Why this summer could be one of the biggest at NUFC – 5 big questions that will be answered

Newcastle have their hands full with a survival battle on the pitch but it is hard to not also think about what awaits us in the summer. It will be one of the biggest in our recent history, with the future of our manager, players and owner up in the air.

What key questions need answered for the long term future of the club?

What division will we be playing in?

The win against Manchester united provided our season with a much needed shot in the arm but we are still only two points clear of the drop. It is likely to go right to the wire and this weekend’s trip to Bournemouth is another key game. A Chronicle poll showed that the win over Man Utd has shifted Newcastle fans opinions on us avoiding the drop, with most now thinking we will stay clear of trouble come May. This is a stark contrast the glum mood we all had a few weeks ago as we slid down the table.

I think we will stay up, even if it is not by a big margin. Other sides are in trouble too and it is likely we just need to collect another ten points to avoid a return to the Championship. If we can stay up, it would open up other questions on where the club would go next in the summer.

Will we finally have new ownership?

There has been enough written on this already and like most fans, I find it hard to know what to believe on this anymore. Latest rumours are that PCP may yet return with a new offer but even if they don’t and we stay up, we need to find a new owner.



Ashley has driven the club into the ground and to avoid more failure on the pitch we need more investment. With the new TV deal finalised and our fate of which division we are playing in sorted soon, the summer should see fresh developments on the takeover saga, whether it is PCP or someone else.

Will Rafa Benitez stay?

Since arriving at the club there have always been question marks on his future and there always will be. Having a manager of this calibre will mean other clubs will always be interested in taking him from Newcastle and it is up to the club to match his ambitions. He is settled here, has a rapport with the fans but that only goes so far. He took over when we were in dire need and got us back up.

It is time he got the same level of commitment from the boardroom and that is the key to his long term future at NUFC. I think it’s fair to say if Ashley doesn’t sell, then Rafa may well walk.

Will we keep key players?

We need new players, that is clear, but there are a few players that we need to keep as well.

Lascelles has grown again this season and has shown to be a real leader and focal point of the side. If he continues he may attract interest from elsewhere and being English, this always makes him more attractive to Premier League rivals.

Mikel Merino has been out of the side with the superb form of Diame but he is still young and clearly has potential. Linked with Bilbao in January, it would be good to ensure he remains here ready for the new season.

Rafa has already tied down Dummett with a new long term contract; not the most technical player but one who is a good character and the type that we need to keep. The form of loan signings Kenedy, Dubravka and Slimani needs to be monitored too.

Will we see long overdue investment into the club?

Regardless of the takeover, we MUST see investment this summer. We have scraped by this year with a pitiful net spend and Ashley may get away with it if we stay up. But that tactic won’t work next year and certainly won’t keep Benitez. He has to spend or sell, the situation is reaching a head and whilst the fans are supporting the team as usual, if Rafa leaves and we don’t spend it will be the final straw for most fans.

The frustration I have with all these questions is that they are all interlinked; if we are taken over it is likely Rafa will stay, we will retain key players and see much needed investment in new players. It very much feels like this summer will be a crossroads for the club, with us either entering an exciting new ear full of hope or, we are forced to remain in the rut Ashley has created.

(Fancy writing for us? Send any articles/ideas over to us at [email protected] & we’ll get back to you!)

About Simon Riddlesden

Lifelong Newcastle United fan and East Stand season ticket holder. Observations from a supporter who has followed NUFC during Champions League participation and through relegation, taking me from Milan to Scunthorpe.

43 thoughts on “Why this summer could be one of the biggest at NUFC – 5 big questions that will be answered

  1. Sham from the last thread, I don’t think Sunderland will disappear completely but if they go down to the 3rd tier they could be in the wilderness for 5-10 years. Financial mismanagement wrecked Leeds and Rangers so the Mackems would not be immune. Their finances are a mess and the numbers don’t add up for a 3rd division club, even with parachute payments. You have an unmotivated squad and a manager who instead of trying to fix it is calling the players out and saying the only solution is new ownership. Unfortunately for him he has boxed himself in because new ownership usually means new management 🙂

    I don’t think an indebted 3rd tier club would be attractive to new owners even with Sunderland’s stadium and support. The problem would be that there would not be the carrot of Premier League riches for at least 2 years so there would be more attractive options. Whoever goes down this season for example or Derby or Forest. An investor wanting to make money or have the prestige of the PL would look elsewhere until and if the Mackems rehabilitate themselves.

