubs do. At the moment we cannot compete with the financial strength of the top six.

We are not a club willing to take a reckless approach and permit spending beyond our means, the result of which can be crippling at best and bankruptcy at worst. Instead we have a realistic view of what we can achieve at Newcastle and how quickly we can achieve it.

Q.4 – Can you justify why it took seven months to pursue a striker before failing at the eleventh hour to secure a signing?

We understand fans’ frustrations – we share them, as does the manager.

Despite what many may think we didn’t leave it late, in fact we started our search the minute Andy Carroll left. It’s difficult to convey the amount of work that goes into the process of scouting, assessing and analysing players to ensure that anyone brought into the club is of the right age, quality, character and team fit.

We have to be certain that our targets have the strengths and skills that complement the current squad and the balance of the side. Then of course there’s the transfer fees and wages to get right. The fee we received from the sale of Andy Carroll was a windfall, but it’s not money we can afford to waste, so prudence and adherence to our strict transfer policy is important.

The manager and our scouting team identified a number of targets very early in the year and we worked hard to secure those players as soon as possible. There are three parties involved in any deal; the buyer, the seller and the player, and deals can fall down for any number of reasons brought about by any one of those parties. Unfortunately it wasn’t until very late in the window that negotiations broke down.

At that stage we turned our attention to other available players on our shortlist. However we will not compromise our transfer policy by making rash and costly signings that are not right for this club. Many clubs live to regret knee-jerk business decisions conducted in the final few days of the window. We have no interest in players reaching the end of their careers who are offered for extortionate fees and demand long-term contracts and high wages.

The details of our negotiations in the window must remain confidential; suffice to say that despite our best efforts unfortunately we were unable to agree the right deal for an additional striker.

Q.5 – Public opinion on Tyneside from large sections of fans is that they no longer trust statements coming out of the club after several empty promises. What assurances can you give fans that they can believe what the club tells them?

We don’t feel we’ve made empty promises. Sometimes in these situations it’s impossible to win.

If we say nothing we are criticised. If we state our intentions and they are not realised, we are criticised.

Going back to the sale of Andy Carroll, just to reiterate we did not promise to spend all the money from that transfer in the summer. We said that not a penny would be taken out of the club and that is exactly what we have done.

In relation to Andy, it’s worth addressing the issue that upset fans back in January. Yes, we said repeatedly that Andy Carroll was not for sale. On reflection perhaps we should have chosen our words more carefully. We had no intention of selling Andy Carroll.

If I can draw an analogy: My house is not for sale. In fact you could offer me twice what it is worth and it would still not be for sale because it has a personal value to me right now that is greater than twice the price. But if someone knocks on my door with a truly extraordinary figure, a sum which I had never imagined would be offered, then there comes a time when I have to seriously consider it.

The same is true in football. We could not have imagined when we rejected offers for Andy of £25m and £30m that any bid in excess of that would be tabled. And that was our position in January: do we continue stubbornly to refuse to sell at any price, or is the offer now so high that it deserves serious consideration. The fee offered was a deal too good to turn down.

That’s just one side of the equation of course. On the other side is a player, and one I would add that we have the greatest respect for. He could see an incredibly attractive opportunity for him too. Eventually both the club and the player agreed that a deal would be in the best interests of both parties. Was it ideal that the bid came in on the final day of the window? No, but we stand by our decision that it was in the best interests of the club despite it being too late to bring in a replacement. Without Andy, we still achieved a very credible finishing position in the league.

So our statements that Andy was not for sale were not disingenuous. We had no intention of selling Andy, not at £25m, nor at £30m. Because we had never anticipated the vast sum eventually tabled then to all intents and purposes he was not for sale.

If some fans feel the can no longer trust what we say, that’s a shame, but all we can do is continue to tell it as we see it and hope that people will take us at our word.

Q.7 – Given that level 7 was deserted in some parts at the Fulham game, is there any reason why those who want to sing can’t all be sat together rather than upsetting fans who don’t want to sing, which appears to be the problem in the Strawberry corner? What has caused the club to fundamentally change its stance to standing in the stadium?

I think it’s worth restating the reasons behind the changes we’ve made to Level 7.

