THRU BLACK & WHITE EYES – Breathe – 23/Feb/14

by • February 23, 2014 • TBAWEComments (24)1243

I don’t think much of the preceding 70-odd minutes will linger long in the memory of the Remyvilla50K+ crowd at SJP for the Villa game but the relief around the stands, on the pitch and in the dug-out might just as Remy headed for the Strawberry Corner to celebrate in the dying moments of the game with team-mates and fans alike, might just. We’d endured a largely turgid afternoon with several players having their commitment questioned by those around me and the post-Cabaye malaise looked very much like it was going to inflict another horrible day on us all. I’d felt that had Lambert showed even a modicum of ambition and went for our throat in the first 10-15 mins of the second half, the game would have been very much up for us and I don’t doubt a largely muted home crowd would have turned on the team and manager. We were there for the taking. That Agbonlahor had had the run of the midfield where there remains a massive Yohan Cabaye shaped hole for us won’t have been missed by watching analysts from other clubs and I expect we’ll struggle here for the rest of the season. To no-one’s great surprise there was no sign of Hatem Ben Arfa and although there is justified questioning of how Pardew is nurturing our talented players (i.e. Sissoko, Cisse, Marveaux) I do think the minimum to be expected from any professional footballer is that they train hard and look after their condition. For all of his talent, HBA looks a good stone overweight to my eye. This is a professional athlete?

Now on 40pts and up to 8th as I write this there are many who would look at our situation and wonder what all of the fuss is about. By and large the clubs above us in the PL are either bigger than us with much greater resources (Man Utd, Liverpool and Arsenal) or they are the beneficiaries of financial doping (Man City and Chelsea) or they are Spurs and Everton who at this point in time have greater ambition and / or better management. Isn’t this, as one lad I spoke to today asserted, where we should be in the pecking order. He has a point. Being 8th in the PL is not a crisis. When I think of where we have been in my lifetime of following United, its nowhere near the depressing shambles we were in during the late 70s (Rafferty, Shinton, Clarke et al (shudder)) and the unlamented McGarry/Cox era of six seasons in the Second Division. Seeing Waddle, Beardsley and Gascoigne sold off in the eighties broke our hearts. That period between Play-Off defeat to the Mackems in 1990 and the arrival of KK in ’92 was equally as desperate too. That Portsmouth game at SJP in ’92, David Kelly and all that evokes the memories but let’s not forget, we were staring down the barrel of relegation to the Third Division. This is not a terrible position for the club to be in.

But the thing is, it feels really bad. We know Ashley has no feel for the club, no love, no dreams and increasingly no interest it would seem given his lack of presence on match-days. When Pardew hints at being terrified to requalify for the Europa League, our only realistic target in the PL, we know there is something not right, though criticism of its format is justified. When we hear John Irving, unabashedly informing supporters, the cup competitions are not a priority and bracketing the club with the likes of Wigan and Birmingham, we know something is really amiss at St James’ Park.

I would really like the club to change hands but I don’t see the departure of Ashley as an end in itself. Mike Ashley Out? That’s great, who is coming in?

Ashley has become a demon in the eyes of many who follow the club. I’ve done my fair share of demonising the man as well. I believe he is ungracious, arrogant, ignorant and bitter. He is also wholly unaccountable to supporters and the seven years he has been at the club have been an ordeal.

I don’t think he’s the worst owner there is and I don’t believe he’s the worst owner we’ve had. I reserve that (dis)honour for the previous incumbents, Hall and Shepherd who loaded debt onto the club, tookk millions out for themselves, made it unsustainable and had it not been for the arrival of Ashley with his deep pockets, its highly likely the club would have headed for financial meltdown a la Leeds, Rangers, Portsmouth. Whatever his faults, Ashley has arrested the growth of the club’s debts and made the club sustainable. He may not have intended to invest so much money in keeping the club afloat but the facts are the facts. He has done some good.

