Newcastle United: It Hits The Fan Again

Negative Press Once Again Surrounds St.James’ Park

Joey Barton Badge KissMonday 1st August 2011 was meant to signal one month left on the calendar for Alan Pardew to bolster an NUFC squad. After losing to Leeds United at Elland Road on Sunday (31st July), most of the Toon Army presumed the spending would commence, even if it was at a bare minimum.

Instead, signs of another rock falling from our unsteady cliff hit the footballing world at 3pm, with Newcastle United releasing a statement regarding fan favourite, Joey Barton’s future. After a morning of speculation, NUFC confirmed that the player had been placed on the transfer list and was available on a free. Barton himself responded by tweeting:

Somewhere in those high echelons of NUFC, they have decided I am persona non grata. I am on a free but the honour of wearing those B+W stripes, surpasses that.

One day the board might realise, what the shirt signifies. HONOUR and PRIDE. Thanks for your continued support…

So there we have it, rather than building on a squad which lacks depth already, they’ve decided to weaken it. And if we go by Mike Ashley’s past and current transfer spending routines, we’re not going to get many players in between now and the end of August, despite exciting press stories covering our twitter feeds daily.

Mike Ashley


Transfer fee cheques departing NUFC are sparse, despite Derek Llambias stating in January after the sale of Andy Carroll:

I can promise supporters, all of the £35m will be given to Alan Pardew to buy players.

I can accept that it costs a lot to sign a player (not just the transfer fee), there are agent fees, signing on fees, wages and additional clauses which all have to be taken into account. But we are losing the spine to our team by selling players such as Kevin Nolan, Joey Barton and Andy Carroll without replacing them. We have signed Demba Ba, Yohan Cabaye, Sylvain Marveaux you will be saying but two of them are injury prone and also come with high wages and signing on fees. Yohan Cabaye is the kind of player we should be bringing in to add to a spine and create depth in the squad, he shouldn’t be a replacement player.

Regarding wages at the club, one of the biggest shocks looking down the wage bill is that Alan Smith pops up at the summit. Therefore I am baffled why anyone thinks its good for our club leaders (Nolan and Barton) to go to reduce the bill. Ashely has got rid of our best players and replaced them with injury prone players with equally high, possibly higher wages.

So to conclude quite simply on transfers, if Ashley doesn’t bring in a few new faces before the end of the summer, we will obviously be playing with a weaker team to last season (when other teams are improving), this also coincides with Ashley’s ‘remove anyone who opposes me tactics‘:

  • Chris Hughton – Replaced by Alan Pardew.
  • Level 7 removed – Anti-Ashley chants removed.
  • Kevin Nolan – Sold to West Ham.
  • Joey Barton – Effectively sacked.
  • Jose Enrique – Very likely to leave.

It doesn’t show any ambition or willingness to succeed as a club. It feels as if he’s rolling on steadily removing anyone who gets in his way. Even if Barton has gone for money, we’ve still lost a talent and an asset, who most likely won’t be replaced.

Bad Morale in the Dressing Room

You’re a Newcastle United player, you’ve been at the club for a few years having fought for promotion back into the Premier League and survived your first season or you are a new face in the squad having signed or recently joined from the academy. Your team mates who stand at the top of the team food chain, who have effectively lead the team through recent hard times, back to a hope of stability are leaving because of a lack of ambition, they haven’t been offered a contract they feel worthy of, or they’ve had altercations with the board. Would you feel motivated to play for NUFC?

What is left in the team spirit if the players who provide it (as well as being mentors to the less experienced players) leave!?!

I must stress that I understand there are comings and goings at football clubs all the time but our goings seem to be our key players. By the end of the transfer window we may have lost four of our most vital players since January. It may happen on the odd occasion that an important first team players leaves a club but four times within 12 months really does suggest Mike Ashley is either stripping the club for assets or is running it on the cheap, removing people who oppose. The process continues until he makes enough money and sells us to the next ‘businessman’. Will this lead to yet more players wanting out? Leaving our club’s unstable roster further depleated?

The longer this goes on the more unappealing NUFC becomes to NUFC transfer targets, leaving us in a vicious circle, with the conclusion being the squad continuously decreasing in quality and depth.

