Saturday, March 7, 2020

Media Bans

Media bans occur frequently under Mike Ashley, whether he doesn't like what they write or he wants money off them to have the access to report on the club.  Ashley frequently wants to get a message beyond readers of the club website though and for that he uses his preferred outlets of Sports Direct and Martin Samuel.  Using them, he is always able to make his case unchallenged and knows he'll get airtime or column inches that unquestioningly disseminate his propaganda.

Example's where dissent has led to journalists having access withdrawn:

March 7th, 2020 - Craig Hope
Sportsmail’s Craig Hope has been given a one-week ban by Newcastle after a story this week which revealed details of Allan Saint-Maximin’s disagreement with Steve Bruce over his fitness.
September 10th, 2019 - Media banned from SD AGM
Just been told Sports Direct is banning all media from its AGM tomorrow. Never a good look when a company shuts out journalists. What happened to its “very open” promise in 2016?
June 10th, 2015 - Only Media Partners allowed at Steve McClaren's introduction
Newcastle ban local media from Steve McClaren unveilingNew manager is only allowed to speak to Newcastle United's two 'media partners' with even local paper banned from event
September 19th, 2014 - Luke Edwards and The Telegraph
February 18th, 2014 - Sunday Express
The Club feels it necessary to respond to the article published in the Sunday Express newspaper, headlined 'Pardew's One Game From Sack - Beat Villa or it's the Bullet', and claimed as an 'exclusive' by the paper. The article was written by John Richardson.  Newcastle United can confirm that the Sunday Express is banned with immediate effect

 October 28th, 2013 - The Journal, Chronicle and Sunday Sun
Newcastle United have banned three local newspapers from matches and press conferences in protest at coverage of a recent fans' demonstration against Mike Ashley, the club's owner.
January 20th, 2010 - Sunday Sun
Following an article that appeared as a back page lead in the Sunday Sun on 10 January 2010, healined 'Desert-ers Leave Toon', Newcastle United, having taken exception to the accuracy, tone, inference and content of the article, contacted the Sunday Sun to seek a full page retraction of the said article in the following Sunday's paper (17 January).  The retraction was not forthcoming in the manner requested and as such the Club have banned the Sunday Sun, indefinitley, from St. James' Park and the Training Ground.
March 25th, 2009 - Alan Oliver
Newcastle, a club in turmoil on and off the pitch, have surpassed themselves by banning journalist Alan Oliver from St James’ Park just days after he received a lifetime achievement award for the dignified way he devoted a career to covering the team for the Newcastle Evening Chronicle for more than 30 years. 
The highly respected Oliver, now a pensioner working for a Sunday newspaper, was the co-author of a story speculating on sidelined manager Joe Kinnear’s health — a fair subject on Tyneside — which upset the board. 
Their ridiculous over-the-top reaction against a newspaperman who has written more positive paragraphs about the football club than anyone says everything about the buffoons running Newcastle. 
March 22nd, 2009 -  Dave Kidd
I was banned after a People Sport story which claimed the manager [Kinnear] had suffered a health setback.

Friday, November 29, 2019

Communication

Since Ashley arrived, the NUFC heirarchy has pivoted back and forth between apologies for lack of communication, promises of making improvements in how they communicate, excuses as to why they have not or will not communicate and blunt refusals to comment on anything as a matter of policy.

It is a requirement placed upon every Premier League club that they communicate with fans.  In addition to naming a Supporter Liaison Officer that supporters can contact, the club should also:
"provide for consultation with them on a structured and regular basis through forums, questionairres and focus groups and by the publication of current policies on major issues in an easily digested format" - Source
Newcastle United have frequently failed to hit their own target of hosting a quarterly Fans Forum.  The latest forum minutes are archived here.

November 2019
After 14 months without a fans forum or any information why the delay, the club announced a new approach.

