Are Newcastle really a big club?

A big ground, but are we a big club?
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.

About toonsy

A lifelong Newcastle fan and current webmaster of this very 'blog who has the sole aim of creating a place by Newcastle United fans, for Newcastle United fans.

110 thoughts on “Are Newcastle really a big club?

  1. I see Barton has been suitably poked and prodded and obliged to the media today by going off on one, calling them names, and even offering to meet one face to face to sort out differences 🙄

    When will he learn?


  2. Agree with you JJ. I have watched Obertan and never thought of him as pacy. Looks more confident on the ball than Routledge though (almost anyone would fit that bill however). Definitely Obertan over Routledge and we all know Jonas’s problems with end product but we don’t really know how Marveaux’s end product will be either. Almost impossible to compare them as the team will have changed so much. I fear the squad is getting too young to cope with the long season, especially once we get into winter. We won’t have enough seasoned pros to cope with several losses in a row. We definitely must get a second striker in as we don’t have enough goals in this team.


  3. @Liam
    You don’t think fatty is to blame for relegation? 😯 😯

    Was everyone not crying out for investment in the January window ? It was plain for everyone but Ashley and Lamearse to see we were in freefall.

    He gambled on us finishing 4th bottom and he failed miserably.
    He admitted himself he fell woefully short in his judgements.

    Get real fella. 🙄


  4. ” Looks like we got the winger (though I’d prefer Barnetta)”
    We, you ask me what I mean by established players, then said that?
    Pootle- please stop adding words to my comments that are not there- it’s tiresome after it happens the first dozen times. I did NOT list Obertan as an “established” player like I did the others. All I said was that we got a winger. If Obetan is not a winger, then the mistake is mine.


  5. There is plenty of blamne to go round fo rrelegation. The players we had should have been enough really but didn’t seem like they could be bothered. But I blame Ashley for the unrest starting with the Keegen fiasco and the embarrassing manager carousel that followed.


  6. Bobby i dont disagree; just cant forgive those players who took us down; no heart for the club


  7. Pootle—the problem is you don`t understand commercialism, spend more than you earn = bust. It really is that simple, got nothing to do with turnover!!
    I`ll try to explain it more slowly for you, NUFC owes ASHLEY £150 mill.
    he is trying to get the club self funding, quite right he is not going to prop it up forever–the trick is how far do you go to get everything under control without risking the clubs premiershhip survival which would be self defeating.
    If you have a £100mill turnover and a trading margin of 20%, your bottom line Gross Profit is £20 mill, but if your outgoings are £30mill, You lose £10 mill and you go bust if no cash reserves or other types of funding.
    This is where we are— if we can move on players we don`t want, Xisco`s/ Smiths etc then the whole dynamic changes!


  8. i hate to say this…..big fans…..big heart….not a lot of dosh =not a big club=big players wont come here cos nufc wont meet the wages and conditions players want today simples………


  9. Somehow or the other every post seems to end up in a big disagreement.

    I think we can all agree that we’re all very passionate about seeing our club do well, just that how we think that can best be achieved is very, very different indeed.

    In other news, there’s an “unnamed french trialist” who played in the closed doors friendly tonight. Apparently he plays as a striker and replaced Nile Ranger on 45 mins. Seems like there may be a new striking addition after all, will be interesting to see how that pans out…


  10. JJ, as Toonys stated we have no collateral left, don`t forget our cantilever stand extension cost £70 mill ffs, more than the Stad of ****e/ and half of the smogside added together.
    Ash`s company is a secured and preferential creditor, no bank will rank 2nd to that, simple.
    Look, I wish it was different too but it isn`t, we need to be patient and lose some of the top earning trash we don`t want.
    I`m just stating the facts!


  11. @CT

    I dont think you understand the situation.

    According to Ashley we have a 5 yr plan.

    He has earmarked £20m per season to invest in the team.

    We sell Carroll and Nolan and now routers for in excess of £40m on fees and if you include wages a damn lot more.

    We have so far bought Cabaye for £4.5m and Ba and Marveaux on frees but again if wages included a few more million.

    Now we have obertan for £3m.

    At what point did you lose the plot with figures?

    You really are struggling fella. I would give up . 😯


  12. What even is a big club? Meh, we probably do count in terms of support, not so much in terms of trophies….I’d say, top 7?


  13. @thad

    You say ;
    Somehow or the other every post seems to end up in a big disagreement.

    So what? That’s what a blog is all about. Differing opinions will always happen.

    Do you want us to agree with each other just to keep the peace? 🙄


  14. @90. Boby, I think the 20M per year was after the club was solvent, was it not? I could be wrong about that though…


  15. Agree totally about the top earning trash CT. Xisco, Smith will be gone as soon as it can be done. Smith is finished and knows it, just playing out his contract. Xisco laughing all the way to the bank like Luque before him. We can’t afford any more mistakes of that magnitude. Can’t argue with you too much about finances but are all the profits made from player sales in the last 3 years being taken into account? Also surely if you add 30M or so from the Carroll money to the club’s income this year Ashley will take in at least 120M pounds. This should be more than just a break even year with little spending as we have seen.