    I know this is probably a boring subject for most but there is not a whole lot else going on. After Bournemouth we have another bloody 2 weeks off.

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  2. As to the article, we are in a classic Catch 22 situation. If we stay up and Rafa stays we are more attractive to potential buyers and Ashley will stick to his price. If he doesn’t sell then Rafa probably walks. If we go down we are much less attractive to buyers, Rafa walks and the Fatman probably wont sell at a big discount. And I mean BIG discount because Villa were sold for 60 million and Ashley is supposedly wanting 350 million.

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  3. The answer to the questions is dependent on one thing -new owners.
    New owners is what this club needs if it is to ever challenge, and retain both Rafa and it’s best players.
    Will it happen, I doubt it as the owner has never had any intention to let go of his free advertising cash cow despite what he tells Craigy at sky.
    Plus I really think he hates us and seems to enjoy teasing us with the clubs for sale talk.
    Can only hope he continues his glutinous lifestyle and meets an early demise because of it.
    Harsh ? maybe, but I really dislike the guy and everything he does in business seems almost dickinsian, he really is scrooge personified .

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  4. kimtoon:
    The answer to the questions is dependent on one thing -new owners.
    New owners is what this club needs if it is to ever challenge, and retain both Rafa and it’s best players.
    Will it happen, I doubt it as the owner has never had any intention to let go of his free advertising cash cow despite what he tells Craigy at sky.
    Plus I really think he hates us and seems to enjoy teasing us with the clubs for sale talk.Can only hope he continues his glutinous lifestyle and meets an early demise because of it.
    Harsh ? maybe, but I really dislike the guy and everything he does in business seems almostdickinsian, he really is scrooge personified .

    Forgot about him not getting the England sponsorship deal for Tat Direct. I think that makes it less likely that he will sell his current giant free advertising signs at Saint James’ Park.

    There is a very small silver lining in that he has said the Manager can have all of the money generated by NUFC and actually did this when he let Schteve and Carr spend the whole bank balance in the last relegation season. So I do believe he would let Rafa spend but will not put any of his own money into NUFC.

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  5. Premandup:
    Oh Dear
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/43157628

    Prem: this is what I was saying yesterday, although I had no fore-knowledge that he would actually give the club away. It just made sense because of their predicament and the fact he is stuck between a rock and a hard place – he can give the club away and take a tax loss or he can keep it but will have to put up more of his own money.

    If they stay up they would probably get a buyer. Go down and who knows.

    BTW there is a lengthy article about all this in the Guardian today. There is a funny line in it that says Chris Coleman showed his commitment to Sunderland by moving his family to… NEWCASTLE 🙂

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  6. Icedog: Free for 137 mil like

    Ice: it said he would probably write off his own debt meaning only the bank debt of around 67 million would be left. They would never get even that if they go to the 3rd tier with their wages. Villa supposedly went for 60 million. That’s why I wrote about it yesterday, I took a look at the number and realized they are basically screwed if they go down. They really could be the next Coventry, never mind Leeds.

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  7. ERIC sorry but Ime afraid the following yr they will be playing the like of Newport ect maybe even Hartlepool very soon,it’s a bloody long way back mate,maybe Colman is in it long term he’s just bought a house in Newcastle 😀 might have to take a big wage cut like,haven’t got a clue how much he’s on but must be canny to tempt him from the Wales job

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  8. Big weekend for us because some of the other fixtures have relegation rivals playing each other. A win for us and I don’t really care about the others. A draw or a loss and we will go into the break very nervous again. The fixtures:

    Leicester vs Stoke
    Liverpool vs West Ham

    You would have to go with home wins

    Burnley vs Southampton

    You have to go draw here as both teams don’t score

    Brighton vs Swansea
    WBA vs Huddersfield

    A win for any of these teams apart from perhaps WBA hurts us. Have to keep our fingers crossed for draws. The good and bad news is that all are very inconsistent except West Brom.

    Again, unless we win the nerves will be back over the break.

