If Newcastle are trying to cheat FFP with ASM sale to Saudi, they’re doing it wrong…

Editor F365
Allan Saint-Maximin and Newcastle United chairman Yasir Al-Rumayyan.
Allan Saint-Maximin is on the verge of a move to Saudi Arabia.

Maybe Newcastle are being subtle, but if they really wanted to flout FFP, they’d send their deadwood to Saudi, not Allan Saint-Maximin. Also: Welcome, Onana; and what Henderson really represents…

Get your views in to theeditor@football365.com


Oh no, Onana
Just wanted to say I completely agree with the article on Onana.

He will, without a shadow of a doubt, gift goals to the opposition next season. No two ways about it. I’m certain that the next day’s Mailbox will be full of crowing City and Liverpool fans – fair enough, one of the biggest joys in life, which for some reason we aren’t allowed to admit, is watching someone you hate f*ck up. However, his overall style of play, from what I’ve seen will massively benefit us as a team. He’s got excellent reflexes, is big, commanding, good with the ball at his feet, and seems to have the personality to not be fazed in big moments – I’ll take all of that and accept occasionally he will perform a very unsuccessful, quite probably goal conceding, Cruyff turn in his six yard box.

Mount and Onana both improve our starting 11 – looking forward to seeing them play!
Jack (Ederson pinged it to McTomminay to score from 30+ yards – happens to even the best) Manchester


Newcastle’s cheat code
I remember back in the day, when playing either Champ Man or Football Manager, if I really wanted to boost my funds I’d create a fake manager to take over the wealthiest club in the game, make a bid for a fringe player in my team that used up their entire budget, and hey presto I’d have millions to spend on whomever I wanted.

That’s what the Allan Saint-Maximin’s transfer to Al-Ahli reminds me of. It’s also why, regardless of whatever Eddie Howe accomplishes at Newcastle, everything they do will come with a big, bold asterisk.

Ronson, AFC

Read more: The specifics of Saint-Maximin’s Newcastle exit are strange, and Howe sob story doesn’t help


…In response to Dave Tickner’s cynical article re Newcastle and Saint-Maximin

First point regarding the way Eddie Howe has spoken about it. I’m sure he’s disappointed about him leaving, whilst ASM wasn’t necessarily an automatic starter last season, he is the type of player that can do something out of nothing. He saved a point against Wolves, unsettled Manchester City which again earned a point. He’s always been treated differently because that is what his talent has required. I’d suggest that Eddie Howe is using man management in the situation. Transfers have fallen through before, and if making ASM feel special brings out the best in him then why not use the opportunity to do that on the off chance he remains.

As for FFP, the club have briefed repeatedly that this was going to become a factor. I’m sure that while cautioning this has a ring of truth to it, they’ve also been so public with it in the hope it blunts some of the ‘Newcastle Tax’ that comes up when discussing players with selling clubs. ASM is probably one of the most saleable assets in the club, as previously mentioned he’s not been an automatic starter, but he’s also got bundles of talent. It’s a bit lazy to suggest that it is just to move money around. It was only in the last 12 month he was being touted as a target for AC Milan.

If transferring money into the club to skirt FFP, as you’re suggesting, then would it not be players like Ryan Fraser, Jeff Hendrick, Javier Manquillo that are being sold? Those 3 will not be in the first team squad next season, and would undoubtedly remove more from the wage bill than ASM alone. If those 3 were being bid for by Saudi teams then you’d have a point, but currently it’s tenuous at best.

Finally we’ve got the outrage of ASM coming back to Newcastle on loan, based of a quote from Howe. This in whole new territory, we’ve never heard a manager say a player who’s on the verge of leaving wouldn’t be welcome back at the club before. So this must mean he’s coming back on loan the day after his transfer is confirmed. Maybe he’s booked on the same flight as Ruben Neves who it was suggested would be coming to Newcastle on loan from Al Hilal. Funny how that’s gone quiet after the faux outrage it caused.

I get that the Newcastle’s owners are he worst of the worst with Human rights. I get that they’ve bought the club to further their own agenda and try and normalise their awful behaviours. No journalist should be dismembered for criticising a goverment. Newcastle probably isn’t quite the same club that I fell in love with as a kid because of it, but some of the stuff written about the footballing side of things is speculative at best, and when you chuck in a couple of cheap digs too, you can see why it gets the fans backs up.


What Henderson represents now
Saigon Adam has really rather missed the point. LGBT fans, including supporter groups such as Kop Out, who are deeply disappointed with Jordan Henderson’s decision to move to Saudi Arabia, aren’t saying he shouldn’t be allowed to. They’re saying that he can’t, morally or logically, both portray himself as an ally to the LGBT community and simultaneously become part of a sportwashing project for a despotic regime that publicly executes gay people. Because Jordan has done so, his previously laudable inclusive statements are rendered seemingly insincere. It’s an argument about moral consistency, not an argument about controlling others.