But the atmosphere is so sour around United right now, the lack of attention to critical areas of the club’s operations so deep-rooted, every supporter is right to be concerned about the future.

The club has lost its soul, it appears to have no direction beyond staying in the PL and raking the TV money in so Ashley can claw back the dough he was forced to put in to keep the whole thing afloat. There is no corporate strategy to grow the club’s income or raise its global profile. Indeed, it has no board of directors beyond John Irving and Lee Charnley. There is no Director of Football, no-one who it would seem calls the shots. No-one to drag those responsible for United’s failure to meet the Cat. 1 standard for the EPPP in and kick them up the arse!. No-one to appoint a replacement for Willie Donachie, our recently departed Reserve Team coach! I worry who will be charged to conduct the substantial rebuilding required this summer. Who will negotiate, who will judge, who will decide?

For Ashley, he seems to show United all the love of a broken toy.

We can shout all we want about wanting Ashley out and all the rest of it but are we even sure what the Newcastle United we all want even looks like?

I’m pretty sure nothing would give our support a bigger collective hard-on than if we were to become the subject of a takeover by someone in the shape of Sheik Mansour as per Man City. For all of my po-faced wishy-washy socialism, I think I’d sit on my Gallowgate End pew wetting myself at the great team on show and the hunt for honours we were engaged in. But really, this kind of financial doping is all wrong. It has to be stopped. If it were, we would instantly become stronger as I will insist Newcastle United is a stronger football institution than Man City or Chelsea. But in the current format, Ashley cannot compete financially with Sheiks and Oligarchs. Neither can we with or without Ashley, compete with the resources of Man Utd, Liverpool and Arsenal!

To be honest, I’m not really bothered about who we can and can’t compete with. I just want us to be the best we can possibly be and to compete as far as we can. I think we should be attempting to scrape every penny we possibly can via sponsorship and all the rest of it and that money should be reinvested in the club – academy, signings, stadium and all the rest of it. I’d like the club to be more than a billboard for Mike Ashley’s business interests, I’d like the club to engage more effectively with supporters and I don’t mean half-baked Fans Forums and I’d like the Academy and the Foundation to improve what they do by about 10K% than what they are now. I’d like the club to be owned in full or in part by the supporters. The German model looks pretty attractive to me. If that means the limit of what we can be is 8th or 9th in the PL then so be it, that’s what we are but we should always be striving to be better, to do the right things, to be a force for good in the NE and within football more generally.

That’s my aspiration for Newcastle United Football Club but amidst all of the white noise about Ashley Out, calls for season ticket boycotts etc. do we even know what we want rather than what we don’t?


We will likely close the third true faith : READERS SURVEY of the season at the end of this week. Our man Steve Farrell, will cast an eye over the results and he’ll try and make sense of them in the next issue. So, if you haven’t taken part in the survey, take less than a minute to fill this little fella in and do us a favour. Click here.



Yours truly has recently taken up a position on the board of the Newcastle United Supporters Trust. There was no requirement for an election as not enough people contested the available positions. I’m looking forward to getting to work with the board and making my contribution to the growth of the NUST – its membership and its influence within the main body of our support, on Newcastle United and more widely within football. I know a few of the board already but I’m looking forward to getting to know others as well. They all seem like good eggs to me.

Obviously, true faith will stay entirely independent of the NUST. What appears here and elsewhere within true faith is completely separate from the Trust and business will be conducted via the Trust’s own formal lines of communication. If you want to raise issues with the Trust you’ll need to do that via the established lines and not by any informal means with true faith.

If you aren’t a member of the Newcastle United Supporters Trust then you should join. If you want to know more about the Trust just go to: Newcastle United Supporters Trust.

You should know that membership of the Newcastle United Supporters Trust board is unpaid.

All of the advertising and promotion provided to the Newcastle United Supporters Trust via true faith is provided completely and wholly free of charge. Always has been and always will be.

If you don’t believe me, get to next year’s AGM and ask the Treasurer.


