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Are Newcastle keeping up with the times?

Football is going global at the rate of knots; the game has acquired many admirers in the last few years, undoubtedly more than it did in last few decades. One of the proofs of this is the new multi-billion pound deal that the Premier league has signed. The deal will see clubs in the Premier League pocket insane amount of money.

It seems that this will only be the tip of the iceberg and there is more to come in terms of money. So the question is with all these developments are the Magpies doing enough to keep up with the times.

My view in that particular aspect is a resounding no, let’s look at the things where the club can not only improve but improve dramatically.

Former Managing Director Derek Llambias in his time at the club lamented the fact that Newcastle United have only a proportion of fans to the so called big clubs yet nothing has been done to correct that bias. There are many ways to do so but the club seems complacent with what it has.

The club could organize a pre-season tour that could involve going to countries where they don’t get to see their idols in flesh but seem reluctant to do so. In fact since the club finished 5th at the end of 2011-12 season both the pre seasons have been so underwhelming that it’s no surprise that the performances on the pitch have shown a distinct lack of preparation and of fitness.

Clubs not only in England but also in other leagues in Europe and in the world are scouting players from different geographies not only for what they can do on the pitch but what they can do off it. Yet when it comes to the Toon it seems the club will only look at select locations and that too at prices that do not reflect the earning potential the player can bring. In fact in the last three transfer windows the club have signed seven players (two on loan), and out of those six of them are French. Clearly a myopic view from the club failing to recognize a revenue stream which could bring in millions in merchandising and other sponsorship avenues.

These steps would have gained more fans from around the globe and would have helped close the gap on so called bigger clubs but it seems that the club is content and seeks to hold what it has.

Talking of sponsorships we see the other clubs having multiple sponsors, a club like Manchester United have not only Chevrolet for the next season but they also have DHL and Turkish Airlines as sponsors paying money in different capacities. Liverpool have signed deals with Vauxhall and Dunkin’ Donuts. Barcelona have shirt sponsors for outside as well as inside the shirt. Even if you think Manchester United, Liverpool and Barcelona are too big to compare then look at Tottenham Hotspur a club not so recently at par or may be below us but they now have two sponsors one for the cup and one for the league.

Newcastle United when it comes to sponsorship have Wonga as their sole sponsor. And if some sources are to be believed they are paying less than what the previous incumbent Virgin Money were paying. In case their line of business wasn’t bad enough. But hey at least we got the St. James’ Park back.

It is not as if the club do not have scope for more advertising, the whole ground is plastered with the owners company Sports Direct which is worth 12 million pounds a year. Thanks to the interest free loan from the benevolent owner the club has yet to see a penny of those 12 million pounds per annum.

The lack of revenues has resulted in club being compromised in paying effective wages. Compared to what the clubs pay to their star players the Toon do not pay the going rate. Hence there is always a compromise on the type and the pedigree of player the club can sign. Whether it is the direct result of the lackadaisical approach or the desired intention is a matter of another discussion. But we all know what that is.

Another major area where the club have let themselves down is the appointment of senior officials. Ever since the departure of Chris Mort the club have appointed people who the fans at best would describe unqualified (that’s being kind) for the purpose and that in an era where other clubs are employing highly qualified and ruthless professionals to get the best for their club. No wonder we can’t get them over the line. I wonder if they can even draw a line.

On the pitch too there has been nothing to be proud of. In the league the performances have been below par and uninspiring. Whereas other teams are playing attractive football the Toon seem to be stuck with a rigid and an archaic 4-4-2 formation chasing shadows.

It is no wonder that the club has taken close to 20 beatings by more than three goals since Pardew took over. An issue clearly not understood by the manager if his latest press briefings are any indication to go by. Selection of tired and players who do not foot the bill another reason for fans frustrations.

Football is a tough business as it is but it becomes even tougher when one keeps shooting oneself in the foot. Newcastle Manager has demeaned and often derided the Europa League competition yet we see clubs of similar if not bigger size giving their all in the competition.

You only have to look at the likes of Porto, Fiorentina, Sevilla, Lazio, Benfica and the likes to see what it means for them to be there. It is not as if we are trying to get Champions League, far from it. The competition does bring in revenue; sure it is not much but revenue still the same.

The domestic cups have not been spared as well they have been identified as more of a distraction than a chance of a rare trophy. Just how does the club justify its existence to a fan and convince a player to join is beyond me. It seems that the club are more interested in distancing themselves from the current fans rather than acquiring new ones.

Last summer Alan Pardew was quoted as saying how once the 5th biggest club in England and 20th in Europe could not compete with the likes of Swansea, Southampton and others. Well the truth is if the club continues to run like it has been running in the last seven years it would be lucky to compete at any level let alone the elitist of them all.

Comments Welcome

About Himanshu Dhingra (115 Articles)
I am a Newcastle United Fan and an Economist by Degree, Follow me on Twitter @HD_07. I love Indian Politics, Cricket, Formula 1, lawn Tennis

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