I have two sons, Liverpool fans aged 7 and 10, and I’d always pointed them at Henderson as a positive role model for his general decency, his progressive activism and his inclusive approach. Now, I suppose, he’s a useful object lesson for them that idols will let them down.
Dara O’Reilly, London


Saigon Adam is either a moron or a troll. But just incase it’s the first, let’s break it down. First of all the LGBT community don’t generally have a problem with being told what we can and can’t do, there are rules and we live in a society.

The problem comes from being denied the same basic rights as straight people in that society. Lack of marriage and adoption has been the big one in the west recently, but in Saudi Arabia they’re still focusing on not being killed for the crime of existing. I’m not going to detail the Saudi PiF for you because we’re all bored of that, but this fund that the LIV golf forgot was meant to be “separate” from the royal family, has been shown to be anything but.

They’ve now spent some of their vast fortune on clubs in the Saudi league. So we have a dozen or so Saudi teams, now spending money directly from their own royal family. The same royal family that approved 80 executions in a day not very long ago, for crimes such as homosexuality and ‘dissident thinking’.

So we’re now in a situation where Hendo, who went out of his way to appear as a queer ally, has immediately bent over backwards to accept money coming from a government that would cut my head off tomorrow given half the chance.

So yeah we’re upset, he chose to keep on wearing the armband, he chose to meet with queer supporters groups and spend an hour or so filling their heads with what turned out to be empty words. He chose to repeatedly publish messages of pride on his social media accounts. And in a sport that still has huge strides to make with its attitude towards sexuality, I was genuinely proud of our captain. I thought there is one of the few footballers today with a set of morals and I was so glad we never swapped him for Clint Dempsey.

Turns out he didn’t mean a word of it though, it was an easy box to tick for some social media clout. We’re not asking him to pull out of a World Cup here, we’re not even asking him not to leave us. We’re just asking him not to accept a pay check from a murdering, homophobic regime.
Manjo, LFC (if Hendo had made it clear he was chasing the money sooner then would we have kept Milner on?)


…Oh, Adam. Firstly, and just a quick note on this, I snort-laughed at the reference to the LGBT community as ‘an organisation’, as if we’re all in a WhatsApp group or share some sort of secret handshake. Queer people are no more ‘an organisation’ or indeed in any way homogeneous or unified than the people of any nation or continent, and so to call the whole community ‘hypocritical’ is quite the statement here, akin to calling all Asian people hypocritical because a handful of North Korean people have stated concerns about communism.

Furthermore, I do not believe that many LGBT people are ‘telling’ Henderson ‘what to do’. Many are expressing disappointment at his decision based on the fact that he has positioned himself as an ally to our cause. Yes, the money is ludicrous and it is hard to imagine turning such an offer down, but that is not to say that it’s not still disappointing.

Let me put this in football terms. If you were a Tottenham fan, say, and there was someone that you’ve always admired who isn’t a Tottenham fan but has always done his best to support Tottenham fans in their beleaguered position in the world, it would be disappointing to then see them in an Arsenal shirt. Especially if Arsenal had criminalised being a Spurs fan, with the maximum penalty being execution.

Just an extra thought.
Martin, London


Mr Popper’s paradox
I’m assuming there’ll be a few snarky replies to Saigon Adam’s mail, so I thought I’d try to get in with a vaguely constructive one first.

Adam’s conclusion gets reached quite regularly when people are discussing tolerance. And it’s been discussed for a while – the philosopher Karl Popper referred to it as the ‘paradox of tolerance’ back in 1945, and (according to Wikipedia, rather than the philosophy degree I don’t have) also called it ‘seemingly self-contradictory’, which is true and is why it continues to bamboozle people.

The first argument goes: If I’m allowed to say what I want, why can’t I say discriminatory things? Where’s my freedom of speech? Am I having my views repressed?

The answer in a nutshell is that in a tolerant society, everyone has to tolerate everything except intolerance. The best way I’ve seen it described is as a sort of ‘social contract’ – basically you’re allowed to do and say what you want up until the point where you’re trying to stop other people doing or saying what they want. At that point, you can be legitimately shut down/shut up/criticised.

The Jordan Henderson example isn’t quite so cut and dried as JH isn’t doing the repressing himself, but he’s being seen as supporting a regime that represses LGBTQ+ rights. If you accept that, then he’s supporting intolerance – and therefore can be criticised for his decision, without the criticism being hypocritical.

Just to clarify further with a bit of extrapolation – imagine this conversation:

LGBTQ+ community: We’d like to be able to sleep with consenting partners of our choice.

Someone else: I think you should be put in jail or killed.

It’s pretty obvious which side has forfeited their right to freedom of speech in that example.