Newcastle United is introducing new Fan Focus Groups which will give supporters an opportunity to have their say on the club’s operations and future planning. Part of a wider review of communications, the groups will partly replace the club’s existing Fans Forum, which was introduced in 2013, and will be dedicated to four key areas of the club’s operations – Ticketing, Stadium & Matchday Experience, Community & Foundation and the club’s inclusion equality movement, United As One.  
Each of the four groups will have two meetings per season (eight Fan Focus Groups in total per season). They will be attended by the club’s relevant heads of department and may feature representatives from associated organisations. We want to make it easy for fans to follow what their fellow supporters have raised and how the club is responding. Once meetings have taken place, feedback will be captured in an online Action Tracker, which will detail the issue raised, the club’s response and if the matter is on-going or concluded.
The club’s managing director, Lee Charnley, has made a commitment to meeting the chairperson of existing democratically elected supporter groups including Newcastle United Supporters Trust (NUST) and Newcastle United Disabled Supporters Association (NUDSA) during the season. These meetings will be an opportunity to listen to independent feedback and work together for the benefit of Newcastle United and its supporters. Informal in nature, these meetings will not be formally captured in meeting minutes as the Fans Forum has been, but may conclude with a mutually agreed communication where appropriate. 
The club is supporting its fan engagement efforts with a fresh commitment to wider supporter communication, building on recent national and local media interviews with the club’s owner, managing director, head coach, players and staff, as well as matchday programme notes. Going forward, fans will hear more from across the club through both the wider media and the club’s own channels, including the club’s website, NUFC TV, social media accounts and by direct email.

August 2019
Lee Charnley Chronicle interview following the opening game of the season which was the target of a supporter boycott
"We accept we need to communicate more.  Will I do it in every programme? No.  But as a minimum I will do it at the end of each window and at the end of the season.  This is just one element though of our commitment to communicate more regularly.  "Improved communication is something we have been discussing with our Fans Forum for some time and something we are committed to.  That will involve the Fans Forum, me doing some interviews with the local press and other media outlets/channels. But it will also involve other members of the team. - Source
Lee Charnley Programme notes for the first game of the season which was the target of a supporter boycott
“We want to communicate clearly and proactively, but it is important that we do so at the right time.  Sometimes we must adopt a ‘no comment’ policy and I accept that can be – and has been – frustrating.  There are reasons behind that approach.  Often, there are legalities at play or we may take the decision in order to respect the integrity of a process or the individuals involved.  What we won’t do is fuel speculation by offering a running commentary.  Instead, when we have something definitive to say, we will say it, as we did as soon as Rafa’s position became clear.
“Whilst I have stated above that I felt our approach during the summer was necessary, I accept we need to do more from a communication perspective moving forward.  There is certainly a need to communicate more as a club and to let fans know where we are heading collectively.  That goes beyond the responsibility of just the head coach or manager in isolation; something we have relied on far too heavily in the past.  We want to give you more of an insight into what happens across the club and you will therefore be hearing more from me, as you are today, and from our staff across the football club and Foundation over the season.” - Source

September 2018
Fans Forum
The club is facing a maelstrom of adverse publicity in relation to its finances and what it isn’t spending. What is the answer to that?”
The club agreed that it was important to engage in further communications around its finances, which is an area in which there is a great deal of confusion and misinformation.
“The Fans Forum would extend an invitation to Mike Ashley and the manager to attend.”
The club agreed to pass those requests on. The club agreed it will add contact details for Fans Forum members to the club’s website pending the relevant GDPR process and that a WhatsApp group would be established for direct communication with the club. - Source
At the time of writing there is no Whatsapp group as promised and just four of the sixteen members of the forum are contactable through the club website, which is the same as there was at the time of the September 2018 forum.  You can check if the club has yet kept it's promise to add contact details for forum members here.

July 2015
Fans Forum
"Following SMc's recent email which was sent directly to supporters, the club outlined changes to how it will be communicating with supporters.  Direct communication to supporters will be a key element and emails will be sent on a regular basis from key individuals within the club.  As part of the club's new strategy, it will communicate with supporters directly so they get the news before anyone else does.  The club will also be delivering more content via official channels, more short clips from the training ground, when the team are away, the academy etc. and giving fans an insight behind the scenes.  The club underlined that SMc will play an important role in communication but that fans will get an insight from right across the club to share that responsibility." - Source

