Letters to my sons.

Trying to explain the world to two very small children.

My letter to NUFC.com

without comments

Dear Sons,

Newcastle United Football Club are currently on a PR offensive to try and undo the mess that they have got themselves in. NUFC.com has asked for comments and mine are below:

There are few things to mention here.

Newcastle finished second in 96/97 beating Nottingham Forest 5-0 on the final day to finish above Arsenal in Wengers first (not full) season in charge. Now correct me if I’m wrong but I think that Arsenal have been in the top 4 ever since. Wenger inherited a good team when he took over and has kept them at the right end of the premiership. He also spent quite a lot of money in that time. He may have brought youngsters through but he paid a lot for them, £5m for Theo Walcott for example who was still only 16 and Toon target Franny Jeffers for £8m – who was crap. He paid £3.5 for Patrick Vieira while Newcastle were paying £15m for Shearer.

Only yesterday was the full asset stripping nature of the Hall/Sheppard era exposed in the Guardian. If that money had been ploughed back into the club then where would we be today? Like Arsenal fans who are annoyed at the thought of finishing 5th and the UEFA cup? The nightmare, eh?

Ashley may well have rescued NUFC from bankruptcy and/or administration but I still think the reason he bought a football club was to make a fast buck. A man’s intentions can be seen how he runs his business. I don’t wear sports kit so have only been to sports shops a few times. His DirectSports shops are terrible. Dark and dingy they have nothing going for them except the cheapness of the merchandise. Buy it cheap, pile it high. Ashley needs to balance the books at NUFC but unlike retail he can’t just liquidate the stock and close the loss making shops. The sportswear industry is underpinned by cheap wages and terrible conditions in third world countries with lax rules on human rights and the environment. By employing teenagers at the very low end of the very low minimum wage scale profits can be made.

But a football club can not be run like that. Customers will flock to shops that sell the same gear as everyone else but for a fiver less, even if they have to talk to a disinterested 16 year girl who tuts all the time. Glory boys will hang around a football club but loyal supporters can not be bought off. The pain of watching your team play shit is painful – sometimes that pain is too much to watch but the love never dies. Ashley doesn’t appear to understand this, cheap tickets will not fill the stadium. If he wants to make money from NUFC he needs either to get a time machine back to the late 80’s or get Newcastle into the Champions League.

Villa, the other club that Ashley is trying to emulate with his business plan, have spent over £80m on players and have a fantastic manager in Martin O’Niell. I got to know someone who played under him at Wycombe – the player still gets calls and Xmas cards all these years later. Who can hate Martin O’Niell – the man who made John Hartson into a quality player!!

You don’t emulate Villa by selling one of your hardest working, down to earth, honest players to them. You don’t emulate Villa by creating the conditions that force the best goal keeper in the country to quit. In retail there is another spotty teenager looking to supplement his pocket money with a Saturday job. This is not retail Mr Ashley!

Written by Administrator

February 12th, 2009 at 4:44 pm

Posted in Football

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