Anyway, have a great week and let’s head for Hull in good heart. We owe them.


Keep On, Keepin’ On … TF_INITIALS_LOGO

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24 Responses to THRU BLACK & WHITE EYES – Breathe – 23/Feb/14

  1. Gordon Young says:

    Another gamble pays off, another bet won. 50,000 smiling faces gannin´along.. Pardew dedicates this one to his staff and the fans! Relief Things will change in the summer, trust me. Ashley would look at a 250 M offer.
    I feel pride that 50,000 turned up today but also disbelief. How can it be? Are we mad? Are we the loyalist fans the world has ever seen?
    I agree Ashley is not the worst owner in the PL at the moment but he has done the most damage because he´s been there the longest. What happened to the checks and tests to see if someone was fit to run a club? I can´t think that we would be so unlucky as to get an owner worse than Ashley- we would really have to have bad collective karma!

    Gordon Young

  2. east stand exile says:

    I agree that Shepherd and Hall were a disgrace. They did take plenty of money out. But Ashley has perfected that model. The commercial income has halved since he took over, during an unprecedented PL boom, with the club owned by a sportswear magnate?? Yet NUFC direct / club shops say your contract is with SD, coincidence? It’s over £14m per year less. Per year. Not even Shepherd would have had the neck to try that. Then there’s the 45m transfer surplus over the last 5 years, £35m plus profits in the last 2 ‘official’ results, free adverts etc.
    And Leeds / Portsmouth. Really surprised that TF are pushing that. There’s simply no evidence that NUFC were ever close to that kind of meltdown. A large proportion of our debt was tied into the stadium redevelopment, and the bank had a clause that said they could call in that debt if ownership changed. Shepherd had never missed a payment to my knowledge? His approach was ‘unsustainable’ yes, but there’s no evidence that it was a crisis which couldn’t be fixed. Debt was high, but he could have got us back in the CL and paid off all the debts, or on the other hand he could have got us liquidated by now. Just my opinion, but neither were likely. He would have undoubtedly had to cut back on transfer spending & wages, but as long as we stayed in the PL while he did it (and we were comfortable at the time) there was certainly every chance of reducing debts (helped by the massive growth in TV revenues obviously) over time. There was no imminent sign of a meltdown at all. And Ashley has made us ‘sustainable’? We owe more now than the day Shepherd left, just we owe it all to him, and it never reduces. Despite all that money coming in. Funny sustainability that.

    • Please read the stuff above in the context of previous material published. I don’t think we could have hammered on more about lost commercial revenue etc. By “sustainable” I mean the business is no longer losing money year on year as it was under Shepherd./Hall. Points taken about losses of commercial and other revenue. As for Ashley taking money out of the club, analysis of the accounts as has been published in previous issues of the fanzine, simply does not show that is happening. If you can show – with evidence – how that is happening – I’d be interested in seeing it. Ashley’s biggest crime against United is neglect.

      • east stand exile says:

        Yeah fair play Michael, yourselves at TF have done more than most to highlight the financial ‘questions’, I know that. I suppose it depends on what you define as ‘losing money’, we aren’t making losses, but we are for example losing the commercial revenue (and that £14m doesn’t include infaltion or scope to grow the figure from 06 to now, which lots of clubs have done). Fair point that I can’t show evidence that any other money is leaving the club, just as you can’t show any evidence that it was highly likely that we were going the same way as Pompey / Leeds. We can both have our suspicions though, on my part based on NUFC filing the bare minimum financial info and having a company meshed with holding companies such as St James / MASH holdings etc. and I’m sure some very clever accountants. I am cynical that in a country where Starbucks and Amazon can produce books showing they make no profits in the UK, we don’t necessarily see the whole picture..

  3. STEPHEN says:

    Just over 48,000 is incredible, fantastic (almost 2,000 Villa apparently). Nowhere else would that happen.