March 2015
Fans Forum
"The club has continued to promote the Fans Forum via social media but will look at ways to enhance this so that more fans are engaging in the process. The club contested the notion that the board and management pay ‘lip service’ to fans in the Forum, pointing out that all questions are included and are answered honestly and openly, save for the very few occasions when the board has been unable to disclose commercially sensitive or confidential information. The accusation is usually from people who know little about the Fans Forum or have no involvement in it.
"The board stated it is aware of supporters' concerns and is reviewing how the club communicates and how its messages are delivered and presented to supporters.
"The club is looking to improve the means by which it communicates." - Source

January 2015
Lee Charnley explains club comms to the Chronicle
"I think we do communicate but we need to find a better way to communicate.  Our view was that Alan was the one who was front and centre and will take all of the questions on all areas of the club. Alan was then left, sometimes, in a difficult position answering questions that he probably wasn’t best suited to answer.  This is an opportunity for us with a new head coach coming in – there’s more clarity about his role and what he does. His role is coaching and that’s what he can talk about.
If that’s the case it’s only right that I then support him in terms of the messaging going out. If I’m saying ‘Only talk about team selection and the games’ there needs to be another voice.  I think the information has been out there, through the fan’s forum and through the statements, but it’s how we get it out there that needs to improve." - Source

February 2014
Fans Forum
It was explained that while the Fans Forum had been selected as the Club's preferred method of direct fan communication, match day programme notes under the name of its former director of football had publicly carried consistent board-level messaging in relation to a wide range of matters throughout the season.  The board clarified that Joe Kinnear was involved in the drafting of the notes but that the overall messaging was determined collaboratively and could be read as communication from the board. - Source

September 2011
Derek Llambias
"Why is there such a lack of communication with the fans from Mike Ashley and his board? 
WHEN Mike Ashley bought the club back in 2007, we were keen to engage with supporters and did so with some regularity.  As a result of some of the things we’ve done in the past there will always be fans who will not like nor believe what we have to say. The upshot is that when we speak publicly more often than not we are criticised. Some football club owners and board members talk regularly in public and enjoy it, others don’t. We much prefer to concentrate on running the club and letting the football do the talking.  After the statement I made last week, it was interesting to read comments from some supporters saying “I just wish they’d shut up!” Of course everyone has a different view, that’s football for you, which as we all know is a very passionate game.  We understand the natural appetite for information and the need for fans to have clarity on the direction we’re taking the club. It’s why we have committed to an annual mission statement from the board, along with regular communications from our media department.  Last year the media team facilitated over 500 interviews with the manager, players and other club officials which demonstrates that the club does place importance on communicating with fans." - Source

May 2010
Derek Llambias
"All media articles and interviews regarding footballing matters will come through the Newcastle United Media Officer, and be answered by the Manager and/or coaching staff with the Manager's authority. The Manager can give interviews in respect of footballing issues and any other sporting issues that the press may be interested in around Newcastle United Football Club.
No interviews will be given by any members of the Board in respect of any footballing issues.
The only individuals who will talk about player issues will be those connected with the football administration of the Club i.e. the Manager/Assistant Manager by way of either direct interview or through prepared statements via Newcastle United Football Club's Media Officer. 
There will be no comment from the Board regarding the purchase of players.
There will be no comment from the Board regarding the sale of players.
There will be no comment from the Board regarding ongoing contract talks with players presently at Newcastle United Football Club or with those that the club may enter into negotiation with.
There will be no comment from the Board regarding current pay structures at Newcastle United. 
There will be no comment from the Board regarding players at other clubs in respect of their "interest" at playing for Newcastle United. 
There will be no comment from the Board to players' agents regarding any of the above whether those agents are acting for their clients in a buying or selling capacity. 
The Board will not make any comment to the media regarding any players that they are seeking to purchase. The Board will deal with agents on their fixed terms of business and part of those terms will include clauses relating to privacy. 
The Board will not comment to the media regarding any players being sold by Newcastle United and the Board will deal with agents on the usual terms of business including explicit terms of privacy." - Source

February 2009
Derek Llambias
“When Chris Mort was here he was very proactive with the Press. When I came on the board, Mike and I discussed it and we basically wanted to keep a lower profile. Then within no time at all KK happened. And then it just got worse and whatever we said got worse. So we decided to keep as low a profile as possible, get on with our business plan, move forward with what we were doing with our management team and to assist whatever manager was coming in as best as possible.” - Source

