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Newcastle United: When Magpies Fall Out of the Sky


Leeds, Charlton, Southampton, Watford etc. The list is continuous, the list of clubs that in recent years have fallen from the Premiership and now battle relegation at the bottom of the championship. Or in the case of Leeds, Leicester, and come Saturday Charlton have dropped into League One.

This is the fate that might await Newcastle if they do not stay up. The average Geordie would argue they are too big a club, but look at Leeds and Leicester stalwarts of the top tier in England. Leeds are even bigger than Newcastle in terms of success; having won many trophies in more recent times than the Magpies 1968/69 Europe League (then the Fairs Cup) victory. So the argument that they are too big to go down and not yo-yo up again does not hold water. This is given further emphasis when you mention that fact that Man City, arguably a bigger club, were second tier residents as recent as 2002.

Certainly it is important to identify that unlike a Leeds, Charlton or Southampton (who have debts of £27.5m). Newcastle would not necessarily be in financial trouble, however their crippling wage bill with the likes of Viduka and Owen cannot be helpful. In having to ease their wage bill they would have to trim down their squad radically. One plus is Newcastle have a brilliant asset in St James Park which they own. This means that unlike Southampton who have reeled from debts to St Marys (forcing them to sell Kenwyne Jones, Gareth Bale and Theo Walcott), Newcastle would have stable foundation.

For this to be a stable foundation they would need healthy attendances every week. This is a major problem as Newcastle would need to be doing well on the pitch. Which is not a good prospect give the last time, Newcastle were in the second tier in the eighties their average attendances were 20,000. Not exactly record breaking for the Championship, these debunk the myth of Geordie loyalty. How many of the capacity crowd that turned up for Shearers first match will be there for, say their first match against Doncaster? Furthermore Ashley would struggle to sell the club as their return to the EPL would not be guaranteed as Leeds have found out.

Certainly even if Newcastle don’t have financial troubles, that is not to say they wouldn’t be in trouble. Leicester got relegated to the third tier for the first time in their history last season. They are wealthy under the ownership of Milan Mandaric (formerly of Portsmouth) but due to the bad management of Ian Holloway they were subsequently relegated. A further example of this would be Derby who, until the arrival of Nigel Clough, were involved in back to back relegation battles.

So the Tyneside this time next year might find themselves in a second relegation battle. Yes seriously, they very well could be as they would have their squad ripped apart getting rid of their uncommitted greedy mercenaries. Players such as Geremi, Beye, Gutierrez and sorry England fans your golden boy Owen.

The list of people getting on the first trains, planes and Porsche traffic jams heading South in late May would be long. I will give this potentially comprehensive list a go: Colocini, Gutierrez, Geremi, Beye, Duff, Owen, Martins, Geremi, Viduka, Butt, Guthrie, Barton, Cacapa. This is just a quick attempt; the real list could be more extensive. Do you really think, despite headlines in the English press to the contrary, that people like Barton and Owen are going to stick around because they love the Geordie public? I think not.

It seems clear that Newcastle will find themselves in desperate trouble down in the Championship. The club wouldn’t suddenly become a mess, they already are a mess. Badly run and badly managed; they have had, since the well run period of Bobby Robson (a brilliant manager and the closest thing English football has to an elder statesman) six managers.

Something is rotten up north. As soon as players slip on that black and white shirt they instantly become injury magnets and can’t defend for toffee. Their signing policy reflects crazy panic buys with any clever buys coming in over priced and unfit. Maybe this might be a good thing if they get relegated; come summer sky sports news won’t have their Toon army specials, with panic buying of shirts emblazoned with names like Luque.

Newcastle are covered in magpie excrement at the moment. The only hope I think they have if they don’t survive is that maybe they need this. Maybe this club need to get rid of all their deadwood players. Have a new reincarnation based on the back of good management, and on a new dynasty led by the charge of Andy Carroll up front.

Despite reports to the contrary Shearer shocked at what his club have become may stick around.

Who knows? Shearer might turn out to be the messiah leading his people out of the desert of the championship and back to their promised land.

This is speculative at the moment however, what is abundantly clear is this season could be terminal for the soap opera that is Newcastle United. You can’t be sure as at the moment the Fog on Tyne is very thick. However the good news for Dave from Newcastle is Ameobi is staying, and he will probably be a star striker in the championship next season. So I suppose that is something, it really is.