Hope that was helpful and not too boring. The guy’s called Popper, that’s got to make it slightly more fun. If his nickname wasn’t Party, the game’s gone.

Dan, Worthing


Henderson, boycotts and WWC
Laters Hendo Lad – thanks for the memories, especially the Jordan Shuffle while being the first English captain to lift the PL, CL, FAC, CWC, SC and LC with one side – all achieved by battling against a club with greater financial power and a propensity for bending FFP rules.

Although he’s made a mug of me, and many others who stuck up for him, I think if I’m being honest I’d park my morals and write off months of fitness work for £700,000 A WEEK!

It is a disappointing end to a love affair and a real shame us fans never got the chance to say goodbye – same to Fabinho – but to get £40m back from £44m and £12m back from £20m on players who have given us their best years is a no-brainer.

It’s also disappointing morally because nobody asked Henderson to be a LBGT+ ally and it makes his past words seem very hollow.

It made me think about similarities between my personal stance of deciding I’ll never watch the Saudi Pub League and a certain type of male who goes out of their way to not watch women’s football.

My boycott is out of principle because I have no time for religious countries who follow the rules of a book written by men 4,000 years ago who didn’t know where the sun went at night and despite demanding men run the world blame women for everything.

What do men who like football but are steadfastly currently ignoring an actual World Cup tell themselves internally other than men are just better? (Arsenal are better than Spurs but people still watch Tottenham . . .)

Are they just willfully ignoring the fact the women’s pro game is a century behind the men’s so at this point it isn’t going to be as slick? Or are they bitter they never had the talent to make it and hate seeing ‘girls’ live their dream? Or do they only rate speed and power and pretend play-acting is fine? Or – not having one – am I unaware that a penis has an actual benefit to kicking a ball with your foot? It sure doesn’t look that way in defensive walls and when there’s a ball to the nuts. Please enlighten me . . .
Jo (certain type of male is going to trigger certain types of male) Kent


Ruthless Erik
My man Wes (London) clearly doesn’t understand what ‘ruthless’ even means.

Dropping / moving on people who are no longer (or never were) good enough, without sympathy or emotion, is literally being ruthless.

There is a long list of players not good enough to bring United back to where they want to be, on entirely too much money for the privilege.

This is indeed a fine example of how, for almost 10 years, United were not acting like a big club. This can’t be used as a stick to beat ten Hag.

For the last 14 months or so since he came in, ten Hag has RUTHLESSLY made decisions to get United back on track to working like a big club should (Real Madrid, Bayern, etc.)

Dropping Cristiano Ronaldo – the highest paid, most famous player at your club, with the biggest ego to boot – is ruthless. EtH couldn’t care less about his name or his history. He didn’t fit in the system, so he doesn’t play.

When he overstepped the mark, got above his station and brought the club into disrepute, he was sold. Ruthless.

Harry Maguire cost £80m and was the club captain. EtH gave him a chance, but he can’t play a high line. Dropped. ten Hag didn’t care that he was a record signing or that he had the armband. Ruthless.

When push came to shove, ten Hag was no longer willing to ‘make do’ with a goalkeeper who can’t play with his feet. Offering someone a contract and then rescinding it is not a great look, but it sure as f**k is ruthless.

United are where they are now – seeing a League Cup and a Top 4 finish as a pretty damn good season – due to years of mismanagement, bad recruitment, worse selling and a general lack of ruthlessness applied to the likes of Phil Jones and Ashley Young who were inexplicably given new contracts instead of being moved on.

In reality, United probably still need to move six or seven on and bring four or five in to even compete at the top table again. This will take another season at least. But you can’t dispute the fact that there has been a sea change in operations since last summer.
James, MUFC


Still won’t watch
I’ve been meaning to write in for a while about Saudi Arabia and their recent signings.

The headline numbers state Ronaldo earns £3.6M per week (week!) whilst Benzema earns £3.58M per week. Kante is third on the list at £1.7M per week whilst other players are tending drop into reasonable but still good European salary levels. So if you are a 30-something whose legs (or other body parts) are gone, expect similar moves to occur.

I fully expect Henderson to move given his form last year. Mahrez is surprisingly 32 and not broken but maybe they are offering Kante money here. I am surprised at Ruben Neves though. A factor behind these deals might well be a back door deal to ensure failed Super League clubs balance their books by other means.

This really needs to be looked into by the authorities as signing players for vastly inflated salaries to ensure that they move off the books of clubs where they have ceased to become useful must be some form of foul play. Liverpool and Chelsea will have gotten a good few high earning ageing and therefore underperforming players off their salary budgets by the back door. Expect more 30-somethings on enormous wages that clubs don’t want to pay huge wages to any longer to make the move also in the coming years.