January 2009
Joe Kinnear
“Mike is going to speak to the Press when the window shuts." - Source

December 2008
Mike Ashley
"I am the first to accept there have been times this season when you would have liked to have heard more from me direct, particularly at certain points. There have been reasons why I have not have been able to do that, but in the new year we will look to communicate with you more about what we are doing at St.James' Park, be it through the club's official website, programme and magazine as well as the wider media.” - Source
November 2007
Chris Mort
“We’ve made a conscious effort to go out and meet people. That’s partly to promote the club, but also to hear what they have to say, making this a club that they feel a part of. I spend a lot of time walking around the city, just to get the place under my skin.” - Source

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Training Facilities & Academy

In 2013 Newcastle United announced that they would build a new multi-million pound training facility.  Since then, the message had been fairly consistent from the club, managers and staff that improvements are needed.  There has not been anything approaching the announced overhaul, but at least there was recognition that it's something that is required.

Then in 2018 Mike Ashley started making noises in opposition to this view. In his letter to Secretary of state for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Jeremy Wright in August 2018, he said it's fine as it is.  This was soon followed by a public argument for prioritising the first team squad over the academy and facilities from Lee Charnley.  So, ground still hasn't been broken on the upgrade announced in 2013.

October 2019
Despite the stated position of the club being that the Academy would not be a priority and investment there was beyond their means if they were to spend on the first team, Lee Charnley took the opportunity of the Longstaff brothers playing together for the first time , and winning against Manchester United, to claim rather than a cost saving, the club have a policy of cultivating local talent with a goal of promoting one academy product every year into the first team:

“To see Sean [Longstaff] do it last year and Matty get his opportunity — and he looked like it was his 25th or 50th game, not his first — was so pleasing for everyone. I think it was fantastic and we’ve seen the public reaction, not just the Newcastle public. I saw what Gary Neville tweeted after the game (he praised the boys and said their performance made him happy).  We want to be the best academy in the region. Our vision is we want local boys to look at it and think it’s not going to be full of boys from London, Manchester or abroad. Between nine and 16, it will be an academy with boys predominantly from the local area. There will be exceptions but generally, it will be local.  Other clubs may move boys around the country, sign them at 12, 13, 14, move their education. We’re not doing that. Consciously, we have made a decision not to do that and to give local boys the opportunity.  People say it might be because of this reason [no wanting to spend money] or that but it’s not. It’s a conscious decision to get local boys because we want local boys to see what’s happened with Paul [Dummett], Sean and Matty, and say that’s who they want to be.  They’ll know, if they’re good enough and work hard enough, they’ll get an opportunity at their hometown club. That’s what we want.  [The club’s] ultimate aim is that one player every year comes through our system and ends up in our first-team squad. That is what we want to achieve.” - Source

August 2019
Lee Charnley argues for prioritising the first team squad over the academy and facilities in an interview with the Chronicle
"What we have said is, it is about priorities.  There is a pot of money. Where is the greater need? At this time it's on field.  It's not unreasonable, the pot of money can only go so far. You go and spend it on the training ground it means there is less to spend on the team.  Spend it on the Academy, there is less to spend on the team.  Spend too much on wages, there's less to spend on the team.  That doesn’t mean we don’t spend in all those areas, because we do, but our view has been at this point in time the priority is what goes on to the field.  It doesn’t mean we don't want to update the training ground.  Does it mean at some point in time we would like to update the training ground? Absolutely, yes.  It is about priorities. It doesn’t stop us doing what we need to do on a daily basis.  Our pitches are very good, our gym is perfectly adequate and functional.  Do we have a swimming pool or water facilities? No.  Would we like to have it at some stage?  Absolutely." - Source
A cryptic comment in an article for the athletic from Rafa Benitez suggest an ulterior for Ashley being the only person not keen to upgrade the training ground
"They told me they didn’t want to invest in the academy or the training ground — if they like, I can explain the reason why Mike Ashley refused to do that.  Their idea of a project was a policy of signing players under 24 and, in my opinion, the budget available was not enough to compete for the top 10." - Source

