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Are we unbuyable – unmanageable – uninvestable?

Posted on June 3rd, 2009 | 33 Comments |

Victim of Circumstance? or Pantomine Villain?
Victim of Circumstance? or Pantomine Villain?
Sky News this morning was reporting in general that owning a football club  is a thankless task. that the Premier League Teams are in debt to the tune of 3 Billion! Half of that is attributed to Chelsea, Liverpool and Man U – I certainly wouldn’t like to owe that sort of cash when the commodity is as fragile as a footballer.


I ask the following questions from an objective point of view:

1. Are we unbuyable? Less than 2 years ago Big Mike rolled into town and despite the best of intentions, has probably had the two most miserable years of his life, he has now or is about to write of 150million for us, and is underwriting a further 40million to restructured the club – and for a large group of our fans – he is hated for it.

He is told that he doesnt understand football, that he is not a football man, but to be fair there arent any football men with a few billion in the bank – of course the right appointments may well have meant his arrival was a match made in heaven, in fact its the contrary.

So the question is, if an incoming owner despite good intentions cant do right for doing wrong amongst the fans, why would anyone buy us?

2. Are we unmanageable? As many know I have advocated that a fans responsibility is to support a club through thick and thin. Yes from time to time we may disagree with whats happening (I didnt take my paid for seat under the last year of FFS as he was “removing untold cash” from the club.) The same fans who have campaigned so vociferously against Ashley complain he isnt listening, he doesnt understand – the terms “pot””kettle”and “black” spring to mind. Those fans in my opinion turned on the club and were a contributing factor for our relegation this year.

3. In a world where ROI is king, it is only a group who will get kudos and PR from owning Newcastle United that will buy us. The trouble is as we have seen with Mike Ashley IF they come in and despite the best of intentions get things wrong – and the whole implosion from the fans starts again – the kudos and PR benefits are gone.

Ironically at this time its only one thing that might bring in the benefit – the fact Ashley has written off that 150million – it may well be the carrot that is needed for it to be deemed worth a punt.

If we can sell -and its a big if – NUFC will be starting 150million better off after 2 years – an unimaginable amount of money to benefit from – courtesy of MA – some might say thats only right for relegation – I say thank you.

So as we witness actions and consequence of the last season played out in front of us, I ask are we unbuyable, unmanageable – uninvestable?

Comments welcome.

NUFCBlog Author: Stardust Stardust has written 15 articles on this blog.

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33 Responses

  1. Obviously I’m going to disagree about the fans’ responsibility in all this.

    Personally, I didn’t agree with boycoting matches or bringing politics to match day but, as to the other demonstrations, if the fans feel that voicing strong opinions is in the long-term interest of Newcastle United, I fully support it.

    You don’t just stand by and let a car crash happen if you think you can do something to stop it.

    The problem with the whole fan demosntration thing actually lies elsewhere. It lies in the gutless, immature response of Mike Ashley who behaved less like a businessman wanting to make NUFC a success and more like a spoilt child threatening to take his ball home.

    Sure, he came in for some heat, but a determined owner would just suck it up and let his actions speak for him by making things right.

    We still don’t know exactly what happened with Keegan but it wasn’t him resigning or getting sacked or constructively dismissed (or whatever) that sealed my opinion on Mike Ashley, it was the way he handled the whole situation.

    Personally, I think Ashley was beginning to think he’d bitten off more than he could chew before the Keegan debacle and that incident just gave him the excuse he needed to turn tail and run away (or at least try to). He just didn’t want the hassle and financial burden of running a football club when it came down to it.

    I don’t believe he came in with any malicious intent and I think he really did want to do what’s best. It’s just he didn’t have clue what he was doing – a fact he pretty much admitted himself.

    So has it made us unmanageable? No, I don’t think so. We have much going against us just now – relegation, huge wage bill, no manager etc. – but I believe any potential owner will see the fans as an asset and not a burden.

  2. Hugh”I don’t believe he came in with any malicious intent and I think he really did want to do what’s best. It’s just he didn’t have clue what he was doing – a fact he pretty much admitted himself.”

    Thats how I saw it, and the fact that the previous regime had stripped us dry, I cant hate him – we have a lot to be thankful for.

    But I do accept that on seeing the fan reaction he should have came out fighting too. But he is based down south – and thats what his silent chairman was meant to do.

  3. Morning Stardust

    An interesting couple of questions..

