Why Newcastle United Are Back!

I discovered Newcastle United back in the late 90’s when the English Premier League was rising and I decided that I needed a team. Around this time my brother-in-law and family were coming to visit us in Australia and he told me that he was a Geordie supporter and that maybe I should become one as well.

I never really understood football (soccer as we call it in Australia) and found the game a bit boring, especially when you compare it to Australian Rules Football. But as he explained that Newcastle are the Magpies (my local South Australian AFL team is also the Magpies) I thought I would give it a go. So started my passion for Newcastle and my development of a love for EPL and football in general.

Newcastle

Since I became a supporter Newcastle has been mainly a mid-table side jousting for one of the last positions in Europe each year. Newcastle since the mid-90s has never challenged the top of the table and will struggle to ever win the EPL. But they have sneaked Europe by winning the InterToto Cup one year and another year getting access via being the Fair Play side. There was also relegation a couple of years ago into the Championship that lead to an immediate promotion back into the EPL and a year of consolidation this year.

So, after a very solid year Newcastle are in 6th position and looking likely for a European slot next season. But how has Newcastle been resurrected?

Mike Ashley

In 2007 self made millionaire, owner of Sportsdirect.com and Newcastle fan, Mike Ashley bought the club. He isn’t well liked by all of the fans, but he has settled Newcastle into becoming a stable business off the field and this is now leading to on field success.

For the first time in a long time, Newcastle are in a healthy situation on and off the pitch, challenging for a place in Europe next season and very nearly back in the black.

When he took over, Newcastle had an external debt of £65m. When they were relegated from the Premier League in 2009, their wages to turnover ratio was 83%. That is like earning £20,000 a year and buying a £1m house - an unsustainable situation.

Thanks to a £140m interest-free loan from Ashley, the debt has now been cleared, saving the club a great deal in interest fees in the process. In 2007 and 2008, interest on that debt amounted to about £6.5m a year. Now annual finance costs are £212,000.

Figures released for the year ending June 2011 also show the club's turnover has increased by 69%, from £52.4m to £88.4m.

This revolution in the off field finances has enabled Newcastle to balance the books in the playing side as well. Considering that Newcastle sold Andy Carroll for £35m there has been very little of this spent in the transfer market. While Carroll is overpriced and struggling to perform for Liverpool, Newcastle have banked the profit and used most of the funds to reduce debt.

This has enabled the club to focus on retaining key players such as extending the contracts of Captain Fabricio Coloccini, goalkeeper Tim Krul and Ryan Taylor and investing in new striker Papiss Demba Cisse for £10m in January. The club are also already working on adding to their squad in the summer.

2012-13

To finalise the team, especially in they are successful in getting a place in Europe, the club needs to invest in a couple of mid-field players that can add competition for places as well as increasing the talent pool with more play makers.

Another investment of £10-15m will round out this side.

One thing about Newcastle this year is that they are not a pretty team to watch or play against (they are leaving the pretty stuff to Barcelona!) But they are being effective, using the scant resources that Mike Ashley allows them to use.

With any luck we will see Newcastle have a good league run next season again, and hopefully, a series of strong cup performances both home and abroad that might, just might, lead to some silverware that this club has be starved of in the last 30 years.

Cheers Michael

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Comments 7 comments

chef-de-jour profile image

chef-de-jour 4 years ago from Wakefield, West Yorkshire,UK

Hey charmike. Newcastle Utd are playing the kind of football that had them leading the premiership back in the nineties! Good all round attack with options on the ground, down the flanks and route one if necessary. Ben Arfa is a great creative hub. And they have a solid young dutch keeper. Now what they have to do is maintain consistency, a perennial problem for the Magpies who have tended to go up, down, sideways and down again. I for one hope they sustain their winning ways FOR THIS SEASON at least! The EPL needs the roar of the Geordies week in week out.

Liverpool are floundering in the league at present tis true. Our great club is in transition and in need of an injection of youth, speed and creativity. Once our youngsters come through from the reserves and into the 1st XI - which is happening now - I think we'll regain our league status.


charmike4 profile image

charmike4 4 years ago from Adelaide, South Australia Author

I am really suprised by Liverpool's form this year chef-de-jour, I thought that the off season recruits and the team itself would perform higher this year. Liverpool are the type of team that should be at the top of the premiership, but ManU have really taken that mantle.

There are a lot of Liverpool supporters in Australia, mainly due to Craig Johnston and they are sharing your pain!

Agree that the EPL needs the Geordies, even just for the passion & fanaticism of this one team town!


Martyv25 4 years ago

Hey man, great hub. Newcastle have always been my team I am black and white through and through. I really hope Newcastle are back, hopefully on the form we showed in 2003 when Sir Bobby Robson was in charge and we were in the Champions League. Australian rules football? I have never watched it but have caught glimpses, don't they play with their hands? If so why is it called Football? The same could be said for American Football.

As a fan of Newcastle I really can not argue with what Ashley has done, I just hope we don't become a club that sells it's prize assets every summer. Mike Ashley has turned us into one of the most financially stable clubs in the world but if he wants to build on that he needs to help us in challenging for europe.

Gate recipts and shirt sales are fine but the money is in success, if Newcastle can become a club who can say no to the big spenders then hopefully we will be going places.


charmike4 profile image

charmike4 4 years ago from Adelaide, South Australia Author

Thanks Marty! My home town team - Port Adelaide (in the SANFL & AFL) are black and white - so it runs in my blood as well! While a lot of fans don't like Ashley the financial stability is a welcome and if Newcastle can make it back into Europe this style of governance could become a model for other hopefuls. Smart buying and selling combined with living within your means (as we do when managing our own personal budgets) needs to be the key with some strategic buys like Cisse.

It's going to be great having Newcastle back where they belong in Europe!

Finally, you may want to pick up a copy of Peter Cain & Barry Robertson's book 'Toon Tales' which is a recount of the 2002 Newcastle European campaign. These guys went to all the away games and if I recall rightly we got knocked out in the semi-finals. I'm going to read this book again in preparation for next season! Cheers Michael


charmike4 profile image

charmike4 4 years ago from Adelaide, South Australia Author

Great win by the Toon over Stoke. Champions League looks like a real possibility now (just need Barca to knock out Chelsea from the Champions League on Tuesday)!


Theeyeballkid profile image

Theeyeballkid 4 years ago

Great hub Charmike, great to see a toon fan down there in Auz!!

I'm not a barcodes fan myself, but have huge respect for what they have done this year. When Barton, Carol and Enrique left and Pardew was appointed I thought Newcastle would struggle to be honest but what a season it has turned out to be....and there is still everything to play for!

I think Pardew deserves manager of the year regardless of what happens on Sunday. I just hope you manage to hang on to Ba and Cisse for next season, there will be a lot of clubs going in for them.


charmike4 profile image

charmike4 4 years ago from Adelaide, South Australia Author

The raiding is starting already Theeyeballkid. Tiote has been linked with a move and the owner (Ashby) is keen to make Newcastle a business, so if he can sell high and buy low he will do it. Cisse was a steal at GBP10m, but if we get an Andy Carroll type offer Ashby will sell I fear.

Thanks for your comment and maybe we can convert you into a Toon supporter or at least have us as your 2nd favourite team! Cheers Michael

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