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Ben Hayes - Charlton Athletic programme

Newcastle fan concerned about club's direction

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A 'concerned Newcastle fan' has responded to our recent posting on the annual results at the football club and we are happy to post his comments which give an alternative perspective:

"I really like your website but have to say how disappointed I was with your ‘Big Profit At Newcastle’ article. I wasn’t surprised to see the local press, and sports journalists in general, regurgitating the club propaganda but I was very surprised to see you do the same. When I saw you’d written something I was expecting some incisive analysis.'

'The reality is that Ashley is strangling our club. Despite slashing costs to the bone including more admin staff redundancies and cutting the squad to the bone, the club still lost money (before the amortisation magic was worked). This is the third best supported club with all the inbuilt advantages of that, yet Ashley still manages to lose money before you come to the player trading/jiggery pokey.'

'No surprise from me to see them have the audacity to claim that our Commercial and Matchday revenue is going to drive us forward – but really surprised to see you fall for this. NUFC should be bringing in tens of millions more in Matchday/Commercial but their combined total is £16.3m LESS than the season (2006/07) before Ashley bought the club.'

'You repeat their boast of a 24% increase in Commercial Revenue, that massively hides the fact it was less than £14m the previous year, it was TWICE that (£27.6m) six years before!'

'Likewise the talk of Matchday revenues driving us forward, £27.8m this past season but six years before they were £33.6m, all of these figures are also without taking into account inflation and the massively expanded commercial opportunities for PL clubs now. As for Matchday revenue, Ashley’s drive is to make sure bums on seats at any price as a backdrop to his free advertising across his brands, so we have 8,000 in the family enclosure (which in reality is a cheap section and simply branded as a family area) plus most other fans are in long-term arrangements at a fixed price for their season tickets (though thousands have had enough and cancelled in the last month).'

'We are massively propped up by the TV money and with no commercial team to drive revenue, or desire to do so as it would dilute Ashley’s free marketing, we are knackered. There is no room for expansion/profit except by selling players."

In subsequent discussion he also made the point that one wouldn't have to spend a lot of money at Newcastle to make it a really successful club.

I have a number of friends who are Newcastle supporters and I can appreciate the concerns of Toon fans about the Ashley regime. Sometimes when we get financial results we have to report them in the first instance and do more analysis later. There are also limitations about what I can do whilst still pursuing the day job! Nevertheless, I think that the criticisms made by the concerned fan are valid ones.

It is quite unusual for a football club to make any sort of profit, particularly for three years running. But then one can do that by clever player trading. When Charlton were on the brink of establishing themselves as a top club in the years after the Second World War, they were known as a 'selling' club. The desire of the then owners to balance the books, laudable in itself, meant that momentum was lost. So I can empathise with Newcastle fans who are widely respected for their dedication.

I can only concur with your contributor

The club has become a marketing medium for Ashley's companies. Shares in his flagship company have risen from 133p to well over 700p since he took over the club. Yet the fiscal policies come with a price - Zero Ambition - for a club once deemed to be among the top twenty in Europe.

As someone recently wrote "Maybe we could place the set of accounts in the trophy cabinet ?"

AndyMac