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  1. Rohit Dwarak

    April 17, 2009 at 7:28 am

    Richard ..frankly bemused at your statements and i second what David said.
    Now in the late 90’s Newcastle became a more global brand. Now i’m A fan from
    half way across the world, and i could stick my head out and say that Newcastle is most
    supported club outside of england if you leave out the top 4.

    Lets leave out the trophy success for now.The top 4 are dominating it all over.Even
    the carling cup is out of reach.As for this season,we still have 6 games and i’m sure
    we will do our best to stay up.

  2. David Allison

    April 17, 2009 at 5:46 am

    Richard, I don’t think you quite understood what LambethMag was saying. He was simply raising a valid point that the attendance levels were at their highest in the 40’s, not in the 50’s when they acheived much FA Cup success.

    Please take care to read posts properly before challenging a fan of 45 years and his knowledge of his club. I’m quite certain someone who has been supporting their club for nearly half a century has a pretty solid knoweldge of the club’s history. Less haste next time, please…

  3. Richard

    April 16, 2009 at 7:48 pm

    And just one more thing, it was actually the 50s Newcastle last had FA Cup success. I looked it up. If your gonna talk about fan loyalty and Geordies not being morons, you could at least know something about your own success.

  4. Richard

    April 16, 2009 at 7:37 pm

    i think the people slagging this article off are kinda missing the point. The point is Newcastle haven’t won a half-decent trophy in 40 years. Even my team, Leicester City, have won decent trophies since then. Granted it was only 2 League cups but its still more than what Newcastle have claim to. And for all those that want to nit-pick at the little inconsistencies, take a good look at the big picture. For a club that only 5 years ago was fighting for a spot in the champions league is now in the relegation zone with only 6 games left with the likes of Liverpool, Aston Villa, Fulham and Tottenham still to play. Unless Shearer can pull off something truly special, Newcastle should just pack their bags and head down to the championship now.

  5. LambethMag

    April 16, 2009 at 7:12 pm

    Badly run, badly managed, yet the fans are interfering. I feel there is a lack of understanding in being over expectant, and not stupid. The fans have only ever wanted the football club to be well run. You are correct in saying that it hasn’t, and as a result, we, the fans have not been happy. There is nothing we would like more than a stable club, build from a solid foundation with people who they could trust to build over a period of years, a reach a reasonable level. The simple truth is that in my own 45 years in watching the club, that particular blueprint has never existed, and the people who have run the club have been anything but trustworthy, and have seen it as a way of lining their own pockets to the detriment of the club. I include John Hall and his son in this category as well.
    Its as simple as this, the fans aren’t prepared to take it any more. The managers of this club are appointed and sacked by the same people. Those are the people they despise. Not the managers or the players. Souness and Allardyce had their backing, only a small group were against them, and this occurs at every clubThey will love the club,and that love will never die. it is the only club they will ever support. It is a birthright. There will never ever be any breakaway supporters group forming their own club in this city.
    Just for the record, NUFC’s highest average attendance was 54,000, and was in the old second division. No it wasn’t in the 50’s when they had FA Cup success, it was in the 40’s. Have a look at the all time attendance records as well. You maybe surprised. In the 80’s St. James Park had a capacity of 30,000. When redeveloped in 93-94, it was 36,000. In 2001 52,000. From 1993 until 2007 full houses. Who else bar Man U could say that.
    Please name me another club who have had a lack of success for so long, are currently lying in eighteenth place in the league, and can still regularly pull in over 50,000. My, we have been a deluded bunch for many years I fear. I’m must be more deluded than the home based fan as I travel from London for every home game. Think I’ll start and visit “The Bridge” instead. NOT!

  6. Steve

    April 16, 2009 at 6:28 pm

    They talk about the fans loyalty in this article but I don’t think you would find other clubs in the country turning out 50,000 plus fans on average each home game if they have had to watch the dross we have watched this year. People say we are demanding, If you call wanting your team to give 100% each game and be proud to put on the black and white shirt demanding, and a chairman that will back the majority of fans choice in Keegan then yes we are demanding (but I’m pretty sure other fans would act the same way).

  7. beyethegreta

    April 16, 2009 at 4:55 pm

    The average Geordie does not think Newcastle are too big a club to go down we know we arent newcastle fans are not delusiional i admit a little demanding but not delusional

  8. Gaz

    April 16, 2009 at 11:45 am

    I’ve been saying something similar about Shearer since he was appointed.

