Mike Ashley exposed – Proof NUFC have much more than £12m to spend this summer?

Newcastle United will soon release their latest set of financial results, leaving us to wonder just how much – or how little – the start of the coronavirus pandemic impacted the club.

Our club previously released its data in May 2020, so an updated analysis is imminent. Last time out, we recorded an after tax profit of £34.7million.

Recent reports suggest that Mike Ashley is set to hand Steve Bruce a measly summer transfer budget of £12million – enough to buy Joe Willock’s left leg – so we thought: why not investigate to see whether these numbers add up?

Figures released last year account for the financial year ending 2019, so the new, soon-to-be released calculations will only factor in the first few months of the pandemic. Our job is to try and estimate beyond that so see how much we really have to play with.

The obvious financial difference is the lack of matchday revenue due to COVID, with income nonexistent barring the Sheffield United game in the penultimate game of the season. Even then, only 10,000 fans were allowed inside the ground; at a push, our gate would have only generated around £200k, down from £24.8million last time out.

The Premier League have not announced their prize money payments for the 20-21 season, but Planet Football estimates ours to be £121.4million; this includes the equal share fee as well as our reward for finishing 12th. Our final day win at Fulham along with other results going our way saw us move three places up the table, gaining us around £7million in merit payments (usually £2million-£2.5million per position).

All clubs – barring West Brom and Fulham – had to pay broadcasters a rebate for unfulfilled contract obligations due to coronavirus in March last year – Newcastle United’s bill was believed to be around £4.5million.

Overall, our Premier League payments were down £9.1million on the previous season. When Ashley is notorious for having a wallet that’s tighter than a submarine door, those few millions here and there really do dent our potential transfer budget.

On the flip side, NUFC are set to recoup a small windfall due to Norwich and Watford no longer receiving parachute payments after the duo were promoted back to the big time at the first attempt. Both were expected to cop around £83million between them in the next two seasons, with that figure now split between remaining Premier League clubs.

A quick calculation means we can expect around £4.2million to be put back into the coffers thanks to the successes of those two clubs.

Wages are an area where Toon fans may feel we have some wriggle room. The club’s financial accounts last year put our wage bill at a huge £96.8million. Bearing in mind those figures are taken from the end of the 2019 season, that data is almost two years old – an awful lot has happened since then.

For starters, Steve Bruce’s wages dwarf in comparison to Rafa Benitez’s, but a leveller for that is the added bill for signings Joelinton, Callum Wilson and Allan Saint-Maximin, who have all arrived in that time. The latter, alongside Martin Dubravka, has recently penned a lucrative six-year contract, so our wage bill is a grey area until official figures are released.

That said, a huge burden will be lifted when Henri Saivet, Christian Atsu and Andy Carroll officially leave the club at the end of the month. The trio’s pay packets combined equate to a reported £6million each year. Yoshinori Muto is another one on astronomical wages – £50,000-per-week according to The Chronicle – who we will try to move on, so things do look positive on this front. It’s also worth noting that former forgotten men Rolando Aarons and Achraf Lazaar were finally moved on earlier this year – a good job done considering the latter was believed to earn around £30,000-a-week.

Taking all of this into consideration, let’s assume our wage bill has stayed roughly the same since last released. After all, we know how stringent Ashley is when it comes to balancing the books, so it would be safe to suggest that this figure has hardly changed. The departure of Saivet, Atsu and Carroll is likely to give us extra room to play with, which puts our wage bill estimate at £93million.

Finally, the worst-kept secret at the club is our new kit deal with Castore, expected to fetch in around £5million per season. This has minimal impact on our commercial revenue – £26.7million in 2019 – due to the Puma deal being roughly the same amount.

Totals:

  • + £121.4million Premier League
  • + £26.7million Commercial Revenue
  • + £4.2million Parachute Payments
  • + £200k Matchday Revenue
  • – £119million Operating costs (including £93million wages)
  • – £4.5million Broadcaster rebate

So what does this all mean?

Based on our calculations, Newcastle United should have more like £29million to play with (plus player sales) in the transfer market this summer. Of course, that is if Ashley sticks to his promise of allowing the club to spend every penny that it generates.

On the front, a plausible – but not guaranteed – source of income is what we can generate from player sales. Matt Ritchie and Ciaran Clark – despite being popular among supporters – have both been linked with moves away, while the likes of Florian Lejeune, Freddie Woodman, Dwight Gayle and Karl Darlow have also been named as players who we could yet cash in on to raise funds.

To avoid uncertain guesswork, we have calculated our figures as if nobody of note will be sold by the club this summer. It would take a huge offer to prize biggest asset Allan Saint-Maximin away. With other clubs also short of cash, it seems unlikely that anybody will pay the mooted £70million fee.

A far more likely scenario is the sale of Adam Armstrong to a top flight club, with ourselves, West Ham and Southampton all reportedly interested in the Blackburn hitman. Our trump card is the 40% sell-on clause we put in the deal when he was offloaded to The Rovers three years ago. He is almost certain to be on the move, which means we could recoup around £10million if someone pays their alleged £25million asking fee.

If matchday revenue was a thing over the past 18 months we would be looking at another £25million on top of that, which makes you think just how much Ashley has been creaming off the top over the years.

Basically, it feels like reports pointing towards a minuscule budget are either way off or the leaks to the press are disingenuous. Newcastle United has far more to spend than £12million this window; any attempts to use the pandemic as an excuse should be shut down and challenged by supporters.

Ashley himself has profited big time during COVID. His net worth soared by £700million last year at a time where people have lost their jobs and businesses. Our own club staff were made redundant while his own personal value rose by the best part of a billion pounds.

Our club should still have the tools to enjoy an astute summer if we do our business properly. Don’t let anybody tell you otherwise, and feel free to send them this article if they do!

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