Vice-Chairman Chris Mort Leads Strategic Review of Newcastle

There has been some information released on Newcastle’s two new Directors, Chris Mort and Steve Hayward and we review their backgrounds.

One of Chris Mort’s immediate tasks is to conduct a strategic review of the club which includes its existing infrastructure, contractual arrangements, staff and financial position.


Owner Mike Ashley

Chris Mort, a partner at international law firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, one of the two new members of the Newcastle United Board, will be the one to lead a strategic review of the club including its existing infrastructure, contractual arrangements, staff and financial position. He will take leave from Freshfields, where he co-heads the firm’s leisure sector group which covers the sports, gaming and hotel sectors. Chris is a long term associate of Ashley, and was an advisor to Mike on his take-over bid at St James’ Park.

Mort said the following today:

“I am delighted to take on this role. Newcastle United is a fantastic football club with a wonderful set of supporters,”
“My first task is to lead a review of all aspects of the club and I look forward to starting that work immediately.”

It seems interesting that Mort is in the sports, gaming and hotel sectors industry. Presumably he will also be fully involved with the £300M upgrade to St. James’ Park – currently in the planning stages but due for completion before the Olympic Games in 2012. It will include a new convention center, new hotel and an increase in the capacity at St. James to at least 60,000. This is all starting to make a lot of business sense.


Artist’s Impression of Upgraded St. James’ Park

Steve Hayward, the other new appointee to Newcastle’s Board of Directors has experience in the sport and leisure fields, including spells with Universal/Paramount, Ashley’s Sports Direct International and Coca-Cola, where he managed the soft drinks giant’s UK sponsorship program. This sponsorship meant he had to work with all the major participants in English football.

The leaving of the Board on Tuesday of Douglas Hall and his sister Allison Antonopoulos finally brought to an end the Hall family’s eventful association with the club which began in 1991. Sir John Hall led the Magpie Group’s takeover at St James’ in late 1991 and spearheaded the club’s re-emergence as a force in English football.

His recruitment of Kevin Keegan as manager and the cash he handed the former Newcastle striker to build a side which produced some stunning football took the Magpies back to the upper reaches of the Barclay’s Premier League and into Europe. Although the Hall family became very rich out of the association with Newcastle United – the club is no nearer to breaking a trophy drought stretching back to 1969 – despite the investment of hundreds of million of pounds.

We all hope Mike Ashley will bring great big rain clouds to Newcastle – to end that drought – and the sooner it starts to cloud over the better.

Comments welcome.

18 comments so far

  • craig chisholm

    Jun 26, 2007 at 5:53 PM

    Comment #1

    i am suprised that there have been no comments on this so far saying as this set of dealings is probably far more important than any player we might or might not be getting. for me, i think its good that we have trimmed away the old board and i am not sad to see the back of douglas hall thats for sure. Hey ED, how about starting a blog entitled ‘will freddy be a good chairman’. i think that now he has had his grip of newcastle removed and experts very close to ashley put in place that he might end up being a good chairman for us. you can not deny that he has big bollocks and is an ultra newcastle fan. look at what he has just got for owen, ten bloody million out of fifa and the fa when just a few months ago, sepp platter said that the two million they were giving was a ‘final payment’. The fa taking a firm stance too. But FF stuck to his guns, took on the might of world football and in the end won. So, will freddy be a good chairman????

  • Shaun

    Jun 26, 2007 at 6:07 PM

    Comment #2

    Lets see where we are at Xmas and i’ll answer this question, but a few weeks ago I did write that we should keep Fred, he could also be the way Shearer can come back into the club??

  • Toppsy Krett

    Jun 26, 2007 at 6:25 PM

    Comment #3

    Freddy will only remain as Chairman for a short time, possibly only one more season. And it goes without saying that he will no longer have any of the grip he had before. All contracts, deals etc will be subject to much more review and approval before being agreed – which is fantastic. No more 9 million get out clauses is a good start.

  • Geoff Stone

    Jun 26, 2007 at 6:37 PM

    Comment #4

    Personally I hope the review will conclude with moving away from St James Park. The photo above is just 3/4 impressive, but the side that cannot be expanded just looks more and more ridiculous. Come on Newcastle, show the ambition to take on the best in Europe. Part of that means a stadium capacity of 70000 +

  • chris

    Jun 26, 2007 at 6:40 PM

    Comment #5

    I’m glad there’s a new regime in at the club now. Lets hope there’s no more shocks when the rest of the contracts are reviewed. I’m also glad that any more transfers will be overseen by Chris Mort who will have Ashley’s best interests at heart. With this in mind Shepherd will either show he’s a good chairman or leave!

  • Graham

    Jun 26, 2007 at 7:16 PM

    Comment #6

    Shaun, why the hell do we want shearer back in now? With a bit of luck we might just have a club that is going to be run in a professional manner for the first time in my life! Why do so many people see Shearer as the pied piper of Gallowgate? Footballer yes, no argument but he is the last person we want at NUFC now (and for the foreseeable future in my eyes). The only thing Shearer would do is become bigger than the club again (in his own eyes as well) and a man as astute as Ashley would not let that happen. We’ve just got rid of aload of trouble makers from the board this afternoon and we dont want to be recruiting anymore in the near future!

  • Jon c

    Jun 26, 2007 at 7:26 PM

    Comment #7

    I have to agree with Graham though with a heavy heart. Ashley has taken over at the club and will do things with his head rather than his heart. Any decision to bring Wor Al into management at St James’ would be risky on the basis that he has no experience of man management as yet. I would love to see the day when he does manage Newcastle but only after he has cut his teeth and proved his worth. Would you want to go and spend a couple of hundred million and then put in place an untried person because it would be popular ?

