Which current top four side will be ousted once Newcastle United inevitably qualify for the Champions League?
Keep your mails coming in over the weekend to email@example.com…
Liverpool or Chelsea to make way for Newcastle?
As we’re no longer a big four team, and haven’t been for some time, Newcastle’s inevitable imminent entry into the Champions League doesn’t really bother me.
But what is interesting, is who makes way.
City aren’t going anywhere for now. They’ll remain in the top four as it will take time for Newcastle to knock them off their perch.
United will always be in or around the top four due to the sheer size of the club and the money it takes in.
So that leaves one other place which means either Liverpool or Chelsea will find themselves ousted – or it could be both.
Fun times ahead.
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London
Looking back with relief
Non-native Newcastle fan of 25 years here. As I’ve yet to come to a fixed opinion on the new ownership regime I’m instead writing in to share my sheer, overwhelming relief at being rid of Mike Ashley. Football365 have mercifully been one of the few news outlets to repeatedly call out the Ashley regime, yet I still feel it’s worth going over the high (low?) lights of his reign to really drive home how he sucked the soul out of Newcastle. Incidentally BBC Football have run a fairly similar article which captures these feeling from local supporters.
Lack of Ambition – Getting straight to the most publicised one, it is absolutely crystal clear that Ashley’s intentions with Newcastle was primarily to use it as a Sports Direct billboard and try to scrape by on the lowest possible expenditure each season. His managerial appointees, Rafa apart, would not look out of place for a lower mid table Championship side. Kinnear, Pardew, McLaren and Bruce had all spent a minimum of 4 years outside the top flight and been fired by lower division clubs before being brought in as yes men. Even those coaches the fans had a warm relationship with (Keegan, Shearer & Houghton) had either never managed before or been retired for years. Add in his insistence on the cups being binned and the failure to capitalise on good seasons (only one senior player purchased after the fluked 5th place finish in 2012). Newcastle qualified for Europe 10 times in the 15 years before Ashley and once in the 14 years with him; the landscape in the league may have changed in that time yet it’s still stark evidence of how one man transformed a club.
Lack of Financial Acumen – Ashley may own half the high street but it’s difficult not to think of him as an idiot. Covering the stadium in Sports Direct logos put off other potential sponsors didn’t just remove space for actual paying sponsors but discouraged other companies for fear of being associated with his sweat shop emporium. I can’t find the stats now unfortunately (I eventually have some actual work to do), however some reports that came out around the 2018/19 season showed Newcastle’s commercial income matched that of 2007 (accounting for inflation) and was comparable of that which Watford and Bournemouth generated, despite the respective stadium sizes. It makes sense that the loan Ashley apparently gave the club at the time of his takeover to clear debts had barely been touched in 14 years despite drastic under investment in most of his years in charge.
Lack of credibility – As the BBC article above so eloquently put, “Any time there was a good feeling around the club it seemed like Mike Ashley deliberately tried to pull everyone back down to earth with a dreadful decision that served no-one’s interests but his own”. Deeply respected if not outright iconic staff such as Keegan and Jonas Gutierrez were victims of constructive dismissal (as proven in courts of law). Houghton & Shearer were treated like trash, being dismissed for backing the players in a bonus dispute and completely blanked respectively. Rafa was forced to deal with a character assassination after choosing to walk for very legitimate reasons. Then of course he was more than happy to use the furlough scheme despite the wealth of the club, while at the same time trying to claim Sports Direct was an essential business to keep his retail staff work at risk throughout the peak of the pandemic.
Some people may justly counter that he’s not as low as the very worst owners we’ve seen in English football (Steve Dale at Bury, SISU at Coventry, the Oystens at Blackpool) and that’s a fair point, things didn’t get that bad. I have no doubt though that given his track record, had Newcastle failed to bounce back immediately following one of the relegations he oversaw he would’ve begun asset mining the club, leaving a literal husk in his wake rather than a metaphorical one. I only hope that this is the last we see of him in football and that the £300m now burning a hole in his pocket doesn’t mean another club has to endure his excruciating form of ownership.
Good for Newcastle…
Good for them. Newcastle are some of the most passionate, long-suffering supporters in the country and now they’ve finally got some well-deserved hope. They’ve supported the club through very little thick and an awful lot of thin. And now it’s their turn to be optimistic and look with excitement into the future. Who can say they honestly don’t deserve it?