What is a club in any case? It’s the noise, the passion, the feeling of belonging, the pride in your city

- Sir Bobby Robson

Footballers who care for the cities arms are included in this but Newcastle United supporters, who have been there all the while, are the ones who are hurt and feel the reperussions of Mike Ashley’s actions the most. This club is a passion, a way of life.

You could write books delving into Mike Ashley’s financial strategy for Newcastle United and how he’s running and destroying our club. The fans can’t do anything, there is only one real big hitter available to push him out – not turning up to games and refrain from spending money on NUFC merchandise . All the NUFC fans worldwide won’t all agree to stop pumping money into Ashley’s wallet, therefore making the revolt pointless. People have suggested protests,  what does that achieve? We should buy the club from him is another common one, try finding the money to buy and run it, whilst meeting expectations of all the fans who are putting their money in.

There is literally nothing we can do, apart from wait until the club is sucked dry and ‘asset-less’, when  we’ll be sold  to another dodgy dealer (who probably doesn’t do all their homework on the club’s finances and takes on more debt than they realise).

We aren’t a Champions League club anymore we all accept that but please, what can a Geordie lad do to gain his hometown club some stability?

There is more to this problem than Joey Barton leaving, it is much bigger and I fear it’s only going to get worse.

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About the Author: Josh Hannen

At the moment I find myself away from my home town Newcastle, getting a good education (not saying I wouldn't get a good one in Newcastle, it's just how things have worked out!), however my love for Newcastle United Football Club hasn't decreased in the slightest! At the age of 15 I have started my NUFC Blog, because I wish to venture into Journalism in the future, and also to write down my views on NUFC for everyone to read, discuss and comment on! I shall be writing here for The NUFC Blog as well! I follow NUFC through and through! Howay The Lads! Find me on Twitter - @JoshHannen

10 Comments + Add Comment

  • It was once stated about Mike Ashley that he likes to “park his tanks on the lawns of his opponents”.
    Methinks that if he continues the way he is doing by upsetting all and sundry at Newcastle, the man may well have to lock the hatches and stay in that tank for his own safety.

    Surely the best things for ALL parties would be for Ashley to sell up, even at a loss.

  • what a mess,how can we as fans change things??. please please please ,dont buy a season ticket,cash is all that fatty understands,why give him it.Its on tv,its on internet and radio,so why not make a stand for a season,hawee lads and lasses, MAKE A STAND

  • A wholly unenlightening piece, punctuated throughout by a pseudo-sympathetic take on the financial strategy of Mike Ashley.

  • I get up at 6.30am go off to work and get back at 7.00pm to see the kids off to bed and for this i get 40K of real world money. Barton/Nolan earn this is 3 or 4 days! They live in a different reality egged on by agents (who profit from turmoil).

    I thought the objective of a player was to try and run his contract down so he could leave on a free and pocket the transfer fee for himself. Newcastle have said this is ok for Barton. So if Barton was sensible he would nuckle down, play another season and then have all options open to him. Pardew has been supportive and indeed praised Barton only a few days ago so he really was still in the managers plans for the season.

    Before the friendly match with Leeds Pardew decides one of the new signing will take the corners. Barton throws his toys in the corner and after the match tweets to slag off the owners. He claims to be a victim (but omits to tell us about his behaviour in the changing room),

    Pardew know understands that whilst Joey is a great footballer there is no way he can act as a team player and help the new signings. Hence the right call to tell him to leave on a free.

    Anyone who thinks newcastle have lost money is deluded. In my opinion no club will sign Joey on more than a 12 month rolling contract because there is a real danger he could cause disharmony.

    Regarding our other players: Nolan had an existing 2 year contract to run at Newcastle, Most fans appreciate what Nolan has done for the club but we also see he is slow and unlikely to get a regular place in the future. Nolan has gone for more money and for a 5-year contract to a championship club. West Ham are nuts and frankly all it does is put money into underserving players pockets (Nolan look in the mirror and truthfully tell us what you will contribute in 5 years time?). Nolan is upset that Newcastle didn’t give him a long term contract – why should the club do this when in truth Nolan knows his contribution on the pitch is already getting smaller.