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  9. Actually, was thinking about West Brom and Huddersfield again and any result except a Hudderfield win would work. Pardew supposedly has 2 more games to keep his job. If they lose, I think it is really only this game as they could sack him over the break. A result and he might stay which is bad for West Brom but good for us.

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  10. Oops, I messed up. There isn’t a break. I looked at the fixtures and dates and forgot there is only 28 days in February 🙂 I stand by the rest of what I said except there wil not be a break to be nervous over 🙂

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  11. Eric Sykes:
    Oops, I messed up. There isn’t a break. I looked at the fixtures and dates and forgot there is only 28 days in February I stand by the rest of what I said except there wil not be a break to be nervous over

    That’s my birthday Eric

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  12. Sol Cambell says he wants a mangers job,as he says he has one of the greatest minds in football,God I love me who do you love,ffs

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  13. Some bloody weird people,reading some news from Wales,Newport fire brigade were called out to a guy that had a ring spanner stuck on his penis!!!!wtf,talk about a kick in the nuts

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  14. Forgot Spurs at Palace. You would have to pick Spurs based on form and Palace’s injuries. Of course it will not all pan out as I would like as there is always a surprise.

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  15. Sorry to dwell but SAFC are a major topic in just about every paper. Craig Hope in the Daily Mail is saying they are losing 500k a week, that’s 26 million a year. And that’s in The Championship and with parachute payments. In my opinion, they have to stay up to avoid administration. If they stay up, they can probably find a “buyer” who would take on the bank debt only and basically start again – do a Wolves rather than a Leeds.

    The Chronicle article also said NUFC had a net transfer spend of 14 mil during Ashley’s tenure. TOTAL, not annual. How is that possible? He hasn’t taken any money out of the club. I know we suffered 2 relegations and they had to be paid for but we had 8 years PL money and parachute payments. We must have been paying some stupid wages to some very average players.

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  16. Icedog: Happy 21 st mate

    Ha I wish, it’s on the 28th mate, that’s why I replied to Eric when he said he forgot February only has 28 days.
    Hoping for an early birthday pressie from the Toon on Saturday or a belated one on the 3rd.

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  17. Eric Sykes:
    Sorry to dwell but SAFC are a major topic in just about every paper. Craig Hope in the Daily Mail is saying they are losing 500k a week, that’s 26 million a year. And that’s in The Championship and with parachute payments. In my opinion, they have to stay up to avoid administration. If they stay up, they can probably find a “buyer” who would take on the bank debt only and basically start again – do a Wolves rather than a Leeds.

    The Chronicle article also said NUFC had a net transfer spend of 14 mil during Ashley’s tenure. TOTAL, not annual. How is that possible? He hasn’t taken any money out of the club. I know we suffered 2 relegations and they had to be paid for but we had 8 years PL money and parachute payments. We must have been paying some stupid wages to some very average players.

    Much as they get on my wick, I don’t wish administration on any team, terrible position to be in and heartbreaking for the fans. After all it’s depressing enough having to live there without the football team going bust.

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  18. I wouldn’t wish administration on Sunderland either Kim. I think most fan’s are just bitter that we lost 6 in a row. There owner must make Mike Ashley look like a rocket scientist

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  19. I think we are definitely stuck with Mike Ashley. I was pinning my hopes that he would get the England sponsorship. It may have been a sign that he was definitely leaving. The fa dont want him by the sound of it. Although paying for sponsorship is not what Ashley does best.

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  20. We really need to get something from this Bournemouth game because of what comes next:

    Liverpool away
    Southampton home
    Spurs away

    Our home form has been crap but that is a tough run of 4 games with 3 of them away. Of course we could pick up surprise points like against Man U but before that I think we had picked up only 2 points from top 10 teams.

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  21. Seriously, the next 4 games look like a maximum of 4 points. Anything less and we will be scraping around at 16th, 17th or 18th. The good news is that we probably only need a point per game to stay up and getting Liverpool and Spurs out of the way make the remaining fixtures less formidable.

    They are in good form but they do have off days as well as giving teams a pasting. They also have a full calendar, unlike us.

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  22. Stem:
    How is a interest free loan free when he will get all that money back when he sell’s the club ?

    Because it is not a gift? Loans are expected to be paid back.

    Although the loan was interest free. The free advertising he got has at least balanced that out for him.