    The Mackems laughed at our 31,000 for Cardiff in the Cup and then got 16,000 for a 5th round tie (and one trip to Wembley already in the bag).F..k off you red and white shite………………. anyway back to us and fair’s fair WE don’t get 52,000 and rarely do we actually get over 50,000 Newcastle fans in SJP. Check the attendances and make a fair assessment of the ‘away’ numbers you might be suprised to see that over 50,000 ‘Geordies’ was last only a real done thing back in the Fairs Cup days, barring a few other occasions between 1972 – 1976 domestically.

    46,47.48,49,000 incredible nonetheless.

    • Jezza says:

      QUOTE: “Just over 48,000 is incredible, fantastic (almost 2,000 Villa apparently). Nowhere else would that happen.”

      Yes, just imagine the crowds we’d get if we had a successful team. They wouldn’t be able to build a stadium big enough.

  4. Gordon Young says:

    I totally agree with East Stand Exile.
    As for taking money out of the club: 11M in the previous accounts, 19M supposedly in these accounts, 20M Cabaye – who will get the interest from that money?
    8M (minimum) a year from free advertising. The club shop deal with SD plus who knows what!

    • Good points. Good questions. Not confirmed the £18m has been paid and doubts that it has. No available evidence just yet to comment upon the Cabaye money. The free advertising is a running sore.

  5. Micky miller says:

    Aye that torturous Hall/Shepherd era…The one that gave us the best,exciting times in living memory…Pair of bastards!

  6. Tom Bates says:

    Hall / Shephard took money out the club but without Halls money I doubt Keegan would have come back and the ground wouldnt be the ground it is today, they might have done a lot of it for their own interests but they took Newcastle to a level that wouldnt have happened under McKeag & co.

  7. Steve P says:

    Whilst I agree that 8th is not a crisis, it’s by far a crisis.
    For me, it’s the way in which we, as supporters all know, that we were (with some astute strengthening and some marginally better tactics, ie, a plan B when plan A doesn’t work etc) capable of so much more. How many teams in the Premier League (outside the top 6) can boast a first 11 made up entirely of internationals?
    Three quality signings in the last 2 summer windows, allied to the panic buys we made last January and we could have still been on the coat tails of Everton and Spurs, and Cabaye might still have been with us too!

  8. Greeny's Guitar says:

    For my sins and gullibility I always consider John Hall and Shepherd as separate entities.
    Hall was the one with vision it was he and only he who realised that to avoid the third division the crowds would have to return to SJP and the only way to do that was via a messiah. No one had even thought of Keegan as he languished in Spain playing golf. Everybody thinks it was Keegan who saved us from the third division but really it was John Hall. Regardless of what young Master Martin thinks of him ( and I think a lot of it has to do with politics ) I will forever thank John Hall for getting rid of McKeag et al, appointing KK and the best five years of football I have seen at SJP

    • east stand exile says:

      Yeah good point on John hall, I was assuming Michael was referring to Freddie and Douglas to be honest (I was in my reply). JH made plenty out of nufc, and I suspect he always planned it that way, but it was a mutually beneficial arrangement (at least while he remained interested). I don’t begrudge him some profit, but the guff about how he made sure he was only selling to an owner who would cherish the club sounds a bit hollow now mind..

  9. Alex Hurst says:

    Freddie Shepherd had Newcastle United on the brink of the abyss and that is a FACT. That does not excuse Mike Ashley’s runinng of Newcastle United at all but I would rather have Ashley than Shpeherd. It was not Shepeherd who gave NUFC fans some of the best times, we did that ourselves as all the money came from us and the banks. John Hall is a different matter so I agree with the comment that Shepherd/Hall should be treated as a seperate entity. Then again Hall made millions out of our football club.