The Family Enclosure last season was extremely popular, so much so that demand regularly outstripped supply. It’s important for us to be a family friendly club and to encourage an atmosphere where future generations of supporters feel welcome and are properly catered for.

Given that our previous Family Enclosure wasn’t large enough to accommodate all those wishing to sit there, we took the decision to extend it from 5,000 to 6,500 seats, making it the largest dedicated family area in the Premier League. The sensible thing to do was to extend the existing enclosure into the North West corner, rather than ring-fence a separate pocket of seats elsewhere in the stadium.

The positive result of this has been that we now have an additional 1,000 children and their parents with season tickets in the Family Enclosure this year.

Understandably those fans who had to move seats as a result were disappointed to do so. Whilst it heralded the end of the Level 7 ‘singing section’, we didn’t want to create a new singing section elsewhere in the ground. We would far rather encourage a good vocal atmosphere around the whole stadium than in just one part.

The club hasn’t changed its position with regard to standing. Persistent standing has never been condoned, not least because it’s in breach of strict ground regulations that apply to every club in the country. The safety certificate issued to us by the local authority is conditional on us complying with those regulations. The bottom line is if we don’t take action to address persistent standing, then we will find ourselves in trouble with the local authority and ultimately the Football Licensing Authority.

Just to be clear here, we’re not talking about temporary standing during moments of excitement – that’s part and parcel of enjoying a football match. We’re talking about standing for long periods of the game.

We should point out that less than five percent of fans stand for long periods of a game. The vast majority want to use the seat they’ve paid for and abide by safety regulations. We’ve only had two home games so far, but we’ve already received over a hundred complaints from supporters upset that their matchday experience has been spoilt by a minority of fans who refused to sit down and on occasion used threats of violence and foul and abusive language in response to reasonable requests from fellow supporters.

A number of those complainants actually felt the situation was so disruptive that they chose to leave the ground at half time. That is not fair, plain and simple. We won’t tolerate persistent standing or foul and abusive language and we will look after the needs of the vast majority of supporters by issuing bans to those who continue to ignore our repeated requests.

Part two will follow shortly.

43 thoughts on “Your questions to the board answered – Part one Q.1-Q.6

  1. I can see alot of people being disappointed with these answers. personally im one of them. could of seen these answers from a mile away.

    theres no resolve to any of the situations, just stating facts we already knew!


  2. Why should anyone expect to see something they want to hear/read from Uncle Derek Llambias – it’s just not going to happen – accept this please.

    We, the fans, have no say what-so-ever and the board know this. They also know that despite our frustrations, we will continue to go the the matches and this won’t change – again, we all know this.

    Unless we stop going to matches and gate revenues stop or decrease quite seriously, nothing will change – and again, despite what we feel … we are Geordies and we love out team and we will go to the matches.

    END OF


  3. I would like to know what answers you people wanted to hear.

    Like comment 1 says he could have predicted these answers, so why then is he dissappointed?
    TBH it doesn’t matter what they say some people will never be satisfied.
    Boo bloody hoo.

    Like I say please tell me what you want to hear so I can have a good laugh too.


  4. I’ve read the Chronicle Q1-Q14 and the answers, and whilst we would all say the answers were predictable, they were none more so than the comments under. I’ve no doubt that as the comment sections on here grows the same will apply. It seems pointless to me now…a bit like trying to save a marriage with irreconcilable differences. No matter what the board says some fans will continue to abuse, as no doubt I will get in equal measure after my next statement……”I think that some Newcastle fans are part of the problem….they are now and always have been”. Back in the Keegan days we grew to expect to be on par with ManU & Barca encouraged in no small measure by John Hall & his ilk. They were shown to have feet of clay when push came to shove and like the current bunch were more interested in making money than football. Unfortunately we are not now in the same bracket as the top clubs and unless we as fans lower some of the pressure on the club, which in imo transfers tensions through to the players I don’t think we ever will be. We asked for questions to be answered but some fans had already answered them and no matter what Llambias said he would be lying ….like I said a fairly pointless exercise and the only solution like in marriage is a parting of the ways. If the board aren’t going then those fans who don’t like it have a decision to make, I just wish that when they’ve made it and decided to b&gger off they would stop the constant tirade of abuse directed at the club and fans who decide to stay. A bit like Joey Barton…he’s moved on and should desist from comments, same with the disillusioned fans….go shopping or something, but for god sake mind your own business, if your not with us, your against us!