    Finally our fantastic left back Jose. He is a great player and has only made one dumb comment. The club offered him a long term contract on the same money. He was offended and stated ‘they didn’t offer me any more’ well sorry Jose but if you look at the contract in terms of [number of weeks * salary] you will see it is a large financial commitment by the club.

    It appears that Barton, Nolan and even Jose feel they are the victims. Look at the money they are making. The truth is there are only 32 clubs in Europe who regularly play Champions League and another 100 clubs trying to join them. After that there is no reason why any club (including Newcastle) should pay any player more than 10k per week (thats half a million a year). This will eventually happen because frankly they have no special unique skills – we can plau a lower league American club and get beat or Leeds etc. The game is actually about how effective the team is rather than individuals.
    Rant over

  • Thanks for the comment John, constructive criticsm is always useful.

  • I echo a lot of what you’ve said Sam. But you have to remember unfortunately, football is a different world now a days. Whilst Billionaires are involved, it will stay this way. Thanks for the comment!

  • Reducing club income is the only way we can be heard, but then again you wonder whether Ashley can afford to run the club with TV rights. I’m pressuming 50,000 tickets at an average of £20 odd, tots up to a fair bit. The only questionn to the fans is, who is going to begin the stand?

  • We can only dream, he’ll make up for his £millions and leave in my opinion, he doesn’t care.

  • There is a strong case for the anti Ashley group. But lets remember those enlightened owners of Man U and Villa and Lpool etc who have loaded hundreds of millions of pounds of debts on their club. Please name me a few owners who truly love the club before finance – i can think of Blackburn’s Jack Walker and Wolves old owner. So Mike’s motives are generally the same as everyone elses.

    Ashley’s job is to spend wisely to create a team that (a) avoids relegation (becasue he loses money) and (b) climbs up the table (allowiing him to market and sell the club). On that basis I support the replacement of Houghton with Pardew. What I don’t understand myself is why he doesn’t support Pardew. Pardew’s comments about the Caroll sale now make him look like a fool. By not supporting Pardew then Ashley is creating a credibility problem. This lack of credibility makes it less likely that Pardew will suceed (costing Askley lost revenue) – if Pardew walked then Ashley would have a serious problem.

    Pardew stated he wanted more pace and quicker passing in the team. I think this is spot on. The Carroll/Barton/Nolan combination was effective but lets be honest it was hardly classy football. Once Caroll was sold then frankly Nolan was immediately less effective.

    Back to these tosser players. Barton is a weak insecure person who cannot understand other peoples perspectives. Remember the drunk who swore at him – Barton could have thought he’s a drunk so I’ll leave hime alone – but no he punched the kid 22 times because in Barton’s twisted mind the kid deserved it. This latest mess all kicked off with Barton demanding a 3-year contract and the club counter offering 2-years – after an impasse the club removed the 2-year offer and invited Joey to run his contract down and leave on a free. In Joey’s twisted mind this is a huge insult – despite the fact it is what all other players are trying to achieve. This is what Sole Cambell did at Spurs and its what Arsenal fans are worried about with Nasri. If Barton was less insecure and able to see the whole picture he would have seen he was on to a winner – but no egged on by his agend Willy McFool the stupid Barton felt deeply wronged.

    So Joey will now leave – he will miss the fans who adore him (because he really needs this). But hey Willy McFool will get another nice slice of cake- please stand up Willy the only winner in this sad soad opera.

    When players get a little older it is always hard. Remember Kegan, Lineker, Shearer, Owen etc losing their England places. They were all relatively well balanced people and they couldn’t handle it. Whatever problem Joey has at Newcastle I can assure you Joey if you read this that you will face the same problem at another club – but at the new club the fans will not love you like we did. So Newcastle and Joey lose but McFool is the clear winner.

  • and look at where you guys are now….still blaming Ashley? Try being in Liverpool’s shoes. THeir transition takes them over 20 years and they are still backpeddling at 8th. While they haven’t been relegated, the amount of $ they’ve spent compared to Newcastle means they should at least be top 4 year in year out. Instead, they have been flirting along Europe qualification and at times, not even close enough. Good job Newcastle and Ashley.

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