    For everyone who says there is no proof we would have turned into Leeds.Portsmouth Rangers – I give you Derby County, Notts Forest, Ipswich Town, Birmignham, Leicster, Bradford, Wolves etc etc – all stable Premier League clubs with sizeable support (albeit smaller than our own) who have been in the football wilderness for years. Once you drop out of the league, it’s difficult to get back in and the past decade has proven that the bigger you are, the harder you fall. I don’t think we would have gone down to Leagues 1 or two, but our (enjoyable) Championship season has hid the reality of what relegation brings to many – years of financial instability and playing catch up.

    Fortunatley we bucked that trend with the money Ashley put into the club (due to a relegation which was of his own making) but I would rather have Newcastle United as it is, than the Newcastle United under Shpeherd we faced going into the 2007/08 season.

    • east stand exile says:

      With respect Alex, just writing FACT isn’t enough. As per my post above, there were several different scenarios as to how things could have panned out, and a meltdown is only one of them. If you have irrefutable evidence then you should share it, obviously. Not sure about the clubs you list, yes they spent years in the wilderness because they were relegated. We were not relegated under shepherd, and were never close really? None of them suffered a meltdown in the style of Leeds / pompey either (eg sale of stadium / training ground, administration, points deducted, fire sale of players at much reduced value etc). They did have to cut their cloth, obviously, but that’s the same for just about all relegated clubs? You are right that Ashley put money in to cover the drop he caused, but that was in the form of additional loans as well!

      • I don’t think TF could have been more specific on how the Hall and Shepherd families took tens of millions out of NUFC by the time they were finished down the years. We had a chance of doing something in the period 92-96 but once the club was floated on the stock-market that was the real start of the dash for cash for Hall and Shepherd. Sir John Hall put very little money into NUFC. Very little indeed. But he took tens of millions out despite a criminal lack of investment in club infrastructure – training ground, academy, scouting etc. The debt was rising all the time yet they took out all kinds of salaries and dividends. That only came much, much later. Remember Hall to trying to flog the club to Hedge Funds? Belgravia and Polygon? Sharks. How do you get from “Geordie Nation” rhetoric to flogging the club to a bloke who can use it to sell cheap trackie bottoms and plaster the ground with advertising. Hall has never raised a murmur of criticism of Ashley.

        • Graeme says:

          Michael. With regards to your point that ‘The debt was rising all the time yet they took out all kinds of salaries and dividends”, you can only take dividends from profits.

          The ground was almost completely re-developed under Hall / Shepherd on the same site, not some brownfield site where a shell can be built at a more modest cost. For a club to have a substantial debt or mortgage having virtually completely re-built their ground is not unreasonable. Ashley chose to repay it, because he had the money to do so and no doubt there were tax breaks for doing so.

          If Hall and Shepherd made a substantial profit on their investment then so be it, They had the foresight to risk some capital at outset, for what turned out to be an excellent return. Thanks to them, I experienced the most exciting period in my forty seven years of watching Newcastle. For that I’ll always be grateful.

    • Tom Pitt says:

      It always amazes me that John Hall is absolved of most of the blame for the excesses of the era while Shepherd was chairman. Hall was always the majority shareholder at that time,does anyone seriously believe that he wasnt party to all that went on?
      Incredibly naive to think that IMHO.
      Hall saw a great oppertunity at NUFC and grabbed it with big,greedy hands!
      We benefitted too as a result and did enjoy some great times but only until they floated the club to make the big killing they wanted all along.
      From that moment on,it was a downward spiral which has brought us to the state we are in now.
      None of the Halls,Shepherd or Ashley are blameless.

  10. Micky miller says:

    So what if they feathered their nests to excess, the average fan couldn’t give a toss about the balance sheet as long as they have a team to support on a Saturday. Give me the Hall/Shepherd era any day over the dark terminal cancer that is currently killing our club..

  11. Johnny Bain says:

    I live up in Berwick .During the John Hall era I would travel down at 5am to line up to buy tickets on a Thursday morning to get to the match on aSaturday.Last week I was offered free of charge a ticket for the Villa match.Iturned it down!I will not be back until Ashley has gone!

