NOBODY does it better – off the field.
Newcastle United, unlike most other clubs, make money.
Lots of it, in fact.
The club revealed yesterday that it made £18.7m, after tax, in the year up to June 2014.
But it’s what the club does ON the pitch that matters to fans.
And that’s the problem on Tyneside.
Years of financial prudence at St James’s Park in a league awash with money have taken a toll on the team – and its long-suffering fans.
Tonight, Davide Santon, loaned to Inter Milan in January as he was deemed surplus to requirements, could play for Italy against England in Turin tonight, yet Daryl Janmaat, the club’s only fit senior full-back, must play at centre-half.
Head coach John Carver had just 13 senior outfield players available for the club’s last game, the home defeat to Arsenal.
And he won’t have many more at his disposal for Sunday’s Wear-Tyne derby.
Newcastle’s accounts might be in rude health, but what about the sickly team?
Years of under-investment have left the club with a squad ill-equipped to last the distance of a Premier League campaign.
Player trading has generated significant profits for United in recent years.
Mike Ashley, the club’s billionaire owner, has made a fortune buying and selling sports gear.
And not surprisingly his football club, which is set to benefit from a huge new TV deal, has made money buying and selling players.
It’s what he does. He buys and sells.
But Newcastle managing director Lee Charnley, previously at pains not to “over-promise and under-deliver”, offered disillusioned supporters a glimmer of hope after talking about the club’s “prudent and measured” administration.
“The club benefits from a supportive owner and is financially stable,” said Charnley.
“This gives us a strong platform from which to grow, both on and off the pitch, a result of which means, as we move forward, we are able to NET SPEND on the playing squad and invest in other areas of the business.”
That’s certainly new.
Fans, understandably, are sceptical.
There will be departures from the club this summer – Cheik Tiote and several other players are expected to leave – and many more arrivals are needed if the team is to be able to genuinely compete at the top end of the Premier League.
And that’s not taking into account the issue of appointing the club’s next head coach.
Charnley has much work to do.
Many supporters, disillusioned with the way the club is run, have already drifted away.
What’s the point of supporting a club, at great expense, which does NOT seem to want to win a cup?
Mid-table mediocrity isn’t good enough for a club which attracts 50,000 to St James’s Park every other week.
Fans life and breathe football on Tyneside, and the least they deserve is some ambition from a club in which they make a huge emotional and financial investment over their lifetime.
Finally, Charnley has promised.
Now he must deliver.