July 2019
In an interview with Mike Ashley in the Daily Mail, the claim was made that a £20m training ground improvement was put in writing to, then manager, Rafa Benitez
"Newcastle have a record of their correspondence with Benitez which includes the openness to an eight-year deal, and a pledge of £20m to improve training facilities." - Source 

April 2019
In an interview, Lee Charnley reiterates that the cost of a training ground upgrade is now the excuse to not invest, rather than uncertainty over the league status of the club or any disruption it would cause the squad:
“We are looking at a training ground building project that is potentially going to be between £15 m and £20million.  If you were to ask me now, do I think we are best served spending that on a new training facility or spending it on improving the team, now, today in the short-term, I think that money is best spent on the team.  We have revisited the plans that came out and we now have a different design. We have also got a different build structure.  In my experience, has a player turned round and said I’m not signing for Newcastle United because of your training facilities? No. Did it stop us getting promoted out of the Championship, did it stop us finishing tenth, did it stop us having a good season this season? No. Is it something at some point in the future, if we could and it was the right time to spend the money, we would look at improving? Yes.” - Source

September 2018
Eddie Rutherford, NUFC facilities manager, in an interview with The Chronicle
"Yes, we know we need a [training] building long-term, we know that.
It’s common knowledge we have plans for the training ground
We have one pitch outside we want to upgrade – there are plans.
within the training ground there are lots of things which have been done over the last few years and lots of things we want to do and the same at the academy.
If I say I want all this money to do everything I want to do in one go, I’m not going to get it so you need to be sensible. These are things we need to do." - Source
In the Fans Fourum, it's stated that the cost of a training ground upgrade is now the excuse to not invest, with limited funds available and those funds best reserved for buying first team players.
There is a shared aim to improve training facilities but in prioritising its needs, the club feels its overall budget is currently better spent on the team.  Eddie Rutherford’s view was that the club’s facilities were by no means the worst in the Premier League.
Is the aim just not to be the worst?
The club stated that was absolutely not its aim. It always wants to improve in all areas and that will continue. Whilst there might be differences around the timeline, what all parties want is ultimately the same. 
Do those plans include hydrotherapy facilities?
The club confirmed that would be an inclusion. 
What is the timescale?
The club is currently unable to put a timescale on the new training ground building.  However, plans have been drawn up and it would be built modularly, around the existing facility. This change to the plan was at the suggestion of the manager in order to minimise disruption to the players and all parties agree this is a significantly better approach than the original plans. 
Given there’s one pot of money, something has to give; the timescale on the training ground, or investment in the playing side. Is that fair to say?
The club agreed, stating that at this time the squad was its priority and full focus.
 - Source
At the same time the club argued for the de-prioritisation of the Academy
"The club believes the debate around Academies is intensifying. There is a belief that it is becoming more and more difficult to bring through young talent, with managers generally reluctant to call on Academy players in the Premier League. The club also believes the current rules make it easier for the big five or six teams in the country to secure the best players from all other Academy systems." - Source
August 2018
Mike Ashley, in a letter to Secretary of state for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Jeremy Wright.
"Our training facilities have improved significantly during my tenure. They are fit for purpose and very clearly do not have a negative impact on performance, given we secured a place within the top 10 of the Premier League last season." - Source

June 2017
Fans Forum
"The club is continuing to discuss the development of the training ground but is currently prioritising investment in other areas incuding the squad, rather than on the immediate construction of brand new facilities.  While plans haven’t changed significantly, there have been modifications to the process in consultation with the manager and the club is aiming to minimise disruption to the team. There is currently no timescale on developments but the club remains committed to the long term project.  The club reassured members that while it would like to improve aspects of the training ground building, the outdoor and indoor pitches that players use for match preparation are as good as anywhere else in the Premier League." - Source