  5. Anyone criticising the above needs to go to Big Dave for a tattoo on the end of the nose – preferably the word ‘c0ck’


  6. I didn’t really expect much else from these questions as they have had 5 or so days to sort out the answers, and basically it’s just the same shite we have been told before. Nothing new here, but as I said given they had 5 days it doesn’t surprise me.
    The only way to find out the truth is in a question and answer session but that will never happen, probably because they know that no matter what they do the Fans will keep turning up.


  7. Craig

    Season ticket sales are up, not down.

    – The difference is so small its more or less the same.

    They will not change the standing policy

    – we knew this

    They will not change the away ticket policy

    – we knew this

    The wage bill is 65% Ashley would sell if big offer comes in.

    – Fair enough but it was around 80% and it had clearly been reduced

    Joey was offered deal in january which he knocked back

    – We knew this

    Nolan wanted longer deal Jose wanted to leave and would not even discuss terms

    – We knew this

    They knocked back a 30 million offer for carroll

    – we knew this, it was reported on Sky.

    So very little new news.

    I do agree with the fact that sometimes no matter what the do or say, they will be criticized… Sometimes our fans just like to bitch and moan at everything.

    But there answers to the 35mil and the seven months to find a striker! That reply is pathetic.

    They havnt spent a cent of the 35mil. So what, do they plan on spending it over the next 20’s years. Thatvway they wont have to spend any another profits made from ticket and merchadise Sales?

    Negociations for players only broke down at a very late stage… Why did they nite have the deals wrapped up before the last minutes of deadline day?

    They have just brushed off the major questions… With bullshit. And Its clear why Pardew was angry.

    Lambias is good with his figures. Useless with football matters.


  8. Big Dave – you’re gonna be busy today fella – get your kit out – load of noses arriving for a tattoo soon… 😆


  9. Agree that the answers were predictable but i thought it was nice to hear it from the club for a change. I think most people knew the clubs stance on transfer policy etc before this interview so you either agrred with or you didnt beofre the interview and that wasnt going to change your mind. The wages im kinda shocked over ( if true ) I didnt think it would be as high as 65% with an increase of 7% since summer.


  10. For me the telling line is “The upshot is that when we speak publicly more often than not we are criticised.”

    That comment shows they are affected by fan reaction. Actions have consequence. You have communication – receive it, interpret it and learn.


  11. I would agree with you summation JJ.
    I like your last line best.
    “Lambias is good with his figures. Useless with football matters”
    spot on mate.


  12. Now here’s a novel thought: what if they are telling the truth?

    Just because you have a different interpretation of events doesn’t mean they are lying you know.

    I welcome this communication. I didn’t expect any great revelations, but it goes a long way to explaining the grand plan and their thinking on a few topics. And isn’t that what we wanted?


  13. BB – re the opinion (lazy thinking) by many that Llambias is clueless on football matters – if its accepted we have a greatly improved squad since the overpaid prima-donnas that got us relegated. And we have reduced the wage bill while spending very little net outlay. It suggests to me Llambias is ahead of the game on football matters NOT behind it.

    Likeable (in the past) he may not be, but its tough to criticise him on performance.


  14. Stardust – I’m sorry to have to disagree with you, but if he was ahead of the game on football matters as you sugeat perhaps you could point out why we dont have the striker pardew wanted and needed. Also where is the quality back up for center back? Why dont we have a left footed full back at LB.
    No mate you are wrong. imo he has let his manager down totally with his football ineptitude.


  15. I happen to agree with the board although they are appearing to be a lone voice in the wilderness at times….It’s about time the high expectations of mediocre players were reduced, some seem to think that because the Messi’s of this world can command hollywood wages and transfer fees they all should! Incredible!!…Nolan Barton and Carroll are not as good as they think they are and shouldn’t expect super deals. Same should apply to incoming players, you just have to look at the expectations of players like HBA…he seems to have realised that he’s yet to prove himself and settled for a reasonable wages deal. Some of the strikers we were supposed to be in for wanted too much in the clubs estimation, and in my view the club are right. When I buy something I decide if its worth it, and if I don’t think it is then I don’t buy..same rules apply.