  12. Micheal, my dad took me to my first Newcastle match aged 7 in 1972. I have vague recollections of my mother dressing me in my brown sheepskin coat to keep out the cold and being bowled, along with my older brother, over the heads of those in the old ‘popular’ stand until I reached the front where a complete stranger positioned us where we could see the game. As a father of an 11 year old it’s hard to believe my dad would take a 9 year old and his slightly elder brother to the ground and simply leave us there with an arranged meeting place after the game but that’s what he used to do . At 9 years old I sat with my legs beneath the advertising hoardings at the front of the West stand paddock and watched as what seemed like the entire Leazes end emptied onto the pitch in the Forest quarter final cup match. The Leazes end. A place where my father had strictly forbidden us to go but after that day, it was the only place my older brother wanted to be. And so, despite my tender years and tiny frame, that’s where we headed as soon as my dads’ back was turned and he headed for a pint. Later that year I was in that huge packed terrace to watch us beat Burnley 2-1 in the Texaco cup, little did I know it would be the only time I’d actually see the players parade a trophy round the pitch. Quite often I struggled to see anything, I did manage to see Johnny Rep’s incredible goal as it flew into the top corner but as it’s so long ago now, a lot of my memories are a bit hazy. One memory that is very clear to me though is the protests against Lord Westwood if only because as a small child I was always amused when the chant of “Westwood is a pirate” went up. Years later I stood at Blackpool watching us lose a first leg league cup game and spend almost the entire game chanting “sack the board” and various other chants aimed at Fat Stan Seymour. I’ve witnessed and participated in ‘sit ins’, pitch invasions and even violent protests right from being a small child in the Leazes end up until the eventual removal of Gordon McKeag. My point ? If there’s one thing I hate more than Mike Ashley it’s the dawn of the ‘uber’ Newcastle fan. You know the ones, those that go on various message boards sneering at those who ‘moan’ or ‘whinge’ about how the club is being run now. They appear to love the demise of the club as it gives them the perfect opportunity to preen themselves that they’re the bestest fans on the planet, the irony being that had they being going long enough there’s a good chance the pious wankers would’ve , like me, witnessed or taken part in protests against various board members over the years. These protests are not exclusive to NUFC, however much the southern press would like to portray us as ‘deluded’ or “overly expectant”. Fans of all clubs will protest if they feel their club is not being run properly or they want change, it’s what football fans do.
    Of course Micheal, I accept that not everyone wants change. It’s reasonable for people to conclude that as you state the Halls and Shepherd were the ‘worst’ owners ever that you’d prefer for the takeover never to have happened ? Before SJH took over we were heading for the old third division. Two years later we had qualified for the UEFA cup finishing 3rd in the premier league. In the same two year time frame, Mike Ashley had managed to get an established (though admittedly in decline) premier league club relegated to the championship. Worse than Mike Ashley ? Sorry, I’m just not seeing this yet. When the’ worst owners ever’ got involved we were playing in a dilapidated stadium with a capacity of 29000. Eight years later and the stadium had been rebuilt to the second largest (at the time) in England with a 52500 capacity and a reported 15000 waiting list for season tickets. In the same time frame Mike Ashley has managed to maintain the attendences by offering matchday tickets at token prices. My wife could’ve taken our son on Sunday for the sum of 15 quid the pair of them. “Affordable football” replaces exciting football, how inspiring. Within four years of the ‘worst owners ever’ taking over, Newcastle were challenging for the premier league title and attracting the best players in the world to Tyneside. Within four years of taking over Mike Ashley was sending his chief scout to the poorly paid French league to tempt players to Tyneside in the hope he’d make a profit on sell ons and a promise to the players that if they were any good, a top club would come in for them.
    I should say by the way that I was as ready as anyone to see the back of fat Fred but I grew weary very early on that he was carrying the can for everyone of fat Mike’s fuck ups. Relegation ? It was in the post from fat Fred they said. Speculation. As is “we were about to do a Leeds/Portsmouth” etc. Here’s a fact. Only nine English clubs have qualified for the champions league group stages. Only six have ever done it more than once. We came within a shitty home leg result of doing it three times – all under fat Fred. There’s no doubt he gambled on keeping us or getting us to return there and a couple of his managerial appointments were terrible (and that’s without the benefit of hindsight) but for all his faults, I’m absolutely certain he’d have loved us to have been successful. He had plans to extend SJP to 60,000, no chance of that happening now is there ? SJH (in)famously once said that “the cups are for losers”. His opinion being that the cups were consolation prizes for teams unable to win the league and he set about making the league a priority. Mike Ashley also thinks the cups are for losers, his ambition though is to finish just inside the top ten.
    It seems to me that there is a fair old percentage of Newcastle fans happy to believe the suggestion that fat Fred left us on the brink and poor old Mike knew nothing of the clubs’ debt and was forced (bless him) to “pour millions” of pounds into the club just to save it from administration. As my granny used to say when she found something hard to believe.…”wheeey aye”. The chances are we’ll never know the truth of it but I’ve long since speculated that there was a very deliberate policy of maintaining the clubs’ ‘debt’ for tax reasons. If not, why has none of it been paid off ? The amount of money that fat bastard has syphoned from the club, plus the transfer profits plus tv money would I believe more than taken care of the interest and loan incurred. “Saved us” ? Erm, not for me. Here’s a prediction for you Micheal, the ‘interest free’ loan is going to come with a huge price when he goes. Hate the ‘worst owners ever’ for the finances of the club when they left ? My God man, it’s nothing compared to the mess this guy will leave us in and it’s so depressingly easy to predict.
    Far worse than anyone before him, including Westwood, McKeag etc is Mike Ashley. I could list all the things I hate him for but what I find utterly repulsive is the appointment and subsequent sacking of Joe Kinnear. Here is an elderly man with a rumoured drink problem and accepted heart condition who for all intents and purposes was hired as nothing more than the man to abuse when things weren’t going right. What if he’d died ? I don’t think there’d have been many tears shed, certainly not from me but taking personalities aside, what kind of person uses people like that ? “Dispensable” was a word Gareth Harrison used on this site a couple of weeks ago and for me, it’s a perfect though utterly depressing description of how Mike Ashley uses Newcastle United and those that support it and work for it.
    However, Sir John was a tory from Ashington and therefore worst owner ever.