This brings me on to: will I be watching? No. In the same way I don’t watch the MLS nor the Chinese League despite the stars both leagues have signed currently and in the past. The level is just not competitive. Why watch mega-rich has-beens who we all know are past their best play against kids? Al Ittihad has an average gate of 39,522. Not bad you might think, but they have a stadium capacity of 62,345 which equals a 63% fill most weeks. Al Hilal boasts a 67,000 stadium capacity but averages only 8,984 so a laughable 13% fill. Al Nassr has 16,473 from 25,000 so 65% whilst Al Ettifaq manages 6,571 from 25,000 so 26%. Some might say the stars will attract more but I am skeptical. Culturally I’m just not sure the interest is there to attend matches from the general population and the above numbers would support that. I’m also not sure about the away following which also hampers US sports in a lack of match day atmosphere.

My football watching capacity is pretty full these days with Premier League, Champions League, Euros and World Cups along with following Albion and Cambridge United (up the Us). My remaining interest has gone to the Women’s game and I’ll be watching of course over the next few weeks living it with our Lionesses. As Sky is too expensive, if I’m home on a Sunday I’ll stick the WSL on. I’ve definitely not got the time to tune in to the Saudi League nor particularly the inclination and that’s purely on sporting merit – in the same way I don’t watch the MSL or Chinese Super League. I won’t go into aspects of their society that I find erm, problematic.
Rich (a few more signings eh, WBA), Cambridge


Michael Owen’s mum writes…
Unpopular opinion. I love Michael Owen. There. I said it.

I don’t care that he’s a no-personality, horse-obsessed gambler and I don’t care that he played for the scousers at the time. I don’t care what anybody says. THAT goal against Argentina at France ’98 was the single most exhilarating, thrilling moment I’d seen on a football pitch and probably still would be were it not for Giggsy’s goal against the Gooners and the Treble being won less than a year later.

It was a goal to rival Maradona’s against us all those years earlier, although Owen did have a clearer run at goal, he did it faster, topped off with a top-bins finish. I was on top of the world, convinced that this time England, 2-1 up against Argentina would go on to lift the World Cup, at last! Nobody could stop us, nobody can stop Michael Owen! 32 years of hurt never stopped me dreaming! I was only 12 at the time, forgive my youthful optimism.

Of course, it didn’t quite pan out like that, but El Diego himself went on record to say “Owen, for me, was the only good thing to come out of France ’98. Speed, cunning, balls. I hope injury doesn’t destroy him”

Sadly, the great man’s concerns proved prophetic and his career just sort of fizzled out. He was already well on the way down, but I was still genuinely happy when he chose to join United on a free in 2009. The fact that it made Liverpool fans detest him, along with the winner against City and equaliser against the Villa in the League Cup final made it all a worthwhile venture and I was thrilled that United were the ones to give this Premier League icon the opportunity to lift the famous trophy at last.

For a few years at the turn of the millennium he was England’s go-to guy for a big goal in a big game. The hat-trick against the Germans, the Brazil World Cup 2002 quarter-final, the Portugal Euro 2004 quarter-final. Not forgetting the dive over Pochettino’s left foot in Sapporo to award Beckham his shot at redemption against Argentina, again in WC 2002! He seemed one of the few players under Sven who looked like he was enjoying himself, until the injuries began to pile up, of course.

I understand the hate for him and he hasn’t helped himself at times, but he’ll always be a legend to me, for all the reasons outlined above.

Lee, child of the ’90s

Owen speaks on Man Utd

WWC openers
Couldn’t even get 1 game in and my group prediction is already ruined for group A. 1-0 to New Zealand, I had the exact score, but the other way round.

Should have backed the hosts when the teams are so closely matched I guess, but wondered if the pressure may get to them, while always thinking that the Aussies would be able to have a slightly off night and still prevail in their opening clash.

Will be interesting to see if the Philippines can get anything from their game against the Swiss tomorrow who must be looking at Norway and thinking they can take them.

Canada should really have too much for Nigeria, and Spain vs Costa Rica probably won’t be quite as simple for the La Roja ladies as the chaps had it in Qatar, but they should make a strong start to their campaign here.

Enjoy the vibe folks, 2 World Cups within 7 months, a cracking state of affairs.
Manc from SA (Then we still get Rugga and Cricket World Cups for Gents, bumper sporting year!)


The pirate test
You know who doesn’t care about political correctness or being on the right side of history or being labelled a bigot?

Pirates. Pirates aren’t going to stream women’s football if there’s little interest in it.

I don’t have a TV license so I have to find a stream. For the women’s Euro’s it was very difficult at the start of the tournament, but as it progressed and gained popularity more pirate sites hosted streams.

Also, my ex who usually watches men’s games with me isn’t interested in the women’s game. Not because of the lower quality, but because there’s no fit guys with fit bums to stare at. So Exuuuuuuuse me if I don’t feel ashamed for checking out the T&A of the women players in the slow motion replays.

Tommy Gander