Magpie restoration

All right-thinking people will be aware of the fact that Newcastle United FC are on their way back to the English Premier League. Only a year ago the sky seemed to have fallen on the club: owner Mike Ashley had fallen out with manager (and club hero) Kevin Keegan, and had been keeping everyone guessing with a will-he-won’t-he, on-again-off-again attempt to sell the club. In the ensuing chaos Newcastle were relegated from the premiership to the Coca-Cola Championship, where it then looked as if there could be a terminal meltdown when Ashley failed to get Alan Shearer for the job of manager and the team was beaten 6-0 by Leyton Orient, whom nobody had even heard of before.

But then, quietly, everything turned around. The players got their act together, caretaker manager (and ex-Ireland player) Chris Hughton managed to calm everything down, and the club started winning games. Lots of them, in fact, so that five games before the end of the season their promotion was confirmed.

Of course it can all go horribly wrong again, but just for now supporters are feeling that almost forgotten sensation, confidence and optimism.

But even if all goes well, the Newcastle experience over the past 12 months does suggest that some issues in English (and international) club football need to be addressed. Does it really make sense that the world’s largest clubs are ‘owned’ by rich businessmen? Indeed, does it make sense that these same businessmen often really own the clubs only with the help of impossibly large bank loans? Are footballers overpaid? Can the executive management teams of these clubs not understand that football managers need to be allowed to develop their tactics over a longer period, and that changing them every time a team has lost three consecutive games is simply insane? How should we evaluate the role and influence of television stations (in particular Sky TV) in soccer?

For Newcastle fans like me this is a great moment. But it is also a good moment to ask these larger questions, and it is perhaps a good time for serious reform.

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2 Comments on “Magpie restoration”

  1. kevin denny Says:

    I think you should enjoy their time in the Premiership: it may not be that long…

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