  16. Bobby, Don`t lose sight £150mill debt needs to be repaid. Ash said £20 mill per year once club is solvent. Me struggle? Never ❗


  17. Thad
    August 8, 2011 at 17:57

    “Just did a bit of scouting around the forums, apparently the young french trialist is Yaya Sanogo”

    That name rings a bell??? Weren’t we linked with him before?

    Just Googled him and he turns out to be a beast on Football Manager by the looks of it 😆


  18. GeordieTwo
    August 8, 2011 at 18:08

    “Can’t argue with you too much about finances but are all the profits made from player sales in the last 3 years being taken into account?”

    Despite player sales we’ve still made losses year on year, some of them substantial. Is there really any profit if the bottom line has a minus in front of it?


  19. ” Pootle- please stop adding words to my comments that are not there- it’s tiresome after it happens the first dozen times. I did NOT list Obertan as an “established” player like I did the others. All I said was that we got a winger. If Obetan is not a winger, then the mistake is mine.”

    What on earth are you talking about?
    Your words are a direct quote – note the quotation marks. The bit after is my comment on it.
    You questioned what I meant by getting ‘established’ players – then provided a perfect example of what I meant.
    I would prefer Barnetta over Obertan too. Why?
    Because Barnetta is an established international, Obertan is a gamble.


  20. So what is the answer CT? I think you are down playing the club’s income to make Ashley look better. Of course we know the club owes him 135M pounds but almost every club in England owes money. I agree Ashley has stabilized the finances which is a very good thing but the football side needs to be considered as well. Is Derek Llambias your idea of a good managing director or anyone else’s for that matter? Does football have equal importance with finance for Ashley? He will get every penny of his money back and more UNLESS he takes us down again. Then he deserves whatever loss he has to take. Pardew is in an impossible position. He has to please his master yet he has to answer to the supporters as well.


  21. Toonsy there is no overall profit yet but I guess my point is that last season was the turn-around season. Deloitte’s report will tell us that when it comes out for the 2010 season. And this year Ashley will begin to make a good return (mostly by keeping most of the Carroll money). I stick with the estimate that for 2011-2012 Ashley will turn a sizeable profit which should then be used to pay down some of the club’s debt to him. Things will get even better for him in 2012-2013 because several more high earners will be off the books including Smith. Then the profits should get very juicy indeed. Newcastle will probably become the most profitable club in England within 3 years and the fat man will be rubbing his hands with glee (as long as we don’t go down of course). The plan is really quite clever and we should see some decent football but never really get close to winning anything.


  22. I must have misread your commnet.

    You said “We, you ask me what I mean by established players, then said that?” I took that to mean that I was calling obertan “established” which I was not. I’ve been calling for Barnetta for months.


  23. @BSN9

    Nah, I’ve been around long enough to know that everyone’s going to have an opinion, and things are going to get heated etc. Just saying, when I read the umpteenth comment thread that sounds like the same debate that we had yesterday, and the day before, and the day before, and pretty much the whole summer really, my brain tends to puke a little bit.

    I’m entitled to that opinion aren’t I? :mrgreen:

    I reckon all Carr does is pull up the latest FM database, pull up everyone that has a high potential and then go watch them. If you actually load up last year’s DB, you will see that Cabaye’s contract does indeed have the 4.5m release clause in there. Gives weight to that theory 😉


  24. CT the problem is you don’t seem to understand English. At no point in any post did I say the club should spend more than it earns.
    That’s all in your fevered imagination.
    Your arguments are stuffed full of logical fallacies and ad hominem attacks because they are fundamentally weak. I mean you invented a whole argument where I (in your imagination) said we should spend more than we earn.


  25. Next year our wages bill will be much better. Barton, Smith, Shola, Xisco all on 50g or more.


  26. I love how the first half or so was about the question in the title, then it suddenly turned into some sort of Ashley financial love in.

    To say your financial logic is skewed is the understatement of the year (whichever year that may be). You’ve used figures from the Championship season as regards turnover and wages to turnover ratio, with a small disclaimer saying it would have improved in the Premiership.


    You are basically miles out, and it’s misleading. Our wages to turnover ratio is already supposedly less than 50%, which is very manageable. Once we lose more high earners it’ll be even lower and even more manageable.

    We’ll easily have the 7th highest turnover, with only Liverpool and the other European placed teams as higher.

    By the end of August we’ll have paid off £28million of debt to Ashley, and we’re still doing it in a manageable way. I don’t know where you get your debt figure from, but as far as I was aware we don’t owe any debt other than to Ashley.

    From 2012 onwards we’ll have Smith off the books, and we’ll probably have Barton and Enrique off the books this season too. Our wages to turnover ratio could be as low as 35% in 2013 when Colo and Xisco depart.

    We’re not in bad shape financially at all, and if we continue to make aprofit in every transfer window we’ll be stinking rich in 3 years time. Well, somebody will.


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