  • scotty

    Jun 26, 2007 at 8:07 PM

    Comment #8

    well said Graham – i totally agree about Shearer!!! Excellent pro but had should have retired 2 years earlier and he had far too much say and influence in club dealings.

  • jeff.

    Jun 26, 2007 at 8:15 PM

    Comment #9

    yeah yeah yeah, and all that!
    So What does this mean in terms of players we could sign. I don,t see any major signings on the horizon. the ones we have made in the close season are ok to consolidate, but they are not going to be good enough to change Newcastles fortunes.

    All this talk of billionaires and large transfer kitties is all bollocks. we still cant compete in the tranfer market with any success.
    we manage to get the scraps that the big four dont want to sign, or sell on.
    The transfers we do manage to make, have got the ridiculous escape clauses in them, so the player can take the piss for a while on a good wage, then come back for the eyes when a big four club meets the clause price.

    My hopes for next season are pinned on sam’s motivational skills,and getting the best out of the players. we may be able to sneek into a eufa cup spot (inter toto?) If players of the calibre we’ve got play as a unit.Who knows!

    The players who dissapointed last term did’nt become bad players overnight,and with sam and his staff working alongside them,we may see some players we had written off, starting to perform! Be ready for a few surprises! I think Luque is going to be one of them.

    So dont get carried away with all this new board and bilionaire crap. next season will rest on the shoulders of the squad we,ve got now.If we can reach a european spot,we may be in a stronger position to attract the players to make us a top table team and improve our brand.

  • Ed Harrison

    Jun 26, 2007 at 9:09 PM

    Comment #10

    Jeff – i think you are pretty accurate – although Sam will be able to bring in some players this summer – we wouldn’t expect Ashely’s money to have too much an impact for next season – we’ll have to claw our way back. Look at what we did the second half of the season Souness got sacked – winning a lot of games – we still have those players. We’ll have to do the same thing next season and Sam has never been used to having a lot of money so hopefully he will sign some good players for us this summer – and through his good management and motivational abilities we can be top six next season – that would be a first season of success. Then the hard work starts to get us breaking into top four. I have complete faith in Sam right now.

  • Ed Harrison

    Jun 26, 2007 at 9:09 PM

    Comment #11

    Jeff – but can’t we get carried just a wee bit? 😀

  • Ed Harrison

    Jun 26, 2007 at 9:15 PM

    Comment #12

    Jon C – but let’s not forget that for Ashley to be successful and raise the value of his team Newcastle must be successful – it’s as simple as that. Newcastle will only get to be wroth say 400M if we start winning stuff and get to be known more world-wide. You’d all be surprised how popular Newcastle is even now around the world – I’ve had emails from people all over the world about this site – from stranded Geordies like myself. If Mike can make Newcastle successful there will a sea change in the way the fans feel towards the club. It’s too far away right now to worry about – maybe Sam will turn out to be the savior – he must have a good chance!

  • JP from The Rock of Gibraltar

    Jun 26, 2007 at 10:30 PM

    Comment #13

    Jeff you’re absolutely right but I can understand everyones excitement as I too am eager for the next season to start. Like you said I believe Luque will shine under Big Sam’s man management influence. I know he has bags of talent as I was tired of watching him play in La Liga in Spain and he will come good with time and patience, Big Sam’s the man to turn his and our fortunes around.

  • jeff.

    Jun 26, 2007 at 11:18 PM

    Comment #14

    I reckon in the not to distant future that all premier league clubs will have a mega rich backing. I hope this loosens the big four’s grip, and levels the playing field for the rest of the teams.The worry is that this would cause a brand war as clubs compete against each other commercially,and wage demands and transfer fees become even more stupid than they are now.

    I totally agree with your Luque comments. I saw him in la liga and was blown away with some of his performances. That talent is still there,but the confidence is’nt.Big sam is just the sort of manager he needs right now . I could be the only Mag, that is glad he’s been given a new chance to prove what a good player he is.

    I also think Duff will do well under Big sam. Roeder did’nt manage to get the best out of him last term,(or anyone) for what ever reason,maybe injuries.

  • Fergie

    Jun 26, 2007 at 11:20 PM

    Comment #15

    Geoff Stone, I disagree that we should leave St. James’ Park. For one, we have to start filling it every other week again, unlike last year, but I am confident this will happen this season. Then we need to fill the 60,000 seater upgrade. I agree that the East stand looks pretty pathetic and it can’t be made bigger, but I feel that we cannot move from the Gallowgate site. St. James’ Park is an icon for the North East, not just Newcastle. It is the first thing people see when they come in to the city, either by train or car. Where else in the UK can you shop on the high street and within 5 minutes be sitting in a premiership stadium? SJP is one of a kind in terms of its location and if we were to move out of town (which any move would have to be) then we would lose the great feeling of match days where the swarms of black and white take over the streets of central Newcastle. Who cares about 10,000 more seats if you lose the magic?

  • Fergie

    Jun 26, 2007 at 11:24 PM

    Comment #16

    and whats with the on the artists impression? are we going to sell out and play at the Northern Rock Arena??

  • Dustin

    Jun 27, 2007 at 12:12 AM

    Comment #17

    We are not leaving St james, so any upgrade to the current stadium capacity is a good thing, (I thought that was the ground couldn’t take any more weight?) lets just hope we start playing the type of football that puts xx,000 people in their seats. Plans for a 100,000+ seater in the moors north of the city were rejected.

  • John W

    Jul 4, 2007 at 2:21 PM

    Comment #18

    heard reports on the web the other day that the stadium expansion plans will be shelved by Chris Mort who doesnt see it as something to take us forward. Anybody know of this? Hope not, we need this to keep us witnin distance of the big boys and to push on in the future-especially if we win something cos we wud get so many more wanting to watch us.


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