    We are clearly ‘buyable’ as we appear to now be a very good acquisition for someone at £100m and potentially only a £40m overdraft or less going forward. Are we ‘unmanageable’ well that’s another issue. I seriously don’t envy anyone taking that job.
    Until quite a number of our fans develop a greater sense of realism and tone down the arrogance ie. best supporters in the land, we’re a huge club,and all that guff I believe we are a very difficult club for anyone to own and we could put a lot of people off coming here.
    I actually feel quite sorry for Mike Ashley (which doesn’t make you popular as you know) as I do believe he bought NUFC with the right intentions. Where it all went pear shaped was the appointments he made. The rest is history but at least he has stood up and told us it was catastrophic, that he made bad decisions etc and he wants to be rid of us. The level of vilification of someone who will have taken nothing out of the club (a la FFS and SJH) and who will have lost between £150 and £190m (which NUFC will benefit from) for the pleasure(?) of owning NUFC for two years is really depressing and quite frankly embarrasing. All the ‘cockney’s out’ brigade make us look like a bunch of neanderthals and xenophobics. The ‘he’s a geordie so he understands the club’ rubbish, the appoint Shearer, Rob Lee, etc etc and any other mates they have because they understand the club even though they have no experience to manage the multi million pound assets is really naive. Yes possibly appoint Shearer but then surround him with people who know what they’re doing and have the experience to help his development.
    I find it a really interesting topic as I’m certain the fans sensational reactions to an odd piece of news in the daily rags is exactly what makes the newspapers keep the spotlight on us. Our fervour becomes very destructive too quickly and it will be interesting to see how a new owner copes with all this.
    So defiinetley buyable, certainly extremely difficult to manage.

  4. Just following up on that point, a chairman with experience at a football club might have made a huge difference.

    I really don’t know why Llambias is there other than for being Ashley’s buddy.

    I don’t know this for certain because, as I said, we really don’t know what went on with Keegan, but I reckon Chris Mort would have handled it better. Even if he couldn’t have prevented Keegan going, I’m sure he’d have handled the aftermath better.

  5. I think that was his biggest mistake Hugh – as Deb says (great post Deb – I agree with every word)his choice of Director of Football / Chairman whoever, was wrong for this club – but to be fair to him, he probably appointed people he knows and trusts as they were custodians of his cash.

    I would have loved to have seen him come out and give some of the fans what for – it wouldnt be PC but I would have likes that.

    It all comes back to the same three things, Keegans walkout and the uncertainty around it, lack of PR, and choices of sidekick that were not appropriate for our fan base.

    I say with 100% honestly that I believe if he had kept the fans onside we would have had a decent enough season.

    Either way it has been a blumin expensive lesson for him.

  6. Didn’t take you long to get this blog on to your agenda Stardust!

    2nd day?

    For what it’s worth I think an owner should own the club and let people who know about football run the club.

    Chelsea appointed Kenyon because Abromovitch knew nothing about football.

    That’s how it should work.

    NUFC has turned into a old friends club and Ashley’s friends have let him down badly!

  7. I don’t believe we are unmanageable, but we certainly aren’t the same as managing someone like Everton, Villa, etc.. We are unique. We are a club that still has it’s local identity firmly intact. Something I think even ManU fans admire. Yes, I do wish we had even a small part of their success, but they are no longer a local club. They are Manchester in name only. Man City will go the same way too, as have Chelsea and Arsenal. At the risk of attracting spurs fans, I think spurs are probably the biggest London team that still have an affinity with their city.
    No matter how much we do or do not like it, NUFC is a local team for local people. Yes, we have attracted supporters from around the world, but we are still firmly a local team with strong links to the city and the surrounding communities. This makes us unique and with that comes a unique set of supporters and a unique set of demands. It’s probably why only people who really understand the region have made a decent job of running the club and managing the team.

    As for unbuyable, perhaps this is down to the seller? You know I’m not part of the bed sheet brigade, but I also feel that Ashley isn’t the nicest person to deal with. If true, the reports that he wanted a rediculous amount for the club when he first put us up for sale, shows how arrogant and naive he is.

    Sorry, but I still don’t buy into the fans being detrimental to the club line. Yes, the hull game protests were embarrassing and the whole NCSU is a waste of time as they are toothless when it really matters, but we really do have a brilliant set of fans who, I feel are an asset to the club.

  8. Stardust says:
    June 3, 2009 at 12:14 pm
    Cant believe I agree with something you’ve wrote Stuart!

    Well it is the silly season……

  9. The fact is Mike – I see what is potentially our greatest strength “the fans” is also potentially at any particular point in time – our greatest weakness.

    Surely you must agree that they must/needed to have learned lessons in this, like Ashley has, you need to consider all facts and all circumstance not just your own agenda before rampaging?

  10. Aye Stardust but I think you’re preaching to the wrong supporters.

    You say about the fans being to blame ect but the idiots who demonstrate are under 16 yrs old and they aren’t on here because they probably don’t know how to turn on a laptop!