August 2016
Fans Forum
"The club explained that it had enhanced its initial Training Centre plans significantly and that discussions had taken place with Rafa Benítez prior to any work commencing.  Following those discussions, it was agreed that knocking down the entire building could be extremely disruptive, particularly given the team’s current focus.  Accordingly, the club is exploring how the building could be developed modularly; enabling the team to remain in the Training Centre while still allowing for significant improvements to the building infrastructure.  Eddie Rutherford confirmed that in the meantime, significant investment had been over the summer months to enhance the layout of the current building and gym in consultation with Rafa Benítez. There has also been a brand new artificial surface laid at both the training centre and Academy.  The club reemphasised its original commitment to significantly improving the club’s training facilities going forward." - Source


June 2016
Rafa Benitez on priorities after becoming manager
"The first few days after I confirmed I was staying, I spent in Newcastle at the training ground and the Academy, meeting with staff and planning the changes we needed to make to these areas of the Club." - Source

February 2016
Fans Forum
"The club explained that it had reviewed its construction plans to see if enhancements could be made. Those improvements have been added, resulting in a superior facility to the original drawings. Those plans are with architects and the club will proceed at the most appropriate time. The club still has the same desire to improve those facilities." - Source

October 2015
Fans Forum
Are there any updates on the club’s new training facility?Club reply – The club took the original decision to delay construction for two reasons. Firstly, its league position at a time when it was required to sign contracts for work to start in May 2015 and, thereafter, to minimise disruption in the first season of a new head coach.  The plans have since been revisited to see if any enhancements can be made and that is on going. The club is committed to upgrading its training facilities at the most appropriate time. - Source

July 2015
Fans Forum

The club outlined that planning has been approved, tenders had been out and prices had been supplied. In order to proceed, contracts needed to be signed well in advance but because of the position the club found itself in towards the end of the season, the decision was taken not to commit at that time.  Along with the head coach, the club is now identifying the best time to start work and is mindful of disruptions mid-season. - Source

November 2013
Joe Kinnear, Director of Football at the time, on the announcement of a new multi-million pound training facility
"This is a hugely exciting development for Newcastle United. We have one of football's great stadiums and we are delighted to now be announcing plans for a training complex which will rival any in Europe.  Top players and top teams need top training and medical facilities. Our current training ground has served the Club very well but the new complex will give us all of the ingredients that we need to continue maintaining and enhancing the performance of elite footballers. It will also be an added attraction when we are looking to recruit players." - Source
Club Statement outlining the details of a new multi-million pound training facility
"The current intention is that work will get underway in May 2015 and when complete in early 2016, the Magpies will occupy one of the finest training facilities of its kind in Europe.  While existing training pitches and a modern indoor training hall will be retained, the Club's current Training Centre building will be demolished and replaced by a much larger, high-tech structure.  It will accommodate newly-designed changing, training, rehabilitation, medical, leisure and catering facilities and will also introduce the latest aquatic technology to the site, with a 20-metre swimming pool, a hydrotherapy and fitness pool and specialist equipment to aid injury prevention and recovery.  The new construction will also create a fitness centre double the size of the Club's existing gymnasium, as well as administrative space, a presentation suite for match analysis and a new media suite." - Source


Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Every Penny Available for Transfers

Over and over again, Mike Ashley and his representatives at Newcastle United use the same line about not taking a penny out of the club, and has specifically stated that this includes repayments of borrowings.  In truth Mike Ashley has been repaid £44m of his loans since 2012 in addition to other streams of value such as free advertising, merchandise contracts and property sales.

October 2019
An official NUFC statement in response to criticism of Mike Ashley from Jeremy Corbyn concedes loan repayments have been made and that (very specifically) the owner has not taken a penny in interest, salary or dividend, ignoring the value he's taken in free advertising, merchandising and property sales:
"Financially, other than sums provided to the club on a short-term, interest-free basis and​ ​repaid to​ ​him as intended, we would like to make it clear that Mike Ashley has not taken a​ ​penny out of​ ​Newcastle United in interest, salary or dividend, as is customary at many clubs.  As stated on numerous occasions before, every penny Newcastle United has will continue to​ ​be​ ​available to it." - Source
August 2019
Lee Charnley matchday programme notes
“I have to stress that every penny we make really does go into making this club better.  That principal has been debated and questioned, but we are audited independently and have to provide regular financial information and updates to the Premier League so there is no hiding place.” - Source