    I think it was very tactical to appoint him as manager at this point in time so that he’ll have a few Premiership games under the belt before he continues his management position next year in the Championship. It would be a perfect opportunity for him to have his “apprenticeship” as a manger and lead a maybe starless but full of heart Newcastle squad back to the Premiership and stay there.

  9. J

    April 16, 2009 at 10:47 am

    I don’t think those couple of errors overly detract from the gist of the article, which I’d say is pretty much spot on, highlighting the plight of other large clubs (success, supporter base) that have been relegated from the prem and struggled as an example of what could happen to Newcastle.

    It raises valid points about the squad, how many of which will stay around, and points out that unlike Leeds they should be financially secure. I think this was part of the point he was making with St James’ Park. So its not wholly owned by the club, but I mean it’s not the millstone of St Mary’s! He was presenting it as a positive! But then he is mindful that financial security is no barrier to further relegation, and something Newcastle should be wary of.

  10. turbozone

    April 16, 2009 at 10:04 am

    OK, so he made a few factual errors but that doesn’t really take any weight away from his argument. Newcastle is a mess, the signing policy has been poor (and in some cases, unlucky) and to be honest they deserve everything they get. I feel sorry for the fans but the business has been poorly run for about 5 years now and if it wasn’t a football club, it would have folded already. Much like customers when a business’s goes into administration they lose out and this is the same with the Newcastle fans. No matter how loyal you are, due to, on the most part, bad decisions by the board you’re going to have to pay for their mistakes.

    Again though, can the fans honestly say that they haven’t contributed to Newcastle’s current predicament? Instead of allowing change to be incorporated into your business, which takes time you have held the board to ransom and in hindsight, hasn’t gotten you in any better position.

    It’s time for the fans to stand up and get behind the board, whether that is Mike Ashley or someone else and start working collectively to improve the clubs business model, which will in turn improve the clubs stature in the footballing world and perhaps bring you back to the most sought glory days.

    As fans, you can’t get your own way all the time because most of us are armchair fans and don’t have a clue what it takes to run a football club/team and that’s what fans, in particular Newcastle fans need to acknowledge.

  11. Jimmy Mac

    April 16, 2009 at 9:13 am

    I have begun to accept inadequate stories like this about Newcastle, Jack and Jim, you are very right. You don’t really expect such poor writing to be backed up by accurate facts now do you? Ross Gallacher, much like many of the goons from the Daily Mirror and Mail cannot write for s***, and love a bit of geordie bashing, but hey….. i for one will always love my team, premiership, championship, league 1 or 2! it doesnt matter!

    As for the dead wood….. i’d like to see the back of Geremi, Colocinni, Cacapa, Viduka, Smith, Ameobi, Owen no matter what division we are in! I would however, like to keep, Taylor’s x 2, Barton, Bassong, Nolan, Beye, Spiderman, Carroll, Martins, Harper, Krul, Edgar, Butt and Duff (1 more season as a squad player).

    Another thing this so called writer fails to mention is the ever improving youth’s coming through the ranks who would not abandom shit come next season: Krul, Forster, Kadar, Adej, Donninger, Ranger, Donaldson, Wesler Ngo Baheng, Godsmark, Spear, Tozer, Lough!
    Come on the toon!!!

    Ross Gallacher…….find another profession!!

  12. Jim

    April 16, 2009 at 8:38 am

    Might be better if you got your facts right before posting articles like this.
    1) Newcaslte won the Fairs Cup in 1969 NOT 1968
    2) Newcastle do NOT own St James’ Park – merely the stands, the land is owned by the City Freemen.
    3) Newcastles attendances in the Second tier of English football only fell below 20,000 twice in 1980/81 and 1981/82 Average gates for stays in the second tier are 28,282
    4) Newcastle is not in the County of Northumberland, it is in Tyne & Wear.

    a little bit of research would not go amiss

  13. Jack

    April 16, 2009 at 8:27 am

    1. We won the fairs cup in 1969
    2. Newcastle isn’t in Northumberland
    3. The average Geordie does not think Newcastle are too big a club, that in itself is a myth fabricated by the media.

    I don’t understand this miconception that Geordie fans are morons, who are being slated for “Panic buying Luque shirts” in one sentence, then being ridiculed for the fact that a 20,000 attendance in the Championship 20 YEARS AGO “debunks the myth of Geordie loyalty”

    We know we’re in deep trouble, so there’s no need to act like we’re the gimps at school who aren’t in on the joke.

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