I lived in Durham during Kevin Keegan’s first , wonderful reign and that meant hearing a *lot* about Newcastle. Working out as a student at Maiden Castle meant coming into the same stratosphere as the Newcastle players, who wr’re there at the time. Their optimism, enthusiasm and confidence was contagious.
And even as a Liverpool supporter , I couldn’t help but be impressed by how much the club meant to its supporters. And the football that team played was magnificent, they were a lot of people’s second favourite team. I certainly loved watching them. If we couldn’t win the league , I wanted them to. Unfortunately Fergie was just too good. Not for the first time or the last.
But now it’s the Newcastle fan’s turn to hope for mega expenditure and Manchester City style success. Money talks very loudly and it’s hard to imagine the staggering lack of trophies in the North East will last much longer. If the new owners do what they say they are going to do of course, it’s never guaranteed.
Where it gets squirrelley of course is the track record of the owners in question. Human rights abuses, sport washing, the murder of Khashoggi – it’s a very bad look. But personally, I don’t see this as much different to other owners we’ve accepted. Does anyone truly believe Roman’s billions were obtained legally and sweetly? How are the Saudis abuses much worse than Quatar’s or the UAE’s? But we’ve accepted Manchester City and PSG. It would be absurd and myopically hypocritical to hold Newcastle to a different standard.
The fit and proper owners test is a farce and always has been. If being morally upstanding was a genuine requirement of Premier League ownership, well over half the clubs would not have their current chiefs.
Of course PIF will be run by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia . It is absolutely sportwashing , it’s completely about buying PR to make some very morally suspect people look considerably better . And it’ll work too. That the Premier League are pretending otherwise is more than unimpressive. Just as it was with City.
But that’s the reality. They’re here now, they’re here to stay and the football landscape just changed – probably significantly. People might as well accept where Newcastle’s money is coming from , being seen to be deeply morally offended won’t change anything. You can’t draw a different line in the sand for Newcastle as you do for everyone else.
I don’t love where the money is coming from. But if anyone can get it , I’m glad it’s Newcastle. It’s their turn, I hope they can enjoy their football club for the first time in a long time. I hope they return to playing wonderful, free flowing, exciting, attacking football. I hope the supporters get a club they can be proud of after the foul Cockney mafia have finished trying to destroy it.
And I hope they return to finishing second, just like the mid-nineties. The only difference being with Liverpool finishing top instead of United.
This simplistic view taken by far too many people who should be too clever to fall in to that trap is that somehow by supporting the takeover Newcastle fans are all of a sudden de facto fans of a murderous regime. It is possible to be two things at once; both opposed to a regime responsible for human rights abuses and supportive of the club. Most of those fans now being held in contempt by Amnesty and others have much more important to things to worry about like their jobs, their bills, their kids, and ultimately the club provides an avenue for escapism and community for thousands of people regardless of who the owners are.
The people who seem to imply that Newcastle fans should burn their season tickets in disgust are those so blinkered that there is a simple line on which people standing across from them are absolutely and irredeemably wrong. But that seems to be the way today. The attitude of Khashoggi’s widow is totally understandable, but the folk at Amnesty are expecting Newcastle fans to be more high minded than the people who run governments and world economies and there’s something massively unreasonable about that.
On the football side Bruce needs to go immediately. That circle cannot be squared with having such an unambitious manager who has never been in the top 8 of the PL with a club that now wants to go on and win trophies. But the reality of the situation is there is a lot of football to be played before any signings can be made and all the money in the world won’t change that, and if you think Conte will take a Championship level squad with his ego think again. He turned down Spurs who have Harry Kane in attack, you honestly think he’d go and manage Joelinton instead? Eddie Howe would be my choice; he’s a coach who has a track record of getting more out of a team than the sum of its parts at Bournemouth. Although his defensive record and transfer history is a worry he’d be the best placed to keep Newcastle up this year, play some better football and if Wilcox is appointed as Sporting Director hopefully signings won’t be within his remit anyway.
Like last time when it was just a rumor., I’m sure you’ll get tons of mails by *true fans* on how Newcastle takeover is everything that is wrong with football and that their supporters shouldn’t celebrate but protest.There will be mails in favor of takeover from Newcastle fans and fans of clubs like Chelsea and Manchester City. I don’t plan on picking a side but to pose a few questions to the *true fans*.