  13. Bob says:

    I seem to recall Shepherd and Hall taking dividends even when the club made losses. In addition of course to their huge salaries which I believe were around half a million.It just adds to the overall debt. Banks find it easy to give huge bonuses even in loss making years!

    As for Ashley, I can’t believe that a businessman like him didn’t know about the debt. How many football clubs don’t have a debt? Surely he would at least have asked a few simple questions or had a quick look at a set of accounts or even just the balance sheet. He must have checked shareholding to know who to give cheques to. When it is said he didn’t do “due diligence” maybe he just didn’t do a full investigative audit.

    • Graeme says:

      Without wishing to split hairs, Hall & Shepherd could only have taken dividends from profits, or retained profits from earlier years.

      As for due diligence. Chris Mort is a partner in one of the largest law firms in the world. I simply don’t believe that MA or his advisers wouldn’t have carried out some due diligence.

      I can’t see a buyer coming along to purchase the club from MA, but I do believe that a co-operative would work where 40,000 individuals could each acquire a ‘lifetime’ share in the club for say £5,000 and in return they would qualify for a 10% discount on season tickets and merchandise etc. A proper management structure using an experienced executive management team could be recruited and the club run in an open and transparent manner with published accounts and an elected board. With the right commercial team in place and rid of the SD logos and advertising, the club could generate some healthy commercial revenue once again, 50,000 gate money plus TV revenue and it should be possible to run it on a level financial footing with a competitive first team.

  14. Bob the vast majority of the debt was mortgage for the stadium, like you say, how hard would it be to find that information?!