July 2019
In a Daily Mail interview Mike Ashley claims he takes no loan repayments, contradicting the club accounts referenced below.
"I could say to Lee Charnley, our managing director, I'll have £10m, £12m. But a good custodian will make every penny count. No interest, no repayments.  So in that way I'm a good custodian" - Source

April 2019

Accounts to 30 June 2018, reveal that Mike Ashley prioritised a £33m loan repayment to himself over funding the transfers or training ground improvements Rafa Benitez wanted
"Subsequent to the Statement of financial position date, and consistent with the Group's previously stated policy of repaying short term borrowing, £33m was repaid to Mr MJW Ashley and companies under his control" - Source
September 2018
In the fans forum the club confirm Mike Ashley has received a loan repayment of some amount and all "short term" loans will be repaid by the end of the financial year.
"By the end of the financial year we aim to pay back what is owed, in terms of short term funding, to whomever it is owed. The amount owed to the owner was disclosed in last accounts and the figure is currently less than that." - Source

May 2018

Mike Ashley statement
"Rafa, as always, has my full support, and contrary to some media reports that portray me as a pantomime villain, I will continue to ensure that every penny generated by the club is available to him." - Source

August 2017

Mike Ashley interview
You've mentioned you can't take on a country like that, I don't want to ask you how much money you're giving Rafa Benitez..
MA: Not enough. Sorry to interrupt, but it's not enough. Very simple. It's not enough. And Rafa knows that, it's not enough, it's not a secret. Every penny the club generates he can have, but it doesn't generate enough. It's Newcastle United, it doesn't have a £40m a year stadium naming rights deal, it doesn't. I don't want the fans to watch this interview and think: 'Great, Rafa's getting £150m in the morning.' He's not. With Lee Charnley's help, and Lee answers to Rafa by the way, not the other way around, let's be crystal clear, Rafa makes all the final decisions on players out, players in, but he has to do it with the money the club have. I have put my £250m in the football club, guys, that's it, there is no more from me, now the club has to generate its own money. - Source

May 2017

Mike Ashley statement
“I’ve confirmed to Rafa and Lee that they can have every last penny that the club generates through promotion, player sales and other means in order to build for next season.” - Source

April 2013

Accounts to 30 June 2012, reveal that Mike Ashley prioritised an £11m loan repayment to himself over funding transfers

"Mr MJW Ashley also continued to provide loan facilities to the Group during the year.  The total balance outstanding at 30 June 2012 was £129 million (2011 - £140 million)" - Source

February 2011

Derek Llambias, after the sale of Andy Carroll
“Mike Ashley has only ever put money into this football club; he has never taken a single penny out.  And he won’t take a single penny of this £35 million either - all the money will go to the club and we are already working on identifying transfer targets for the summer." - Source 

September 2011

Derek Llambias in a Chronicle interview
"We said that not a penny would be taken out of the club and that is exactly what we have done." - Source

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Cups

When Newcastle United are in the cups, the club claim they are the best thing that can possibly be hoped to compete for.  There is much hype about the effort that will go into winning the cup and staff are supposedly highly incentivised to go for it.  There are tickets to sell, after all.

When Newcastle United are knocked out of the cups, while the club always claim the strongest team was put out, they themselves note usual starters that were omitted, they also argue (in opposition to the notion that they want the strongest team to start) that the cup is the worst distraction from the league, something that the club do not want to risk competing for in case it leads to relegation. 

There is not only over a decade of underlying evidence to show how early the club are routinely knocked out of competitions, how the team is weakened and injuries appear like clockwork ahead of cup games, but also official club statements admitting that they have gone as far as to "research" the fortunes of clubs outside of the top 6 that go on a cup run.  The conclusion being that it's very bad to win a cup, because you are likely to be relegated.

Over 13 seasons under Ashley, Newcastle have been knocked out of cup competitions 13 tiumes in the third round and 9 times in the 4th round with 1 Europa league quarter final the furthest they've reached.