Sure, the Saudi takeover of Newcastle is bad. Their fans shouldn’t celebrate. Instead they should mourn the day their true club died. But it has happened before. Man City. And before that Chelsea. So, maybe it’s not the fans that are the problem. Maybe the problem is the EPL who are letting shady owners through the flimsy “Premier League’s Owners’ and Directors’ Test”. So, should the true fans be a part of the revolution by telling other fans how much to celebrate, if at all? Or should they spark a fight against the PL by boycotting it even if it costs their own club. Isn’t that what you are asking of the other fans too? To stop watching/following the club for the greater good till things turn right? Why not lead by example?
Like suggested to other fans, the non evil PL clubs have a responsibility towards the league and the country. Why not boycott and watch other leagues for a season or two until the EPL is forced to take action and put in an actual owners test that works? And even if it comes to nothing, you will be satisfied knowing you did something about it instead of just telling other fans how to feel. Genuinely interested if fans of the other clubs are willing to put pressure on the authorities for a better tomorrow at the expense of their own routine and comfort zone.
You know what, my first instinct was to dismiss Newcastle fans’ arguments as whataboutery; as a child in the playground shouting “he started it” to deflect the consequences of their own actions. The thing is, though, they’re right. Why should this be the line? You can sell them weapons to bomb innocent civilians and build your own economy on the foundation of their cheap oil but god forbid they buy a football club.
It doesn’t make it any less sad, though. It’s just one more reminder that morality is non-existent in capitalist economics, that we have built an artificial bubble of comfort and wealth in the west on the back of human suffering and that as long as it is over there somewhere far away then it is not our problem.
There is nothing remarkable about this takeover and it is all the more tragic for that fact.
David, Wexford (typed on a laptop built by slaves)
With some Newcastle fans gleefully celebrating the arrival of Saudi financing, is it fair to say it shouldn’t just be players who are criticised for only thinking of the money?
Your most uncomfortable footballing moment…
A few years back I had a very successful mailbox question when I asked your readers to summarise their perfect footballing moment – mine was in Turkey after a day’s scuba-diving I sat in a lovely roof top bar watching the Liverpool game against a setting sun with an ice cold beer in my hand
However, as this dreaded international break is with us I want to ask the opposite – what is people most uncomfortable footballing moment. Again, this isn’t about a game, say when Man City beat Liverpool last year or when Saints smashed Man due to the away shirts.
Mine was in Croatia – I was just embarking on a solo holiday after Uni – I did what all students did back then, I gave Thomas cook £200 for a no named holiday and they sent me to Dubrovnik. It was then, and still is now, a beauty city. However I went in 2000 only a few years after the war finished.
I spent the early evening trying to find a bar that was showing the England game but was not able to. So I parked myself at outside café table and had a few beers whilst watching Croatian teletext. At some point a giant sat on the table next to me. He started speaking to me in broken English and starting sharing his stories of the war along with the local spirit which I will not show my ignorance to try and pronounce. All I can say is that it was very strong and somehow got me drunk from the legs up (Billy Connolly dinner party style).
As the game finished and my new friend “Von Massive” (as I called him) got drunker, louder and friendlier I realised that this was a veterans bars and I had stumbled into some kind of reunion. I sat for several more uncomfortable hours as my huge friend spoke at me, using his shovel like hands to jovially pat me on the back and stare at me whilst I drank his local short
I made my exit as he fell asleep on the table. I think it was England 1 France 1. But all I will remember from that game was thinking that I am glad this man was my friend as if he didn’t like me he could have simply snapped me in two.
Ian “LFC” H
You’re going to get a lot of these having had the temerity to apply your opinions to such an emotive subject, but for the record I disagree with your assertion of Liverpool’s best Premier League goal.
I was that saddo who owns (still do) all of the season highlight DVDs from yesteryear, and have watched them all many times over.
For me, the very best of all our PL goals remains Luis Suarez vs Newcastle. The close control to take down the ball whilst running at full pace (his first touch was with his shoulder) then a) leave Colocini for dead (he was not a bad defender!) and b) completely flummox Tim Krul in one movement was exceptional. Plus, it had an assist from my favourite Spanish left-back. The fact that Jose even tried to assist from the position he was in shows the confidence he had in El Pistolero doing the rest.
It was a seriously good goal and my all time favourite Liverpool PL goal. Take a look for yourselves; Luis Suarez vs Newcastle 2012/2013 (With commentary) – YouTube