  16. BB – Does Santon not count like? He said himself that he is naturally both footed. Is that not just as good? Dare I say it, better?


  17. Also it would suggest to me that they are ahead of the game with financial matters, to the detriment of those on the field.
    The bottom line seems to be, that money is more important than anything else.


  18. BB – I don’t have to comment, please read the above, accept the answer for what it is. Right player, character, deal, sell club wanting to sell, we have to be happy with the deal. They got close but no cigar – that’s life.

    You don’t ditch the fundamentals because you struggle short term.

    Fans asked the questions, you have the answers, your questions are born out of the fact that their answers aren’t either understood by you, or you don’t like them (the answers and or people) 😉


  19. Toonsy I hear you mate, and NO I’m not dissing the lad, but where does he play for italy? He may be both footed as he says, but I still think he is stronger on his right. Yes he can play at LB I dont doubt, but I would have prefered Pieters there and Santon on the right. Just my opinion, but it seems like a make-do situation.
    Feel free to disagree tho


  20. Q4 lambias says.
    “At that stage we turned our attention to other available players on our shortlist. However we will not compromise our transfer policy by making rash and costly signings that are not right for this club. Many clubs live to regret knee-jerk business decisions conducted in the final few days of the window. We have no interest in players reaching the end of their careers who are offered for extortionate fees and demand long-term contracts and high wages”

    ruiz and the zog,were knee jerk


  21. Like I say 8 months hard negotiations and nada at the end of it.
    I dont have a problem with the above answers, just your comment that they are ahead of the game on footballing matters.
    I just think you got that wrong is all. Feel free to patronise me tho with your superior intelect and understanding. (NOT ! ).


  22. “They got close but no cigar – that’s life.”

    That seems to be the case every window since Lambias has been here Stardust.
    They may find the odd bargain in midfield and defense, but when it comes to strikers, you usually have to pay to get quality.

    Look at what Man United payed for Wayne Rooney, or what City paid for Aguerro, or Chelsea paid for Drogba, Liverpool payed for Suarez.

    Its very very rare that you are going to pick up a Van Persie for a couple million. And even then his goal record is only 1 in 3 compared to the others 1 in 2. All these players are worth around the 40mil mark.

    Yet we are trying to get in a quality striker for under 8mil and on low wages.
    At this rate, they could “try” for the next few years and not come right.


  23. ‘Our wage bill this season will increase by seven percent as a result of the business weve done”

    Surely this is bull?

    Getting rid of;
    Nolan – 40k?
    Barton – 60k?
    Enrique – 40-50k?
    Carroll – 35k?
    add to that.
    and our bill goes up with foreign imports?

    Don’t believe that for a second.


  24. BB @ 20. I think that’s the crux of the matter.

    The board want to have a self-financing club and fans want a football team that competes with the best – and that costs money. The two things are, it seems, at this point in time, incompatible as far as the board is concerned.

    It’s frustrating as all hell for us, though.


  25. I’m not down mate, but like I say, imo they have let down their manager by their actions in the transfer window.
    Time will tell


  26. JJ completely agree mate, the answer to the failure to get a striker with seven months to do it was pitiful, was the one answer that I wanted to hear.

    Most of the rest was to be expected, nothing new. As Johno said most people knew the policy / method of running the club financially beforehand, you either agree with it or don`t.

    Good to get a current stance to make reference to in future all the same, even if we knew half of it already.


  27. Spot on. It’s common sense really. The expectation that we should live beyond our means is daft. I agree with the long term plans.

    As I wasn’t a party to the last 8 months negotiations with players, I have to give the board the benefit of the doubt. The £35m, well, that would be very easy to see if it left the club, as it would be in the accounts as a dividend payment, or payment of directors loan.

    I think many people need to lower their expectations and perhaps get a grasp on how a business is run. Being a football club doesn’t exclude it from sensible fiscal policy.


