“Newcastle fans, following my Football Focus interview, plenty of you tweeting me saying you don’t blame me for getting injured but for leaving when we got relegated.”
“Despite the club saying they did, they didn’t ever offer me a new contract despite them putting it in the press that they did. How could they when they had just been relegated? It would have been financial suicide. I’ve seen it a million times, a club will blatantly lie to their fans to take the moral high ground leaving the player with no leg to stand on. I’ve taken the stick for years which is fine but you really don’t know half of it. All will be revealed one day.”
Tweeted Michael Owen on his final season at Newcastle United. Then however, he backtracked somewhat, updating his Twitter with the following:
“Just to clarify. My tweet yesterday referred to no contract offer after Newcastle relegation. Which I said was understandable. Newcastle did make me an offer to extend in 2008 when Joe Kinnear was manager. Apologies to the club if there has been any confusion. I just didn’t want the fans to think I had deserted the club after relegation. I didn’t.”
Of course, there was never really a question over whether the club actually offered Owen a new contract once the relegation of the club in that season was a reality. As Owen said himself in his first series of tweets, it would have been “financial suicide,” unless, of course, he was offered a deal so low that Owen and his representatives would never have accepted it in a million years. After all, Michael’s price for the humiliation of playing Championship football at that time would have been higher, not lower, much like the price our recent Europa League opponents had to pay the likes of Samuel Eto’o and Willian to play in Dagestan. Nonetheless, I did a little backtracking of my own to remind myself what the club did say to the media about offering the Wirral Whippet a new deal at the club. I was curious as none of the so called journalists who reported Owen’s comments with such fervour seemed to bother actually checking what was said by Newcastle United’s representatives in the past about Owen’s contract renewal.
As you might expect, it was Newcastle United’s Managing Director, Derek Llambias, who was the one to speak on the issue; and it was much as I recalled from the time. Though he may not have said that he offered Owen a contract after the side were relegated, he did say in February 2009 a new contract offer was made in the previous year (the one mentioned by Owen), and also that they were going to sit down “soon” and thrash something out one way or the other. On this Llambias said in an interview:
“We offered Michael a new contract and he has chosen to walk away and think about his future. It’s not on the table any more after January 1. But we’ll be sitting down with him again soon and seeing what he wants to do. It’s difficult – he’s a goalscorer who has 10 already this season in the games he’s played.
“It’s down to Michael.
“He’s done his term here, and it was lucrative, but he’s decided he wants to wait until the end of the season. So it’s a case of watch this space.”
As Owen has now confirmed himself, that didn’t happen, and Owen’s representatives made a very nice glossy brochure (dated 3rd Jume 2009) in an attempt to sell Michael’s wares to other Premiership clubs. Almost exactly a month after that brochure was distributed to a select group of Premiership clubs, he received an invitiation to breakfast “out of the blue” (Owen’s words) from Sir Alex Ferguson, where old purple nose told Owen that he wanted to sign him for Manchester United.
Moving on to June 2011 though when Owen had been a Manchester United player for quite some time, Llambias made a bitter riposte in the media to Owen’s comments of the time, where he said that playing less often in a top team like Manchester United was better than playing every game in a poor team like Newcastle United (though he didn’t mention either by name). In response to this Llambias blasted:
“Michael is the most expensive signing Newcastle has ever made and I’m disappointed with his comments. Under Kevin Keegan’s management he was offered a one-year extension at £140,000 a week which he did not take. He was already on £133,000 a week. Quite honestly, what did Newcastle United get out of it? His time here cost £40-odd million, about £1.3m per goal.”
If the £133,000 per week figure was true (which is usually hard to tell with Llambias), the exact sum he was referring to would be £44,464,000.00, which when divided by 30 (the amount of goals Owen scored at the club) would be £1,482,133.33 per goal. These figures been oft quoted by other NUFC blogs as a weapon to beat Owen. However, it is slightly incorrect. This is because Llambias omitted to include the considerable amount Newcastle United received from the FA as compensation for the rather nasty cruciate ligament injury Owen picked up playing for England in the 2006 World Cup. According to an NUFC spokesman in June 2007, this amounted to “around £10 million.”
So, if true, this would mean that Owen cost Newcastle United a grand total of £34,464,000.00 rather than £44,464,000.00, and Owen’s goals would have cost a mere £1,148,800.00 each, not £1,300,000.00. Either way though, at least we can be sure that at the very least, Owen’s goals were still much cheaper than Fernando Torres’s goals have been for Chelsea, or even worse, Andy Carroll’s goals for Liverpool.
Incidentally, in his own response to the same comments from Owen, Llambias’s predecessor as Pantomime villain in the Newcastle United hotseat, “Fat” Freddy Shepherd, also made his own slightly inaccurate calculations on how much Owen cost Newcastle United, though he preferred to do it on a per game basis rather than a per goal basis like our current MD.
Fat Freddy fumed:
“We might have been a poor team, but we made him a rich man. It works out at around £500,000 for every game in a Newcastle shirt. Poor? Well, he wasn’t poorer for it. He spent more time ferrying between Cheshire and Tyneside in his £3.5m helicopter.”
Using the £34,464,000.00 figure above, it would have been more like £436,253.16 per game.
I need to get out more.