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  23. I see from The Chronic that twitter is reacting to the Slimani news by saying we should have kept Mitro. Why? In almost 2 years Rafa has hardly played him even when we were not scoring. His loan to Fulham was as much to balance the books as well.

    Slimani, Dubravka and Kenedy in

    Mitro, Colback and Saivet out

    I don’t think it is a coincidence that the wages paid to the incomings are probably roughly the same as those paid to the outgoings. I think Rafa was told he had to shift Mitro if he wanted Slimani which is why there was that mad scramble on deadline day.

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  24. Shamrock I take your point Shamrock. I have to agree sports direct have been the biggest winners out of this football club. I can’t see Ashley selling the club unless there’s another alternative to advertise his company. I was really hoping England would do us a favor by making sports direct there main sponsor. Can you still advertise sports direct with Newcastle and sponsor England at the same time ?

    No football for 2 week’s, so just hoping this maybe a sign that Ashley’s reign is about to end with hopefully us still in the PL and Benitez as manager. Wishful thinking

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  25. We owe Bournemouth. The game at SJP was the quintessential game of 2 halves where we should have been ahead by a couple in the 1st and then they dominated the 2nd winning with the last kick of the game.

    I think our defense is stronger now though mainly because Dummett is in place of an out of position Manquillo. Lejuene played that day but he has had longer to settle in England and even though he hasn’t played much that has to have an affect.

    We will probably see an unchanged team although Olly made a good call suggesting Moreno as a number 10 instead of Perez. If there is a change, my guess would be Joselu for Perez. We really have to keep Gayle on the pitch as he really is our only natural goalscorer and he did put in a shift against Man U.

    I am going with 2-1 to NUFC.

    The Bournemouth fan said 3-1 to them and Paul Merson’s Giant Balloon Head thinks 2-1 to them. I haven’t seen what the other 2 of the 3 stooges (Owen and Lawro) have said yet.

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  26. Lawro was asked to predict the Bournemouth/NUFC game and replied Liverpool 6 nil. Erm… that is not until next week Mark. “Salah hattrick and Stevie G a brace with Bruce Grobbelaar scoring a penalty”. Focus Mark, that is not until next week, what about B-Mouth NUFC. “Hold on, I’ve got a call, LA Tan you can fit me in at 2 o’clock, thanks Luv”. “What was the question again, gotta go, tarra”.

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  27. icedog:
    Slimali out again two bloody weeks ffs

    Well I saw that coming Ice, thigh problems notoriously hard to shake off, we might get a couple of games out of him if we’re lucky.
    Could be an expensive loan this.

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  28. kimtoon:
    Eric, I have decided to rename paul merson paul merkin, since he is a twat.

    We don’t get him over here but I have been back to the UK a couple of times and wondered what the hell he was on about on Soccer Saturday. Quite often see the quotes though.

    We do get Phil Neville and unlike his brother he is totally useless and wrong most of the time.

    Thankfully, Steve McManamanamanamen has returned to your shores. That high pitched scouse whine was a bit annoying and he was one of these unfunny scousers who think they are funny – there seem to be millions of them.

    Carra’s voice is like nails on a chalkboard which is unfortunate since he is relatively articulate and insightful if I could bring myself to turn the sound up.

    I could go on about who I like and don’t like, but I won’t 🙂

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  29. Jesus, I hope we don’t go down because Rafa will be off and the Championship looks harder than ever. The parachute payments seem to mean nothing as apart from us there really haven’t been teams yo-yoing recently.

    Here’s where we stand from last year:

    Boro, currently 8th and only 3 points off a playoff spot. That is a 4 team crapshoot though and automatic promotion is a very long shot as they are 13 points away.

    Hull, good win today but still 19th and by no means safe.

    Mackems, bottom but it is so tight down there they could still pull it off with 13 games left.

    In theory, the parachute payments should give a relegated team a massive advantage but it doesn’t seem to be working out that way. It doesn’t seem to make up for the burden of PL wages which teams are stuck with when they drop.

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  30. Which brings me to Bournemouth. If we beat them they are back in the sh!t. I highly doubt they would go down but think about it, they gave a 3 year deal of 130k a week to 34 year old Jermaine Defoe. Imagine, that’s worse than Rodwell on 70k.

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