August 2019
Steve Bruce press conference before making 7 changes for the visit of Leicester in the League cup
I’ve put my neck on the line immediately (saying he won’t prioritise Premier League over the cups)! I’m not really bothered what’s been done before. I can understand the philosophy of it but my perception of it all changed at Hull.  We were 2-0 up in the (2014) FA Cup final against Arsenal.  We nearly won it.  My perception of it changed too. Hull supporters had the best day out in their lives.  That’s got to be a route and that’s what we’ll try and do.  I realised it at Hull.  We got to the FA Cup final and if you ask the supporters what their biggest day was, getting into the Premier League or getting to the FA Cup final and they’d say the final.  Surely as a club we can win five games?  Can we win a cup tie, can we do well in the League Cup or the FA Cup?  That’s got to be an aim. It’s not just about staying in the division and being happy with that – that would be wrong. - Source

July 2019
Mike Ashley interviewed in The Daily Mail
I've got a manager saying, "Let me get on with it. Just let me get on with it - I won't let you down". I'm thinking, "I'm definitely having that". He gets it. He comes in: "The cups? Yeah, we go for them".  Certain things I haven't got right. I used to think our Premier League finish was more important. But where can we realistically go with this top six? The cups are the best of it. And it's great to have a conversation with someone who is so passionate for Newcastle United. I know I'm an eternal optimist but with what we've got now at the football club, something might be possible.
This interview also repeated earlier newspaper reports that Ashley was offering a £20m bonus to win the FA cup.  Though there were no quotes from Ashley himself on this, it's clear it's something he's briefing reporters on.
"He is still capable of unimagined enthusiasms and leaps of faith - writing in a £20million bonus for the players if Newcastle won the FA Cup several seasons ago."
Source
August 2017
Mike Ashley Interviewed by Sky Sports
Maybe this year we could look for mid-table this season, and maybe make the cups a priority this season. Get ourselves safe and then go for a cup. Either cup. And the dream would always be qualifying for the Champions League, that's what it is for me, simple. - Source

March 2015
Fans Forum minutes
The board explained that in the Capital One Cup, team selections had been generally strong this season. It was felt that the team that won at Manchester City was potentially one of the weakest on paper but achieved arguably the performance/result of the season. With regard to the FA Cup, the board explained that a number of clubs had voiced concern at a Premier League shareholders meeting about the scheduling of the FA Cup and the number of games during the Christmas period. This was something that the Premier League acknowledged, but it was unavoidable. That said, it was felt that the team selected for the third round tie at Leicester - which was the strongest available with the exception of Ayoze Perez (rested) - was put out with the firm intention of winning the game, and had the quality to do so.
The board contested the idea that the club goes out to lose any match. It was suggested that Newcastle United's openness in relation to the Premier League being its priority was unlike other Premier League clubs, who operate in much the same way without communicating that view to supporters.  The board outlined the strength of its teams in all four League Cup ties, with Newcastle United losing to the eventual runners-up.The board accepted its messaging could have been different in relation to the strength of the team that John Carver was able to field but reiterated that the starting line-up was the strongest it could be (Ayoze Perez aside).
The board assured Forum members that John Carver played his best possible team in the Leicester cup game and the board did not influence his team selection in any way. The board stated that its priorities had been disclosed in order to be open and transparent with supporters. - Source

May 2014
Fans Forum minutes
The board reiterated that the Premier League will remain the club's priority.  The board outlined research into Premier League clubs in relation to domestic cup competitions in the last five years, with Swansea City the only club outside the traditional top six to win a domestic cup and not be relegated in the same season (Birmingham and Wigan Athletic were both relegated). Independent research into the cost of relegation over the past ten years showed there is a 50% chance of not gaining promotion back to the top flight and a 30% chance of being relegated to League One or further. In addition, if clubs do return to the Premier League, it takes four years on average. - Source
January 2014
Fans Forum minutes
The board explained that the strongest available players had started the cup defeat to Cardiff City (with the exception of substitute Loïc Remy) and that it was a case of a poor result rather than poor team selection. The board repeated that its aim this season remains a top ten finish, clarifying that everyone at the club naturally wants to finish as high as possible.  While several other clubs had recently suffered relegation after winning a domestic cup, - Source

May 2010
Club statement
This great club has not won a major trophy since the 1969 victory in the European Fairs Cup. The first challenge is to maintain Premier League status. - Source