    99% of our supporters are great, but like every club we get let down by a minority.

    Having said that I don’t believe the fans have that much of a negative impact.

    When the Glazers bought Man U their fans were protesting in their thousands and even set up another football club!

    Man U then went on to win the league!

    I stick by my opinion that good players make a good team and vice versa!

  11. Stuart 79

    I agree that whoever the owner is he must surround himself with knowledgable football people – especially in the chairmen’s position. As SJH said, he knew nothing about football but Freddie Fletcher had the expertise from being involved with Rangers. MA made a catastrophic decision that set in place the sequence of events and I’m sure led to the over reliance on Dennis Wise’s opinions (as the ‘football man’)as DL had less knowledge about football than MA.

  12. It’s definitely a lottery about who we get as the new owner though.

    We could get someone whose only interest is profit – spend the minimum necessary to get promotion then sell the club.

    We might get someone who’s a football fanatic, Abramovich style (although I think that’s unlikely TBH).

    We might get someone who wants to use the Newcastle United brand for some purpose and will continue building the club to generate more exposure for that brand.

  13. mike ashley has showed every businessman how NOT to run a football club at least we have him to thank for that

  14. Mike

    ‘we are still firmly a local team with strong links to the city and the surrounding communities. This makes us unique and with that comes a unique set of supporters and a unique set of demands. It’s probably why only people who really understand the region have made a decent job of running the club and managing the team’.

    I agree that we have strong links to the city and the surrounding area, but I still don’t believe that makes us unique as there are other cities/towns who are a one club town also ie. Leeds, Stoke, Leicester, Hull etc who I’m sure have a strong level of identity with their club so I don’t see how that makes us a unique set of supporters with unique demands. I know we like to believe that but I don’t think it’s true.

  15. Stardust – In case you’ve not read the e-mails I’ve sent you, I log onto ed’s blog as Micky Toon, so you must know that I’ve never been a supporter of the bed sheet mob, so I will never defend the Hull game protests.
    However, football should be an emotional subject. The best supporters are also the most passionate. All subjectivity often goes out the window when you are at the match. We all know that our players never dive and that every tackle in the box is a penalty to us.
    We want to keep this emotion and not turn into ManU.

    What NUFC needs is someone at the top level who can make decisions without listening to every single little whim us fans have. Instead of sacking a manager the first time his team is boo’ed off the field, go and speak to him to see what can be done. Fans are sometimes right, but most of the time we are probably wrong and in that sense we should not be allowed to dictate the high level decisions that need to be made.

  16. Geordie Deb – Sorry I should have explained better. What I was supposed to say was that we are the biggest club to have such a relationship with the city. Sure smaller clubs from smaller cities, such as Hull may have the same relationship, but as far as status goes we are a bit of an anomaly for the size of the club.

  17. I do not think anyone who would be interested in buying the club would run it the same way as Ashley. The first thing on the list is appoint a new manager and then bring a new chairman who knows about football. I have mentioned David Dein on Ed’s blog and if he is still available i would make him our chairman.

  18. MA will sell in the end and walk away having lost megabucks. Whereas the people that ran this club on his behalf will leave with full pockets (sods !)
    Albeit the guy is a Plonker I feel his initial intentions were right and just (compared to FFS) it is hard to fathom how somebody that supposedly worked hard to build up his empire could be such a seemingly bad judge of character & capability when appointing personnel for NUFC, apart from Chris Mort IMO.

    We need an owner / consortium that can return us back to the upper echelons of English football and at the very least have us competing for silverware. Success will hopefully, for any potential owner, generate profit if the club is managed efficiently; especially if the cost to buy is at such a bargain basement price (believe that when I see it).

    Worst case scenario, we are bought by an owner / consortium that throw money at us in the hope of instant success and recognition as a show of wealth and stature to the rest of the league / world.

    Chelski are an exception, immediate success so Abramovich stays and ploughs in more money.

    On the other hand; if the likes of say Man City do not have similar success in the short term and compete at the same level as manure, chelski & l’pool I shudder to think how the future will pan out for them. If the owners or their brands do not get the international recognition or exposure expected, will they get bored, jump ship and look to sell ?.
    The club will no doubt be bankrolled to the hilt to finance the expensive superstars others cannot afford in the hope of buying success.
    The bubble will burst one day for one of the high flying clubs and it will be catastrophic.

    At least we have had our warnings over the last few years, can’t get any worse for us.

  19. ESAMIM

    I agree with you regarding Dein… but would people accept him as he’s a ‘cockney’??

  20. geordie deb your wrong aboot stoke pet it has 2 clubs port vale is aboot a mile and a half away from stokes ground

  21. I do not care if Dein is a cockney if he does the job right. People would not be bothered about Llambias if he did his job.

