I remember the day Newcastle were relegated to the Championship like it was yesterday.
I watched it in my mates front room where he cried like a girl. He’s 6”2 and built like a tank. When his Gran said she didn’t understand why he was so upset he told her to ‘F*** off’.
I was also devastated but I always try to see the silver lining in every cloud. In an attempt to stop him bubbling I gave my opinion that, long term, it could be the best thing to happen to Newcastle. I think, with the benefit of hindsight, I was right.
We had a squad which on paper, was oozing with talent, experience and class. Realistically, most of them were interested in picking up their pay packet instead of points. We had a bunch of overpaid under-achievers which was dragging us nowhere but down.
I genuinely think that if we had stayed up it would have difficult to rebuild a broken squad. I don’t think the likes of Obafemi Martins, Sebastien Bassong, Damian Duff, Habib Beye, Shay Given (although he was one of our best), Michael Owen and Charles N’Zogbia would have been all shipped out and would still be earning mega bucks for little effort or desire.
Newcastle were in serious need of a personnel and financial overhaul. The Championship is the best place for that to happen. Players who, at the time where underachieving are now our key players; such as Fabricio Coloccini and Jonas Gutierrez. It gave a platform for the players left with desire to build their confidence and get that winning feeling. It was a time for ‘lesser lights’ such as Andy Carroll, Joey Barton, Kevin Nolan and Jose Enrique to enhance their names.
Financially it is estimated that relegation loses you £25m instantly, and that is without other specific losses like commercial revenue. We received around £45mil for those four waters above. I think you will all agree that they’re worth nowhere near that. To put it into perspective, Tottenham’s midfield against Aston Villa cost £40mil; arguably the best midfield in the league.
Even though I hate to think about finances in football and want to see Newcastle do well, we’ve even scored on the financial front. The Championship allowed us to greatly reduce our wage bill (by about 50%), find out who really wanted to play for us (anyone remember ‘Mr Newcastle’, Damien Duff?) and rebuild our squad and reputation. It was also great for us, the fans, to get used to expecting a win every game.
When we were promoted back to the Premier League – where we belong in my view – it was clear to see the difference. We had a TEAM and not 11 egotistical money grabbers. Now we were winning those 50/50 balls, going that extra mile. The football may not have been silky and flowing at times but as results showed, it worked. We were putting 4, 5 and 6 past opposing teams. There was a real desire to prove a point.
From a rebuilding the squad perspective we needed to get rid of the overpaid players. To bring in players like Hatem Ben Arfa, Yohan Cabaye and Davide Santon for the fees we paid and the wages we pay, you can’t have players earning one wage and expect the new big boys to take a lower wage. They would want the same, and why not. Ashley may divide opinions, (I personally hate him for some things and realistically think long term he is what the club needed – financial stability) but you can’t knock the way he’s sorted out the way we were handing money out like sweets to fat children.
We’re now one of the only teams around to be financially stable and looking to actually make money. This can only be a good thing long term. It will allow Newcastle United to grow steadily back to where we belong. If we crack Europe then the money will significantly increase. It makes me exited to think of what Mr. Carr could do with £8m-£10m per player instead of £4m-£5m per player.
Yes, relegation was a bitter pill to swallow and yes we shouldn’t have found ourselves in that position but we did. For Newcastle United though it has allowed us to strip down to the bare bones, get rid of the overpaid wasters, half our wage bill, extort Andy Carrol to the Scousers and build a classy, hard working and young squad.
How many of you would have thought we’d be sitting in 4th in the Premier League leading up to Christmas two and a half years ago? If Damien Duff had been just a few inches to the side that day I don’t think we would be anywhere near where we are today.
Fine margins indeed!
Thanks to Ross for sending this in. A well reasoned argument indeed, but do you agree? Was relegation the catalyst to our recent success? Could we have done everything we’ve done since relegation with a Premier League income? Would it have been easier that way? Your thoughts please.