Thursday, March 5, 2009

Ministry of Propaganda up and running

On February 25th Lee Ryder of the Chronicle reported that Derek Llambias had taken part in a fans liaison meeting also attended by members of the NUSC.  The following is a full list of the quotes used by the Chronicle without any contextualisation.
"We want to be solid competitors at the top. That’s the way we’re going. We aim to be knocking on the door again.”
“We’re sorry about the lack of communication, we know we’ve made mistakes. We were guarded to begin with but we’d made the decision to keep a low profile and got it wrong.

“We didn’t realise the backlash of KK, it was so huge and we were waiting for things to calm down. That didn’t happen. But I am more than happy to communicate with you. This is a passionate club and we don’t want to change that. 
We aim to use the local Press and supporters’ panel meetings to keep people informed.”

“We have plans for the club and we are taking it forward. When we took over we had repair work to do and holes to fill. That has been huge step. We didn’t think the club had any foundation, there was a poor Academy and we are now building for the future.

“We’re not neglecting the club. We felt during the transfer window that we needed to add to the squad and we did. We were lacking spirit and we feel that adding Ryan Taylor and Kevin Nolan has addressed that.

“The club has built up a structure for the future. We have a grid that is made up by the manager and it highlights the areas we need to strengthen. We pinpoint a player and then we go out and look at him.”
As a recently joined up member of the NUSC I later received an email which in addition to the above quotes contained several more quotes that the Chronicle had not used (I cannot link to the email, but it has been copied in full here).  I have removed the context as I did with Ryder's article above.
"We're still paying for some of them now, we won’t clear the debt for those players as it will take us until 2011”
“The club makes £100M a year in revenue of which 76% goes on salaries”

“Just print that we paid £250 Million for the club”

“Xisco was Kevin, don’t believe everything you read in the press, Gonzales was a...well, I won’t go into that because we’ve still got legal issues there”

“If you bring Dennis Wise into this room what are you going to get? I just mean he’s not very popular” 

“Pick your top five players this season and you’ll see that they were Dennis’ players. All those players are Dennis’, they’ve been picked...sorry, Dennis has brought them in...with the knowledge of the manager”

“We never wanted to lose Shay, we made that clear from January, whatever the price they offered. They came in with £3M and we politely told them to go away. Somehow Shay got it into his head that he wanted to move on because he wanted to win trophies. City then came in with a £5M bid that we rejected but then ...when a player decides they want to go it’s very, very difficult. We offered Shay a new contract that would take him to the age of 39 but that wasn’t good enough. Maybe we could have matched the contract with City, which we just couldn’t afford”.

“Once they came in with a £5M bid we then looked at their team. We tried for their right back, Michael Johnson, Elano on loan to get the deal that suited NUFC. Unfortunately it was difficult. We got £5.9M plus add-ons, not paid until 1st of July. We asked Man city for £15M thinking they would just go away but they got away cheaply, was it good business on our part? Not really ‘cos we never wanted to lose the player cheaply”

“Our commercial side is important, we’ll be out there from March trying to bring in better sources of revenue. Our revenue on retail is down because the economy is suffering, our revenue on food and beverage, we’re quite happy with that. We’d like to expand our brand and we’ve taken on commercial directors”

“Do we need to spend £200k a year on PR? We did have a PR agency, they’ve just been fired”.

“Let’s make a comparison with the rest of the league, everywhere is down other than the big boys”.

“If we are short 3,500 seats that is reflected everywhere in the North East. People are struggling to pay for tickets

“it would cost more than £12 (per person) in administration to [return the vat on season tickets]”

“All they (those who signed for 3 years) were doing was guaranteeing a frozen price”. 

“If I could tell you the number of top class manager’s banging on my door right now...Top, top”.
It seems that the email has caused some consternation.  Many people have argued that the tone the author adopted was too strong.  Lee Ryder was clearly unhappy with it in a blog piece yesterday.  He had no issue with the quotes used, which he admits were "on the whole accurate", but was clearly irked by the claim that the local journalists arrived with the Managing Director, and at one point nodded in agreement. 

So, in all this mess, we are left discussing the context rather than content.  I've purposely avoided putting my own spin on any of this up until now, because I think the quotes and how they were used in each report paint a clear picture themselves of exactly where the chronicle and NUSC stand.  One is reporting the facts to it's members (perhaps with a bit more passion than some find tasteful), the other is feeding us the propaganda.

Worrying comments made by Llambias that were reported accurately have found their way into the public domain only thanks to the voluntary work being done by the NUSC.  Comments that the Chronicle has failed to report in over a week despite having a paid presence at the same meeting.  I think The Chronicle should take a look at their policy because they've clearly not reported impartially a good deal of what was said by Llambias.

The NUSC was worth the tenner to get this sort of thing in the public domain alone, if the "journalists" at the meeting didn't think the fans would be interested.  

To paraphrase Stephen Colbert, it seems this is how it works Ashley makes the decisions. He's the decider. Llambias announces those decisions, and the people of the press type those decisions down. Make, announce, type. Just put 'em through a spell check and go home.

You can join the NUSC here.