  22. H Bats

    Shows how good my geography is – I thought PortVale was Manchester way -duh!
    I remember you saying you lived in Stoke so I’m sure you’re right regarding supporting the other clubs.
    I just don’t think as supporters we have the monopoly on being unique because we are from a one club city. All our protests at being very loyal etc lets see what happens next season to gates when we’re in the fizzy pop league, although if we have a decent owner and a better team the gates may be ok. What do you think?

  23. DEB like u say it depends what happens in summer but i do think if ur from newcastle u suppoert newcastle i cant think of another city like that

  24. Deb – I’m probably one of the most level headed people to post on Ed’s and now here. However I do really feel we have a unique club here. Whether it’s unique that such a big and prestigious club has managed to win the combined sum of sweet FA for the past 40 years or that we are a local club that has gone one to perform at the highest level in club football,I don’t know. But just about everyone from outside of the reason recognises that we do have something special here. How long that will last will depend on what happens this summer. How many more times will one of Ashley’s moves be “the most important decision in NUFC history”? I’m sick and tired of it.

  25. Stardust,

    you wrote ‘I say with 100% honestly that I believe if he had kept the fans onside we would have had a decent enough season’

    He didn’t know how to though, and quite honestly, both home & away the players were extremely poor – we have been drifting into fan malaise for a few years as everyone slowly got fed up. The protests at the Hull game did not continue for very long after that – the general atmosphere at most games was subdued as it had been for a while …. this is why I think it was not the mob mentality that damaged the team. I concede a better atmosphere might have helped, but no-one felt as if they had anything to get behind – I think we all just got fed up getting behind a poor team both on and off the pitch.

    I think most fans were simply in need of a boost, staring down a long empty tunnel with no light at the end of it. All very depressing really.

    It boils down to Ashley making wrong decisions.

    As for the ‘Cockney Mafia’ thing – that was just an easy thing for people to pick up on. – if they had been competent there would not have been a problem. Chris Mort didn’t get tarred with that brush did he?

  26. Mike (MickyToon), I only hope you’re thinking of contributing? It’ll help keep the viewers tuned-in. I always imagine with the more erudite and sensible posters, you’re right up there in the popularity polls.
    The boys would do well to get you involved.

    Great job so far though fellas.

  27. geordie deb said: “All the ‘cockney’s out’ brigade make us look like a bunch of neanderthals and xenophobics.”.

    You’re quite right but I’d love to know what Mike Ashley was thinking when he saw the “Cockney Mafia Out” signs bobbing around St James’ Park.

    I just find it an amusing concept that there’s a ‘Cockney Mafia’ headed up by ‘Mike Corleone Ashley’ and ‘Sonny Wise’ hell-bent on ruining Geordie football.

    Somebody ought to tell Francis Ford Coppola.

    “It’s not football Sonny, it’s strictly business”

  28. Ive just came back from an afternoons meeting and I am reading the thread and beaming – great discussion and debate. If this is just the start its a great one.

    MT re the comment “But just about everyone from outside of the reason recognises that we do have something special here. ” I disagre – I spend a great deal of time out of the region and most see the fans as, I hate to see this, passionate but moronic. They put 90% of the blame for this at Keegans door.

    Will check the emails now.

  29. I live outside of the region now and I tend to get mixed responses from other football fans about Toon fans.

    Some, sadly, believe everything they read in the press. They think the tiny percentage of moronic fans that the press love to make an example of are representative of all our fans.

    Much to my annoyance, a few have particularly mentioned that we “all think Newcastle has some special ‘right’ to be in the PL”.

    And if I haven’t set fire to them after that they go on to the ‘big club’ debate, which is tiresome and has me thinking about ‘blunt force trauma to the head’, as they say on CSI.

    Others though seem to see through the press portrayals and realise that we’re not much different to other sets of fans who also have their moronic element. Some even think the press give us a particularly hard time.

  30. Hugh de Payen

    I agree. I live outside the region and a lot of people I come into contact with think our fans are deluded and arrogant because of what they read in the press. From NUFC being everyone’s second team now the majority were hoping we were relegated because of the fans’attitudes.

  31. I’ve changed my nick name back to Micky Toon, to save confusion over posting here and on ed’s blog.

    Anyway, I’ve lived outside the region for over ten years now and I think that the majority of proper fans don’t hold any real animosity to us. The problem is the way we are portrayed in the press and we are probably having the same discussion as other clubs fans. All ManU fans are from London and all Toon fans are fickle. It’s mostly a media presented myth that I’m not losing any sleep over. Just who are the best fans in the world? One minute it’s the scousers, the next it’s us. Go figure.