  28. Hitman – But you can add on Tiote’s pay rise.

    Then you have Cabaye, Marveaux, Obertan, Ba, Santon.

    If they average 40k a week that is the outgoing wages countered for immediately. And that is assuming that they are on that low. Personally I feel that 50k a week is more precise for some of them such as Cabaye, Marveaux and Ba.


  29. Hitman – nearly did a typo and typed Hotman – yikes!

    I said in the summer that to get the likes of Cabaye – they were targeting players at the end of their deals or low buyouts – so they could afford the higher wages.

    Also as the quality of the squad goes up and numbers increase its a tough balance hence the need for first class youngsters to drop the average wage.

    Its all brilliant business fella.

    JJ – we aint got 40mn to spend on one player, so rather than paying top dollar for second and third choices the top clubs don’t want, we have to act differently.


  30. Regarding the 35 million at no point did they say it would all go on transfers , they said it would stay in the club . How much of it has gone on undersoil heating and up grades at Benton and the up keep of SJP ? As much as we would all of loved it to have been spent on new players , that was never going to happen . In the end they did not lie on this point , there was never a sum of money mentioned that pardew would get to spend on transfers . We all just hoped it would all of been spent , but at the end of the day if improved training facilities means less injuries and fitter players does that at least not mean a step forward .


  31. i think that we all agree that ashley has just taken out the 35 million and it aint ever coming back. that one answer was total pap for sure. The rest tho, i think its fair enough really. the wage bill going up 7% yes well, that could be true but as it was able to sustain shearer and owen on 110k each, duff on 70k ,martins on similar and countless others.. i am not so sure how they make it arrive only 5% less than it was before we got relegated tbh. Perhaps Dekka is adding in all the staff now inc himself and ashleys anual bonus’s. cos otherwise the figures have been well and truly massaged thats for sure.
    The rest though, its all pretty much ‘fair enough’ for me. No big deal.


  32. Craig – “we all agree”

    I don’t. I still this it’s there. Maybe not all of it but it’s there in the club, somewhere.

    Also “that could be true but as it was able to sustain shearer and owen on 110k each, duff on 70k ,martins on similar and countless others.”

    It wasn’t sustainable in the long run. That is why we were losing circa £30 million per season during that time,


  33. toonsy, i dont know about loosing 30 million a season tbh… none of it adds up and never will. if we were loosing 30 million a season why were we only 100 million in debt with 42 million being the stadium, and all the big name players we used to buy back in them days, and all that with hald the amount of tv rights we get these days. I do hear what you are saying but sorry bonny lad… none of it adds up, and i think thats exactly how they like it to be aswell.


  34. great links toonsy and like you say, they make very interesting reading.
    First off, we were not loosing 30 million year on year as is said, we lost 33 million in 2007 only, previous year was half that and before that it was virtually nothing, like -2 million. The large portion of the 33 million loss was owen coming in at 17 million.
    Our tv revenue was only 25 million.. its 10’s of millions more now.

    OK, now here is the bit i like .. our wage bill in 2007 was its highest ever at nufc under ff and that was cos of Owen… it was… 62.5%. the year before it was 52.2% and gets less each year. Answer me this one, our squad is 25% smaller now than it was then and the vast majourity of the high earners are gone now… why is dekka saying today our wage bill is 65% …. for all the slagging down he has done about FF regime blah blah…in four years they got shot of the fat cats and big names, put us through relegation loosing 30 million, spent 12 million on sacked managers and have in actual fact increased our wage bill by 2.5%… does that make much sense to you bud cos to me it does not.. like i said b4.. thats just how they like it.


  35. Craig – When it comes to facts and figures I generally don’t do hearsay and speculation. To me the 65% (based on 10th placed finish I’ll add) is hearsay and speculation.

    However bear in mind that our income has DROPPED in that time. It’s now nearer to £80 million a year. The TV money may have gone up, but the corporate,sponsorship and gate receipts are down. 65% of £80 million would give us a wagebill of about £55-£60 million, which isn’t far off what I guessed it to be to be honest.

    Mind you the only time I’ll believe anything is when they appear in the accounts filed with Companies House, which is unfortunate as it means that they are often outdated before they become public knowledge.


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