It gets crazier and crazier in Newcastle (and that’s saying something)

I suppose it had to happen. Just as everyone was settling down, the fans were content (if occasionally a tad anxious), the media vaguely positive – just as it all looked reasonably good, in steps Newcastle owner Mike Ashley and fires manager Chris Hughton. OK, I hope you know what I am talking about here: it’s one of my occasional rants about football club Newcastle United. Apologies to those not in the least interested.

Nearly two years ago former Ireland international Chris Hughton was plucked from a supporting role under Kevin Keegan to take over as acting manager, and eventually permament manager. How did he get on? Just after Newcastle were relegated in the summer of 2009 he put in place a proper team spirit and a determination to get out of the mess, and sure enough, Newcastle dominated the Championship and were back up in the Premiership at the first available opportunity. A number of commentators predicted they would fail there, but in fact Newcastle have beaten Aston Villa and Arsenal and held Chelsea to a draw. So what does an owner like Mike Ashley do? Well, he fires the manager of course. And what do the fans do? They cry in despair.

One of the major problems with soccer right now is the role that has now been given to rich football club owners. They often treat clubs like their personal toys, undermining stability while often not providing necessary funds. Some get it right: Arsene Wenger at Arsenal and Alex Ferguson at Manchester United have been given full autonomy to act as needed without owner interference. And who could deny that it has been a successful formula?

In the end, though, football clubs are the property of their fans, for without them the business would collapse. I believe we need to think again about the appropriateness of having wealthy owners at all – perhaps there should be a FIFA rule (if only FIFA were more transparent) that all clubs are required to be cooperative ventures owned collectively by their supporters.

Right now I am stunned, in total disbelief.

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9 Comments on “It gets crazier and crazier in Newcastle (and that’s saying something)”

  1. kevin denny Says:

    ‘Though no lawyer, I would have thought any such FIFA rule would be ripped apart in the courts since it is effectively expropriating property. Who would compensate the (ex-)owners?
    Fans (& I am one) are not the owners however important we might think we are, they are the customers. Like any industry, there are owners who are mad or bad.
    The Arsenal model is somewhat different from Man Utd. Ferguson has control over the football end but thats it whereas Wenger, an economics graduate, is much more involved in financial issues, like contracts, as well as the football.

    • I’m not sure you could see football clubs like ordinary businesses, with the fans as customers. In many cases (Newcastle most certainly included) they are communities. Indeed the business model depends on it being so. Customers at Tesco clearly are not part of a community in the same sense. I am increasingly of the view that private ownership distorts and undermines this model. Wow, maybe I’m a communist… šŸ™‚

  2. Vincent Says:

    If the UK declared the footprint of the stadium with a sports designation in the planning laws. This would prevent some of the gearing that is being done by the debt financing of insane buyouts. Or like with Wimbledon the removal of the club entirely. Then their only source of cash would be the gate, TV and the fashion.
    As to the fans owning the club, bullshit. That’s like saying you or I own the church we sit on Sunday.

  3. Al Says:

    So, there looking for a manager!
    Interested Ferdinand?
    Or will it be Scottish league first?

  4. Anna Notaro Says:

    ‘They often treat clubs like their personal toys, undermining stability while often not providing necessary funds.’ Hmm…sadly this could just as well apply to Mr Berlusconi’s treatment of AC Milan & Italy šŸ˜¦

  5. copernicus Says:

    If Mr Ashley surrounds himself with girls, I would have thought that it is his business, no critical analysis here!!

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